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Oct 08

12 Things a Catholic Youth Minister Can NEVER Say

Here’s my top 12 list of things we can’t say in Catholic youth ministry. I hope it’s enjoyable and informative.

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12. I never learned that in theology

Of course you didn’t. If you think that you will learn every practical detail from your theology degree, you’re dreaming. There is a lot of practical stuff theology doesn’t teach. THis is coming from someone who got high marks studying theology in Rome – it didn’t teach me everything.

Authoritarian Scout Master

11. Because I say so

This one is acceptable every so often, but it’s overused more than underused. Teens need reasons. If the best you can give them is this, you need to think about it and give them a better answer.

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10. Father I’m not responsible that couch lit on fire

Were you directing the youth group? Yes. Then, apologize. You should be avoiding serious problems like this in the 1st place; but they still may happen. In one study, 40% of recently fired youth ministers had grown their youth group in the past year but ran into issues like this. Be humble.

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9. Let’s begin in the name of Mother Earth

If you don’t know why this is wrong, please don’t apply to be a Catholic youth minister. We believe in God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; not some goddess called Mother Earth.

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8. Let me tell you a 12th story about my grandpa

Your personal stories are helpful and can often be used but if they are overused, they get annoying. youth ministry is about teens and about Jesus, not you.

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7. Here’s how you eat caviar

OK, there’s the rare case this may work. However, so often we can try to do things that are way above where the teens are. You need to meet teens where they are. We shouldn’t leave teens so low but there are a million things I’d teach before this.

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6. Me and my live-in boyfriend…

If you are cohabitating, why are you a Catholic youth minister? And if for some reason, you still think you can pass on the faith, don’t broadcast your hypocrisy.

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5. I’m perfect all you need to do is be like me

You aren’t perfect. Besides, the state of life God calls each is different so some teens won’t be called to be like you. Third, the models you should give the teens are Christ and the saints; modern examples work but making yourself an example can only be used very occasionally.

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4. Couldn’t you stay home and save us the trouble

If you don’t want to accept tough kids, you should stay home. Don’t tell the kid to. The Church is, as Pope Francis said, a field hospital for sinners not a museum of the righteous. If a teen irks you, try to help him but never reject him.

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3. Let’s begin this year by reading book 4 d 2 art 3 q 12 of Bonaventure’s Commentary on Peter Lombard

I can’t remember if this number actually exists. For starters, the work stated has never been translated into English (I did a paper on it and had to do original Latin translations). Beyond that, you need to start with teens at the basics and not blow over their heads with your most advanced theology lesson. You should involve your theological training, if you have it, but it should be natural not forced and beyond the teens’ comprehension.

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2. What’s your name (to a teen who’s come every week for a year)

Know your teens’ names! If you don’t know the names of the kids, you’re telling them they’re not important. It’s OK to ask a teen his name a few times over the 1st month or 2 he shows up but if he’s a regular and you still don’t know his name, you’re in trouble.

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1. The Eucharist is just symbolic

Never preach heresy; especially regarding core dogmas like this.  Jesus is really present in the Eucharist; this is central to our faith. A Catholic youth minister is responsible for transmitting the Catholic faith not his own opinions.

These are some whoppers that youth ministers could say. Can you think of any others that are even bigger whoppers? Have you heard any of these?

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