The Junto has on occasion discussed the pros and cons of the typical parish Youth Ministry program. The discussion generally goes as such:
It’s good that the youth are attending, but are they growing in the faith and equipped for adulthood, or more likely are they just there to hang out and have a good time? Many of the activities are childish with “just a little” religion mixed in. Certainly we all know the exceptions – the youth that take the Faith seriously and have solid roots. But does the typical Youth Ministry program provide the best result in achieving the objective of making souls holy and prepared for future temptations? Where do the parents fit in – besided dropping them off? Is the Youth Ministry model simply an extension of the children’s liturgy concept, where parents are removed from being the primary teachers of the Faith?
The Augustine Institute out of Colorado has taken a fresh look at Youth Ministry in light of similar questions. As a result, they have create a new model of Youth Ministry called YDisciple. It is based on the concept of mentorship/apprenticeship of small groups of youth by their parents and other adults. This program claims to serve the purpose of creating a stronger bond of religious-context personal interactions, enabling the teens to be better prepared for the challenges to the Faith that they will experience in adulthood.
Whether this new program will catch on will be determined by whether parishes feel that the status quo Youth Ministry programs continue to be culturally relevent or not. But as Catholics face the expectation of heightened opposition and active persecution in society, we must be ready to take that next step for training our youth to be the remnant of the Faithful in future generations. Perhaps this program could be a step in that direction.
I know of a couple local informal meetings of parents & youth that are applying this principal. Comments for or against this concept would be interesting to consider.