Saturday, July 18, 2015
Youth ministry presuppositions. . .
From a theological perspective, and it is always dangerous to talk theology in the same paragraph as youth ministry -- we have long affirmed (at least in theory) that parents are the primary educators of their children and thus have the primary obligation and responsibility for their children’s faith formation. Yet the manner in which we organize youth programs is to suggest that peers are more significant teachers of the faith than the moms and dads of the kids. It is as if we operate with a methodology that undermines one of our basic theological principles -- namely that the parents are the most significant spiritual mentors, roll models, and teachers of their children.
I would posit the radical truth that the most effective youth programs in the parish take place in the home. Where mom and dad are examples of faith and faithful Christian life for their children, youth find not only instruction but pathways on which they too will journey as the baptized whose vocation is to become the people God has declared them to be. While it is certainly truth that not all, perhaps not even most youth benefit from this kind of spiritual leadership in the home, the church can and should fill the void. The void that should be filled first, however, is working with the parents within the home to take up their divinely appointed responsibilities to their children. Second, the church must take great care not to imply or infer that the spiritual leadership of the home is neither as significant or as reliable as the encouragement of their peers. Finally, the church would do well to make sure that inherent in our youth programs is not the subtle distrust or suspicion of the very adults whom God has placed in their lives of these children to lead and guide them.
Just thinking. . . and you know how dangerous that can be!