Ministry Settings For Comprehensive Youth Ministry

The Comprehensive Model of Youth Ministry presents a new system for conceptualizing and organizing a youth ministry. This approach flows from the model of adolescent development presented in Section 1 and from the mission and ministry of the Church. It links the eight components of youth ministry (presented above) with four different program settings: Youth programming, family ministry, involvement in church life, and collaboration with the civic community. In some areas there is a fifth setting: Catholic Schools. The components of youth ministry can be programmed in each of these different ways, thereby multiplying the options for ministry with youth and families. This model provides a means to reach a broader audience and use the resources of the parish and civic community more effectively.

Youth programming involves organizing a variety of activities around the specific developmental and social needs of young people. It involves youth and adult leaders in program planning and implementation. In the comprehensive model there will still be a need for programs directly targeted to youth and their unique needs.

Family ministry involves programs and activities geared to incorporating a family perspective in all youth ministry programming; in developing specific programs and activities for parents, for youth and parents, and for the whole family; and for supporting and strengthening in-home family life. In the comprehensive model serious attention is given to ministry with families as a crucial context for promoting positive youth development. In addition to creating new family programs or resources, some of the current youth-only programs can be redesigned with a family perspective or with family involvement.

Involvement in Church life offers young people opportunities to develop a sense of belonging and loyalty to the community; to feel like valued members of the community, and to take responsibility as leaders in parish-wide programs, such as liturgical ministries, service ministries, educational ministries, and community/social events. In the comprehensive model meaningful involvement in church life and the development of intergenerational relationships are seen as rich resources for young people to learn the story of faith experientially. Leaders in ministry will need to advocate for youth participation and become the catalysts for creating new opportunities for youth involvement in the community. This may mean reducing youth-focused programming to allocate time and energy to community-based programming.

Collaboration with the civic community provides a way for youth ministry to utilize community-wide resources and activities, and to plan joint activities, programs, and meetings with the different youth-serving organizations in the community (churches, schools, scouting programs, youth agencies). In the comprehensive model churches need to work with other community organizations in a common effort to promote positive youth development. Sharing resources, co-sponsoring programming, mobilizing the community to address youth issues are only some of the ways churches and community organizations can work together for the common good of all young people.

Collaboration with Catholic Schools provides a way for youth ministry to utilize the resources and activities of the local Catholic School to support ones parish ministry. Collaboration with schools provides us with the opportunity to reach out to youth who are not attending church. This opportunity to plan and share activities provides us with a richer and broader Catholic ministry offering. In the comprehensive model, churches need to work with their local Catholic schools in a common effort to promote faith development. Sharing resources is a welcomed opportunity to reflect continuity in the development of young person’s faith.

Each of these program settings can be organized as gathered programs or non-gathered programs (small group or individual), thereby multiplying your programming options.

Gathered programs focus on participation in organized, assembled programs for youth, families, parish community, or civic community (e.g., parish events, intergenerational programs, youth meetings, social events, trips, retreats).

Non-Gathered programs include programs that provide maximum flexibility in addressing specific needs of youth and/or families using a variety of small group and individualized approaches (e.g. home-based activities and resources, community service, spiritual direction, mentoring, independent learning, small group Bible study).