STARTING A YOUNG ADULT
Starting a young adult ministry where one
has not existed is a difficult but worthwhile task. A difficulty when
starting a young adult ministry is communicating that it is not a club or
a group but a ministry. After talking with the parish priest, contact the
Diocesan Office for Youth & Young Adults for guidance. They may be able to
refer you to others who successfully have started young adult groups
within the diocese.
MINISTRY VS. ORGANIZATION
This is a ministry of the Church, not an organization or club. It is
simply a ministry for the faithful of the Church who share the same stages
of life and common interests. Furthermore, this is a spiritual ministry
based upon the theological tenets of the Catholic Church.
PARTICIPANTS VS. MEMBERS
Participation solely depends on being open to understanding the Catholic
faith. A young adult who participates is not classified as a member or
non-member. If he/she is a member of the Faith, he/she belongs! Therefore,
these young adults should be called participants rather than members.
Moreover, if a non-Catholic wishes to participate in the young adult
programs, do not be afraid to offer ministry to them.
With the guidance of the parish priest(s) and your parish’s Pastoral
Council and/or Parish Life Commission, organize a small committee of
interested young adults. This committee should consist of a cross-section
of different young adults in the community. The parish priest(s) should be
invited to hold an advisory role on the committee. This group should be
diverse in its make-up, but united in its mission. They should meet
regularly to consider the needs of the parish, determine goals, and plan
an initial activity.
It is important to take an inventory of your community and the young
adults in it. Consider the following questions:
- How many young adults could this group
(or groups) potentially serve and facilitate?
- What other activities are these young adults already involved in that
might conflict with these activities?
- What do the young adults like doing?
- Where do they like going?
- What do the young adults want from this ministry?
- How often should this ministry meet?
- What resources does the parish have to assist this ministry?
GOALS AND PLAN
After completing the assessment of your parish community, develop some
preliminary goals of the young adult ministry. Consider the following
questions using information from your needs assessment.
- What purpose will this ministry serve?
- How will we meet this purpose? (activities, meetings)
- What resources are available to support the purpose of this ministry?
- When is the best time to hold activities?
- What do we want to do for our initial activity?
- What will be the different roles and responsibilities of those
- How will we communicate and plan activities?
- How will we track new members?
- How can we collaborate with other ministries in our parish(es)?
- How can we collaborate with other nearby young adult ministries?
The initial activity should be a fellowship activity that is indicated by
the needs assessment as something the young adults are interested in. The
purpose of this activity is to get people interacting. The activity should
be cost free, and having food is always a good idea. At the end of the
activity, take ten minutes to review the plans for young adult ministry
and gather input from the young adults in attendance. Additionally, have a
date selected for the next gathering and hand out its itinerary there. Be
sure to have everyone sign in and record his or her e-mail address.
This organizing committee should send an introductory letter to all of the
potential young adults, to let them know about the formation of the young
adult ministry. There should also be an invitation to the first activity.
Although sending out invitations assures some communication of that
information, it is impersonal. Whenever possible, the invitation should be
followed with a phone call or personal e-mail. Different young adults in
the community should share in the communication so that the burden does
not fall on one person. The activity should also be listed in the church’s
monthly and weekly bulletins. As the group grows, have different young
adults alternate when calling about meetings. It is not necessary to call
everyone all the time, but it is important to call new participants or
those who do not attend as frequently. E-mail is another great way to send
out meeting notices and quick reminders the day before. By communicating
what is going on in the group and having the young adults reach out to one
another, the group will grow over time.
INTEGRATION INTO THE PARISH COMMUNITY
It is important to remember that young adult ministry is not limited to
young adult activities; when a young adult serves as a lector or in the
choir, that’s young adult ministry! Leaders should consider ways to
integrate young adults into the liturgical and sacramental life of the
parish, and should seek opportunities to serve on other leadership bodies
of the parish (Pastoral Council, etc.).
Every year, the group (or groups) will experience some fluctuation in size
as young adults enter different stages of their life. Therefore, special
efforts should be made to keep the ministry strong and healthy. When it is
evident that a certain individual is not participating in activities, a
special effort should be made to reach out to that young adult and bring
them back to the ministry. Ways to do this are:
- Have a peer contact them by e-mail,
phone, or personal visit
- Send a "We Miss You" letter
It is important to ensure that the young
adult ministry is meeting the needs of the young adults involved.
Occasionally, and at least once per year, those involved should evaluate
the program to see if it is accomplishing its goals.
Adapted from Young Adult Ministry
Guidelines, Archdiocesan Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministries,
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Garrison, NY 10524, with unique
material from Kevin Driscoll, Diocese of Gary.
+ + + +
• Sons and Daughters of the Light: A
Pastoral Plan for Ministry with Young Adults (USCCB, 1997).
Available for free online or
• Connecting Young Adults to Catholic
Parishes: Best Practices in Catholic Young Adult Ministry, by USCCB
or ebook purchase here
• The Basic Guide to Young Adult
Ministry, by John C. Cusick & Katherine F. Devries (Orbis, 2001).
A MODEL FOR YOUNG ADULT
• In this model, the
ministry’s overall program calendar includes a mix of social, spiritual,
and service events.
• Some programs might overlap.
For example, Theology On Tap is usually both spiritual and social,
but if you asked participants for a canned good donation, it might be all
2 MODELS FOR YOUNG ADULT
• In this model of leadership the
entire team “charts a course,” then the work is divided up according
to the talents of its members.
• In this model of leadership one
coordinator, or a small central committee might determine the events,
or “chart a course,” then delegate to one or more persons to lead an
event according to their area of specialty.