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Youth Ministry after Evangelii Gaudium

115030I’ve just come back from Adelaide and the Australian Catholic Youth Ministry Convention. It was a great weekend!

This workshop looks at Pope Francis’s exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (EG) and ‘marries’ three key concepts from the exhortation with some key research from Dr Christian Smith of Notre Dame University Indiana which he presents in his 2014 book Young Catholic America.  This research examines key factors that are most likely to lead to practising young adult Catholics five years after they have finished high school.

Pope Francis’s three concepts are: evangelising communities, the kerygma or proclamation of the Gospel and missionary disciples.

In addition to these three concepts, I also reflect upon Francis’s reading of the signs of the times in EG, and the importance of ensuring that ‘Jesus and Justice’ go together: that a personal faith and a preferential option for the poor are inextricably linked.

I think these key points of EG and the research from Dr Smith have critical insights for the practice of youth ministry.

You can access the audio of the talk from our friends at Xt3 here.

This was the third time I have presented this talk: the previous two occasions were at the Catholic Schools Youth Ministry Australia conference and the Ignite Conference.

A huge vote of thanks to everyone who made ACYMC 2014 possible, especially the ACBC Office for Youth and the local organising committee in Adelaide.



The Value of Youth Ministry Retreats

I’ve just come home from a youth camp with the Melbourne Youth Mission Team.  I had an amazing time with a wonderful group of young people, and was reminded again of how much I enjoy ministry with young people.

Here’s some of my highlights from the weekend: everyone spontaneously dancing to the Jackson 5 as we re-grouped for the main sessions; a first-time participant being ‘group-hugged’ as he farewelled the rest of the group yesterday; and the group belting out Matt Maher’s ‘Alive Again’ as the recessional hymn for the final Eucharist.

The first two highlights make the third highlight possible.  Faith formation, evangelisation, conversion happens when there is an experience of Christian community.  When young people encounter a genuine faith community who welcomes them they begin to experience the plausibility of Christian faith – that it makes sense, and that it is possible to live out.  Most of all they experience the Gospel as the way of love.  People don’t really think their way into belief (which is not to deny the legitimate and essential intellectual dimension of faith but to contextualise it); they are loved and love their way into faith. Those young people belted out the words of the song because they meant it, they had encountered the One who re-creates us, but it was possible because they had been part of an intense experience of Christian community for the weekend.

YMT launched their new national iStand Generation follow-up ministry over the weekend.  The website is still under construction but it’s worth a look.

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