The Liturgy of the Hours group, which I mentioned earlier, got approved at the parish council meeting last night, so things should be moving along again soon on that front. However, I found myself also drawn into an area of responsibility that I feel less sure on.
Being the youngest member of the council by almost ten years (and this even as the parish council has got much younger in the last few years) I got assigned to help our with the "youth and family ministries" committee, and what should the topic of discussion be but the efforts to form a new youth group.
Our parish is very heavy on families with school age children, so a good youth group seems like a need. However, the last few attempts have always fizzled for one reason or another. Now we've got a brand new youth leader, 70 teens showed up to her first meeting, and everyone's hoping things will work out.
So I'm young, do I have any advice? Well frankly, I never liked youth groups. The plague of the church youth group is that it seeks to be both formation and recreation. The trap is always that it is either not that much fun, or not very good formation, or worst of all: neither fun nor formative. My experiences with youth groups as a youth fell in this last and worst category.
One of the other difficulties with such things is that a group of teenagers whose main point of similarity is that their families are all in the same parish will oftentimes be at radically different levels of formation, and have rather different ideas of fun. Being "youth" is not necessarily that much of a point of similarity.
MrsDarwin had a somewhat happier experience of youth groups than I did. The format she dealt with was a 1.5-2hr meeting which had 60min or so of religious content: prayer followed by a bible study or a short talk (I believe the term in certain circles is "witness", but I'm terribly squeamish about such things) and then fun activities afterwards. This seems like a basically sound idea, though it still leaves open the rather tricky point of what level to do your prayer/bible study/talks at.
The fact is, we are often rather less likable versions of ourselves as youth. And if I seem elitist and intolerant now, that's nothing to what I was as a youth. Since my own ideas of what constituted an interesting discussion of prayer life at the time were rather heavy on theory and abstraction (or else argumentation, which is always fun for the young) I have a feeling that thinking, "What would I have enjoyed?" is simply not a very good way of figuring these things out now. Looking back, it must be acknowledged: I was simply not a fun teen.
If anyone has details on successful teen church group formats they've enjoyed, I'd be glad to hear about them.
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