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What would Jesus Tweet


Ever wondered what the big guy would make of the internet?

This rather interesting piece from youthworker.com helps you to like social media and faith and to put it into a format workable with young people.

Read about it here...

Love is the Key...


Well, when St. Paul said that nothing really has any value with out love, it turns out that he actually knew what he was talking about.

We know, of course, that love matters. It's the nature of God. It's the true nature of all those he created, and in the end it's the only thing that really makes a difference in people's lives.

According to a CNN article love is the key to brain development in children. Those who are loved do much, much better than those who aren't. This is obvious stuff, but it reminds us of the importance of helping young people to feel that they are loved and cared for.

I'll leave you with that thought...

Sheldon Cooper - Legend of Dating...


In my last job, I was forever looking for interesting clips to introduce sessions on relationships. Being a fan of the Big Bang theory, I think I've found just the thing...

Youth Leader Insecurities


Over the years I've met a ton of people in important positions who are really insecure. In fact, relatively recently I saw one particular youth minister's insecurities rip apart a team and threaten a project which had had hundreds of thousands invested in it.

We all get insecure at times. It's only natural. And part of youth ministry, perhaps, is about encountering ourselves - as well as God and the young people - in a deeper way and building up something more positive.

ChurchLeaders.com has an article on signs that you are insecure. Some good stuff to reflect on. If I can add two pieces though, they would be these... firstly, if you are insecure, relax. Start to believe that you are worth your job, and if there is something or somebody constantly knocking your self-esteem, get away quick! 

Secondly, if you are working with somebody whose insecurities are causing damage, try to help them. If it becomes obvious that you can't help them, then you need to seek life elsewhere.

These may sound like rather obvious - or maybe even random - bits of advice. Believe me though, I've learned them both the hard way. The very hard way!

[Source | image hotlinked from Flickr user Christina Welsh]

Why Small groups are worth it


Josh Griffin has a great post about why Small group work is a must in youth ministry.

No time for intelligent analysis from us at the minute unfortunately. You'll just have to go read it...

[image hotlinked from Flickr user micmol]

re:Build My Church 2.0


 

The organisers of the excellent ReBuild My Church event have announced the date for the next live broadcast. It will be on Thursday April 19th at 12pm Central US time and then replayed at 7pm. That's 6pm and 1am (Friday 20th) in the UK, and in Sydney, Australia that's 1am and 8am (both Friday 20th).

This is quite a complex calculation since the clocks went forward in the US last weekend, but haven't yet in the UK and Australia, but trust me... we checked it and double-checked it!

The next live broadcast will feature videos from Armando Cervantes, Scott Dougherty, Colm Leyne, D. Scott Miller, Katie Prejean and Jack Regan.

(we're not so sure we like the sound of the last one!)

More details on the Facebook page and the website.

Church Politics and Youth Ministry


I read a lot of youth ministry blogs from the evangelical world. To be honest, they're light years ahead of us in many aspects of youth ministry and so they've often got a lot of really good stuff to offer.

Naturally though, stuff from non-Catholic sites needs sieving and translating a little at times, and there are quite a few posts which I read and find myself thinking 'woah! you think that's a problem for you guys... you should try it on this side of the Tiber!' I had this reaction a few weeks back when I picked up a piece about tradition, and I had pretty much the same reaction with the piece in question here.

What I'm talking about is a great post on YouthMinistry360.com about Church Politics and Youth Ministry. It's a good piece, but as I read it I found myself realising that I work for the Church that pretty much invented Church politics. I work for the Church whose politics pretty much shaped the western world for a generation.

I mean, seriously, our Church politics has toppled Kings and Queens.

Yep. There are some things us Catholics are just unparalleled at: Candles, High liturgy, Vestments, Tradition, and most definitely - definitely - Church politics.

On a serious note though, rea the article at ym360. It needs a context-translation, but it says some interesting stuff. And if you have ever been stumped by some silly aspect of Church politics, feel free to vent in the combox!!

[image hotlinked from ym360 - courtesy of shutterstock/Jezper]

Minnesota Bishop Encouraged by Young People's Quest for Truth


Bishop John Quinn of Winona, Minn., has welcomed Pope Benedict XVI's call for better instruction of young people, saying it will meet their desire for solid truth over self-centered relativism.

"Our younger generation is breaking out of it," Bishop Quinn told EWTN News, observing a growing discontent with worldviews that reject the idea of truth in areas like religion and morality.

"They're looking for the truth. One of them said to me, 'Bishop, just tell us the truth. Don't sugarcoat it. We want to know what the truth is.' And someone else said to me: 'You know, bishop, we've been told so many lies, throughout the culture and by other people. Just give us the truth.'"

Bishop Quinn offered his thoughts on March 9, hours after his second meeting with Pope Benedict XVI. Bishops of his state, as well as North and South Dakota, were in Rome for their traditional ad limina visit involving talks with the Pope and Vatican officials about the health of their dioceses.

You can read the rest of this article on the (US) National Catholic Register site...

