Our approach in serving young adults (singles, married, divorced) and young family is twofold. First, helping young people encounter God in life-giving ways and cultivate a friendship with Christ. Second, encouraging them develop and share their gifts in helping their parishes become more vibrant communities of faith, welcoming more young adults home in the Church.
Our efforts and programs focus on forming young adults who actively cultivate a prayer life, a discerning heart, a collaborative way of serving, a commitment to building just communities, and a clear desire to discover and live out their callings in life. In the language of the New Testament, this process of formation is called "making disciples."
While it good to establish young adult groups in parishes, we seek to grow young adult ministries that seek to engage young families, collaborate with other ministries, and serve the wider parish community. These ministries will be marked by spiritual accompaniment and a missionary impulse as envisioned by Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation, Joy of the Gospel. In these ways, they can develop beyond a band of young people into a more integrative ministry of prayerful, discerning, missionary disciples.
We suggest the following guidelines to help build an integrated young adult ministry (pdf version):
A. Key ingredients of a healthy Young Adult Ministry (YAM)
1. Supportive Pastoral Leadership Staff
2. Critical mass of committed young adults (3-5)
3. Critical mass of influential adults (3-5) committed to help the parish become “young adult friendly”
4. Common vision of formation and growth (that highlights service to the wider parish community and beyond)
B. Main Approach
1. Focus on forming disciples through spiritual, leadership, and community development:
a. Spiritual (Evangelization Efforts, Liturgy, Retreat, Small Faith Communities)
b. Leadership (Catechesis/Scripture, Pastoral Counseling/Mentoring/Spiritual Direction, Justice/Service Immersion)
c. Community (Hospitality, Socials, Athletic/Outdoor Activities, Intentional Groups)
2. Organize programs that partners with other ministries and cultural groups in the parish
3. Collaborate with other YAM’s and work within the Diocesan YAM structure
4. Help young adults discover and live out their callings in life (personal vocations) while helping the parish live out its mission (to be a family of missionary disciples)
C. Concrete Steps
1. Form a 9 month Task Force on Young adult Ministry (YAM) to:
a. listen to the needs of single, engaged, married, and divorced young adults in their 20s, 30s, and 40s,
b. organize 3 solid young adult events,
c. propose a vision and program of YAM that can integrate as one of the parish’s active ministries,
2. Formally launch YAM, commissioned at a Sunday Mass in the parish.
3. Design a 3 year strategic plan that includes a 3 year formation process for SALT members, using a communal discernment process.
D. How can Christus Ministries help?
1. Work with parish leaders, helping them discern ways to better draw young adults, given their parishes’ current situation.
2. Form the YAM Task Force during the first 9-months, which includes:
b. inviting young adults of the parish, particularly SALT members to attend spiritual retreats sponsored by Christus Ministries, especially Caritas and Silent Retreat.
c. monthly meetings among SALT members to propose a vision and program for YAM.
3. Organize and facilitate regular Prayer Series for adults and young adults alike.
4. Form young adults, especially SALT members for the first three years to implement the YAM vision and program.
E. Commitment and Cost for the Parish
1. Appoint a parish staff member to the Task Force for 9 months.
2. Identify and encourage 2-3 adults to help build YAM, preferably serve on the Task Force or help out on the Caritas Retreat.
3. Provide scholarships to help active young adults attend spiritual retreats ($125/per scholarship).
4. Subsidize funding for events organized by the Task Force in the first 9 months and subsequently for the first 3 years.
5. Allow the Task Force (and later YAM) to use parish facilities, equipment and other resources.
F. Key Questions Guiding the Discernment Process
1. What are the most pressing and genuine (i.e. spiritual) needs of people in the parish boundaries?
2. Do we have the means or gifts to meet these needs?
3. Is there anyone adequately meeting these needs?
4. Are we called in the Spirit to engage these needs?
5. How can we develop the skills and gifts required to respond most effectively?
The cover image, from Glass Express Repair, can be found here.