A reflection on youth ministry

A reflection on youth ministry

Daphne Vernon, Director of Spiritual Formation at Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa, wrote a reflection about her experience in youth ministry and as a leader of Pathways.

"What is the measure of success in youth ministry? Is it loud music and a large crowd of kids, so many you couldn’t possibly remember who they all are? Or is it about building relationships in Christ and really seeing and shepherding the youth you meet with on a regular basis?

I measure success when I still have coffee with youth group members who are now in their 30’s. When kids come to ask how does my faith connect with my actions, how do I deal with my stress levels or peer pressure. I’m overwhelmed with the state of the world right now and where is God in all this?

It is tempting to think something is more successful when more kids show up. Teenagers do like to get lost in a pack, but is that because it’s easier to hide and fly under the radar? We will spend our lifetime making peace with what it means to be truly loved and known by God; adolescence and social media don’t make that process any easier.

Where in our Diocese do youth and young adults have the opportunity to serve Christ, practice self-love, and look at the hard edges of life? 

Pathways! A pilgrimage, not a summer camp, that consists of a six-day journey deeper into our faith. Walking our baptismal covenant, creating a space that’s safe enough to look at the hard truths of our history, explore what self-love looks and feels like. Truly understanding social justice and how all of us can play a role in healing and spreading love. Pathways is where young adults in our Diocese have a place to contribute and lead as they transition from children/youth to adults. It is a place where relationships are built in small groups and shared conversations. What I value in Pathways is that it’s a place to really hold evolving human beings in a knowingly intentional way. We are entering into our fourth year and kids and the young adults keep coming back; when preparing to come home each year I notice the kids have grown a little more into themselves, taking some of Pathways and Christ’s love with them. 

What can we do as adults to support Pathways back in our own congregations? Pray for all of us while we are away really stretching ourselves, pray for the youth in your congregation who are attending Pathways. When they return ask them how the pilgrimage was for them, ask if they have any new ideas or projects they would like help with. Remember back when you were most supported in deepening and growing your faith and how are you sharing that now."

For more information or to make a donation to Pathways, please contact Sarah Quinney at sarah@norcalepiscopal.org.

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