Youth Ministry

Do you have Confirmation in the 8th grade?  Do the students in your program want to attend class each week or do you see that they are less than excited?  Last year we began a new program that we entitled S&L (Spirit & Life).  We promoted it as a Confirmation experience for all 8th graders – both our School of Religion students and our Catholic School students.

Here what we did: Our School of Religion/Religious Ed. office have teamed up with the youth ministers to create an out of the classroom experience.  It is more of a group gathering model.  We knew if we could help teens grow in their faith in a way that was not the traditional classroom model we would have a better chance of engaging them in their faith and fostering in them a desire to stay involved long after the 8th grade year.

Our Format on a given Sunday goes more or less like this:

~ Gather in the Gym where many adult mentors are around greeting them, talking with them and playing basketball, frisbee, & hacky sack.

~ We begin usually with an icebreaker/activity.

~ We move into the Youth Room and either show a video, have some kind of skit/role-play and intro to the topic of the night.

~ Usually one of our youth ministers shares something about the topic and gives some thoughts about it.

~ Then we break everyone up into small groups to explore further the topic of the night.

~ Finally, we gather in the Youth Room to de-brief and encourage them to live their faith.  We often have something that we give them to remind them of the night – a bookmark, a sticker that they put on their shoe (I will follow Christ), etc…

The feedback we received last year and so far this year is very positive.  Almost all the students prefer this format to the classroom model.  This year we asked all the parents and students to attend on the first night where we gave everyone a glimpse of what we do and what our vision was.  That too was well received and really helped give parents an insight to it all.


What are you doing in your program that is helping your Confirmation candidates want to stay involved even after Confirmation?

This past Sunday our parish began a new 8th grade Confirmation Program.  Our goal was to get our students out of the traditional classroom model of religious education and find a way to more fully engage them as well as involve the whole parish (public school and Catholic school students).  We want to foster a Confirmation program that is bringing all or our Confirmation candidates together in an environment that engages them and inspires them in their Catholic Faith. 

Here’s what we did on our first night:

We gathered 200 kids in our Gym for a few icebreakers which they seemed to really enjoy.  Then we moved into our youth room where we did a random skit.  We kept the kids laughing at the beginning of this night.  We really wanted to set the mood for this year and start things off right.  Then we introduced our theme for the night: “Come Follow Me”.  Jesus Christ is at the heart of our ministry to these young teens and we don’t just want to teach them about Jesus but we desire to lead them closer to Jesus and in a relationship with Him.  We showed video clips from 4 different movies that focused on making a decision to go forward, to do something that was challenging but significant.  After each video clip a 30 second to one minute commentary was given.  We wrapped this part up by reading from Matthew 4 where Jesus called Peter and Andrew to be fishers of Men. 

Next we had students gather in small groups (they will be in these small groups all year) and take some time to get to know one another as well as have the catechist/small group leader shared how they have followed Jesus in their lives and what difference that has made in it. 

We concluded the night by gathering back in the youth room and challenging them to follow Jesus and walk in His footsteps.  We had them put a sticker on the bottom of their shoes that said: Come Follow Me.  

It was a great night!  We are very excited about our new format which we hope really draws these students closer to Christ in a way that they will enjoy.  May the Holy Spirit continue to lead and guide us. 

What are you doing in your ministry to engage students?