The Catechetical Review - Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization

Youth & Young Adult Catechesis: Ministering to Millennials

Authored by Bob Rice in Issue #29.4 of The Sower
Bob Rice asks what cultural reference-points we use in our youth ministry. If imitation is the highest form of flattery, then my youth minister should have felt pretty good about himself when I started doing full-time ministry. I was a teen in the late 80s, and after college found myself working for a parish in the mid 90s. I mostly did what I experienced as a youth. My subconscious mantra was, ‘If it worked back then, it will work now!’ So I played the games we used to play and sang a lot of the same songs. We weren’t wearing jean jackets, the girls didn’t have bangs, and we weren’t jamming out to Boy George and the Culture Club- but other than that it could have come right out of 1987. Many of the cultural references I used were from my childhood, not theirs. I almost had a heart attack when I realized that 75% of my teens had never seen Star Wars. As opposed to updating my analogies, I immediately declared the next Sunday a movie night, and you can guess which science fiction epic I made them watch. This went on for a few years until I realized I had fallen into one of the most common traps that plague people who work with youth and young adults: I wasn’t ministering to them as they were, I was ministering to me as I was.

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