Brilliant 'Footprints' Video


We all know and love the 'footprints in the sand' poem. Here is a brilliant video version, courtesy of the Simply Youth Ministry Conference.

Pope meets the Prior of the Taize Community


Some video from last week of the Pope meeting the Prior, and some other brothers, of the Taize community.

Taize is still a place which attracts thousands of young people and young adults each year. If you've just been, or if you're about to go, write something in the combox and tell us all about it...

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The futility of violence


I was really sad this week to hear that Christians are once again being targeted by hostile groups in Nigeria. I was probably just as sad, though, to hear that young Christians had been taking reprisals against those who attacked them. Reprisals, which have already resulted in at least ten deaths.

On the same day that of the first attacks in Nigeria, Pope Benedict went out of his way to make the point that violence only dehumanises. He even called it 'a tool of the antichrist.' Strong words for a Pontiff who is usually far more nuanced, but nevertheless they obviously didn't do much for those angry, young nigerians.

This gives me a lot of different thoughts. Firstly, how do we as youth ministers prepare young people for those times in life when they are going to feel aggrieved and want to take direct action in response? Secondly, how do we also let them know that there are other forms of militancy which aren't directly violent, but yet which will also seriously let them down if they turn to them? You only have to do a quick google search to find literally dozens of Catholics who think that it's okay to be really nasty to other people in the name of faith.

As we saw in this Sunday's Gospel reading (that was the thing the priest read out before that pastoral letter), there are times when it's okay to freak out and go a little nuts. The problem is though, those times are very exceptional. They are to be used sparingly (indeed, the incident in the Temple was the only occasion in the entire New Testament when violence was seemingly approved of) and with extremely wise judgment.

More than all that though, how do we show young people that the power of love is stronger? How do we show them that the command not to be too militant was actually put there, not simply to keep the peace, but because God knew we had something far stronger? That's was Oscar Romero meant when he referred to 'the Violence of Love.'

[image hotlinked from BBC News]

Some people just don't listen...


Pope Benedict Reignites the Confirmation Debate


Last week, during a Vatican visit by a group of US Bishops, Pope Benedict made a point of praising one of them for returning the administration of the Sacraments in his diocese to what many see as being the correct order: Baptism, then Confirmation and then First Holy Communion. Doing things this way takes Confirmation from being a teenage thing and puts it at Primary school (US: Elementary School) age.

We've known for some time that the Vatican likes Confirmation done earlier in life and before FHC, and we've also known for some time that the practice throughout much of the Church is to do things differently. The fact that this has hit the media now though, means that somebody wanted it to. That in turn, means that the Holy Father - or somebody in the Vatican - wants to put the issue back into play.

Before I let fly with my view, I'll try to summarise both sides of the argument as I see them...

Those who favour keeping Confirmation as a teenage thing argue that it can't be properly understood at primary age, and that, in reality if not in theology, it is a 'coming of age' Sacrament. They also argue that it's a great way to engage teenagers and get them into Church.

Those who favour putting Confirmation before FHC as a childhood thing argue, on the other hand, that their's is more correct biblically and theologically and that Confirmation was never meant to be a 'coming of age' ritual at all. Many of them also argue that it's wise to get people 'done' earlier and that it's wrong to use a Sacrament as a way of keeping people in the Church.

My own view is that it's probably best done at primary age before FHC, but really I don't think it's an important debate. Really, and as with so much that we talk about in the Church, I think it points us to a larger and more important point which we're largely missing: that being that we're failing to engage people.

What I mean is that most of the arguments around Confirmation are largely predicated on the assumption that we're going to lose them eventually. Or at least, they're built around the idea that Confirmation is the last ditch attempt at not losing them. By the time you start making arguments like these, you're already way too late. It's an assumption which recognises - albeit with a reluctance to follow it through - that the Church isn't engaging young people very well. And it's this that we need to tackle. A bit of gardening round the edges here and there isn't really going to do that much.

Regarding Confirmation though, I think that whenever it's done it needs to be done well. If people - of whatever age - put themselves forward for Confirmation then this is a statement that they take their faith seriously and that they are ready - or as ready as they can be for their age - to commit to it. This requires an engaging, vibrant programme which is both catechetically sound and experiential, and it also requires a bit of sense from Catechists: too many catechists complain about poor behaviour. Well, how about this: If behaviour is poor, explain to the offending candidates that they have put themselves forward to receive the Holy Spirit, and that they are expected to take it seriously. And if that doesn't work, show them the door. Let them come back next year if they're really serious!

Generally though, as I say, I think this comes back to the fact that we're not engaging young people very well and that we're busying ourselves with a lot or less important side-issues so as not to look the big problem in the face!

Feel free to share your thoughts in the combox...

[image hotlinked from Flickr user corrieb]

Great interview with Clayton Imoo


Clayton Imoo is the DYO (as we would say here in England) for Vancouver in Canada. He blogs here, and was interviewed by us a few months back too. In this interview, he talks about some fascinating themes, including youth leadership and the New Evangelisation.

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