We officially have a structure for this year’s youth program! Our particular size and demographics have required creative and communal thinking, but we love where we’ve landed. This new structure will allow us to focus on our St. Luke’s youth values of scripture, service, and solidarity in ways that are especially suited to our youth, our parish, and our vision of “spirituality in action.” Here’s a glance at what we’ll do.
Scripture: Instead of holding separate Bible study classes, our youth are committed to investing deeply in the lectionary readings each week, and to participating in an online forum – hosted by our youth leadership team – to respond in community to a question or prompt. The question each week will come directly from that Sunday’s readings, the homily, and an understanding of the issues faced by teens in contemporary culture. Our youth will respond not just directly to the prompt, but to one another in conversation. With their permission, I will share a few of these discussions throughout the year, so watch for that!
Solidarity: We will also gather regularly in person in two ways. First, the youth will meet during Forum Hour on the first and third Sunday of every month. These occasions will be informal, allowing them space to play, talk, and slow down together; for older youth to offer guidance to younger youth; and for their understanding of themselves as a fellowship to deepen. This largely unstructured time feels especially important in a culture that asks so much of our young people. Additionally, we’re in the process of planning five to six Youth Group Recreation Nights to fall throughout the program year. These nights will include playful and bonding activities, and will offer opportunities for youth members to invite friends and siblings into the fold. We trust that these will prove to be joyful and connective endeavors for youth and youth parents alike.
Service: Finally, we know that young adults tend to maintain the religious practices that fed them as children if, as children, they understood themselves as a vital part of their parish at large. To this end, youth members will take a spiritual gifts survey on November 20th (during the Stewardship Brunch). After we’ve explored the gifts those surveys unearth, we’ll invite the leads of various ministries to come speak with the youth on December 4th: to explain their ministry’s purpose and to outline what gifts might particularly lend themselves to each group’s needs. Ministry leads will then work in concert with youth and youth parents to forge connections for year-long volunteer engagement. This will, of course, both benefit the church and allow our youth to understand their vital role in our community.
And of course we’ll be fundraising for next summer’s pilgrimage – with a likely return of last year’s Youth Work Days – so feel free to save us some home improvement projects!
Finally, if you find yourself interested in this growing and fulfilling ministry, please let us know. We would love to offer your experience, wisdom, and guidance to these dynamic young parishioners.