Youth Ministry Articles

After spending ten years in youth ministry, I’ve now spent almost another ten years teaching about it at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. I write a regular column for the The Sower, a quarterly catechetical journal sponsored by Franciscan University and Maryvale Institute. Here’s everything I’ve written for them so far.

“Proclaiming the Bad News to Teenagers,” April 2013. Talking about hell can pose a challenge for those who work with young people today. But if young people don’t understand the horrors of hell, they can never appreciate what Christ went through to bring them to heaven. Or to put it another way, the Good News isn’t really good unless the bad news is really bad.

“Thinking Win/Win with Your Volunteers,” October 2012. Attracting volunteers to your ministry is a daunting challenge, but it can be done. One way of doing that is to think “Win/Win.” A ministry that is as concerned with the positive experience of its volunteer as it is with it’s ministry to young people becomes a dynamic and enticing environment that attracts both youth and adults alike.

“Will You Love Me?” April 2012. When St. John Bosco famously said, “Love, and they will follow you anywhere,” he wasn’t talking about relational manipulation. He was speaking the truth. Teenagers, then and now, desire true friendships and respond to real love. One thing is sure: postmodern teenagers feel more than they think.

“Not Young Adults, but Emerging Adults,” January 2012. What is a “young adult?” Christian Smith, author of Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults, suggests the term young adult is a misnomer. He proposes we call this age group emerging adults.

“Saints and Superheroes,” October 2011. Movies and stories about superheroes are all the rage with young people today. As catechists, we can use those stories to point them to the real superheroes—the saints.

“Youth Ministers: Working With Your Pastor,” April 2011. In youth ministry, there is no more important relationship than the one between the Pastor and the Youth Minister. Here are some ideas to help that relationship grow stronger.

“Sharing the Gospel Message with Adolescents,” October 2010 and January 2011. What is the heart of the Gospel Message? This two-part article takes a look at how using the four reasons for the Incarnation can be a great way to explain the Gospel Message to Teenagers.

“An Organic and Comprehensive Ministry to Youth,” July 2010. The eight components of youth ministry shouldn’t be understood (or implemented) as if they are free-standing or have equal weight. To be effective, we have to understand the organic unity that comprehensive youth ministry strives for.

“Avoiding Burnout In Youth Ministry,” June 2010. We are all called to be on fire with the Holy Spirit. But if we’re not careful, we can burn with a worldly fire that only causes us to burn out. Here’s some clues on how to know the difference. (Written for “Formed Magazine”, no longer in print.)

“Ministering to Youth in a Media-Saturated Culture,” April 2010. New surveys say that teens spend more time with media than adults do at work, and they don’t take weekends off. Kids are not consuming media, media is consuming them.

“From Education to Transformation,” January 2010. St. John Bosco new the difference between teaching youth and leading youth into holiness. Do we?

“The Importance of Studying Youth Culture,” January 2010. The culture changes to constantly to ever feel we know it all. Here are some ways to stay on top of it. (Written for “Formed Magazine”, no longer in print.)

“Unfair Advantage,” July 2009. Sometimes we get so concerned with being “fair” that we spread ourselves out too thin and nothing gets done. We should do what Jesus did.

“Soul Searching for Youth Ministers,” April 2009. What is the “creed” of the typical American teenager? You might be surprised.

“Communicating Our Love for Adolescents,” January 2009. Applying “The Five Love Languages” in our ministry for youth.

“Ministering to Millenials,” October 2008. We can’t do ministry to the way we were, or recreate our own ministry experience. We have to speak to the way youth are today.

“Helping Youth Encounter Christ in the Gospels,” July 2009. The best way to bring teens into deeper intimacy with Jesus is to encounter Him in the Gospels. Here are some ways to do that.

“Christ’s Invitation to Young People,” April 2008. As catechists, we must resist the temptation to water down Christ’s radical call of holiness and sainthood.

“The Missionary Nature of Youth Catechesis,” January 2008. When we deal with young people, we are missionaries to a foreign culture.

“Developmental Issues in Youth Catechesis,” October 2007. We are not speaking to small versions of adults. We need to understand basic adolescent development so we can better communicate with teens.

“A New Pentecost for Catechesis,” October 2007. We must call upon the Holy Spirit to bring a new “catechetical dynamism” in ministry today.