Youth and young adults are more engaged with technology today than they have ever been before and yet they remain one of the most emotional and spiritually disconnected generations of our time. Despite this reality, the overarching field of Catholic youth ministry has failed to address the digital lives of youth and young adults. That is, although Catholic youth ministry and its practitioners have, to a great degree, perfected the use of technology in ministry, it has not adequately prepared Catholic youth and young adults for the digital world. However, by reshaping what digital discipleship is and grounding this approach in Catholic church teachings on human dignity and Thomas Groome’s shared Christian praxis, as this paper will present, practitioners of Catholic youth ministry can refashion the digital lives of youth and young adults.
This article outlines a public rhetoric for youth ministry in an era of ecclesial agoraphobia. The article draws on the findings of a larger research project titled The Four Speeches Every Leader Has to Know. With the use of rhetorical theory, analysis of actual speeches, and a phenomenological and narrative approach to leadership and speaking, this research project has developed a four speeches-typology – the opening speech, the executioner speech, the consolation speech, and the farewell speech. The article uses this typology within the framework of a biblical rhetoric, looking at the speeches of Jesus, to analyse how the four speeches of Jesus may help the youth leader to address the transitory lives of young people in a credible way.
The ‘incarnational’ theological perspective has had a significant influence upon models of youth ministry since the 1940s. It became a compelling force in the 1990s through the work of prolific voices like Pete Ward in the UK and Dean Borgman in America. More recently it has received renewed focus with a new interpretation offered by Dr. Andrew Root.
This is a question of the theological appropriation of the Incarnation, and why we might speak of incarnational youth ministry but not Trinitarian, atoning, or creational youth ministry. If fidelity to the orthodox doctrine of the incarnation is a measure of the appropriateness of using the word ‘incarnational’ as a praxis, then these approaches come up short. Although many ‘incarnational’ practices should be retained, holding to the term has lasting theological complications.
This paper presents the findings from a small qualitative study of young people’s religious and spiritual questions. In addition to the questions asked by the young people, the nature of their questioning will be explored, and their apparent lack of religious or spiritual curiosity. In conversation with the literature on curiosity, a theoretical explanation of why these young people may not be curious about religious or spiritual questions will be presented. Finally, this paper will explore how the interview itself provided an incubator for religious and spiritual questioning, as a context which seemed to provoke – and not simply capture – the young people’s questions.
Eleven youth ministers working in Catholic parishes in two large urban dioceses were interviewed. The paper examined the life journey of youth ministers and how they saw their role along with perceptions of challenges and how they could be better supported. Participants were motivated and expressed satisfaction with their jobs. They displayed high levels of religious salience as marked by their religious belief and practice and networking with faith-based communities. They manifested a strong counter-cultural message which is essential to authentic witness. As such, the participants in this study are a great gift to the Church and to its ministry. A preliminary typology of youth ministers was proposed, which springs from different life experiences, how they approach their work and what they see as their future. There was some difficulty in finding paid youth ministers working in parishes and this may point to one of the significant challenges facing them; that is, making the job sustainable within existing Catholic parish structures. While well-networked with sustaining faith communities, there is scope for support between youth ministers working in parishes. In addition, a more targeted professional development program which recognises the differing needs of youth ministers would be appropriate.