About HOPE Parish Partner
HOPE (Helping Our Parishes Evangelize) Partner Program
All for God’s HOPE Parish Partner program assists parishes in their mission of evangelizing teens with the gospel of Jesus and forming them into disciples. All for God’s HOPE Parish Partner program is truly a partnership. Our staff has over 30 years of experience in building and sustaining a vibrant, year-round comprehensive youth ministry. We provide the Programing and Administrative support to help a parish youth ministry program to flourish. We mentor the youth minister and the team. We support the pastor and the parish in their mission to reach their teens. Our goal is to help you bring your youth into discipleship. Together we are a team transforming teens for Christ.
A youth minister has to stay focused on the primary goal of bringing teens into discipleship in Christ. Research shows, and experienced youth ministers know, that there are key elements that must be included in a ministry to have this impact. These elements include, developing within each teen: their personal story of God’s love in their lives, an identity of being Catholic, connection into a faithful community, a sense of hope, a desire & ability to Evangelize, and building within teens a faith language where they can communicate what they believe. The HOPE Parish Partner program is focused on accomplishing these key elements.
All of this is accomplished through careful ministry planning.
Youth ministry requires a focus on building authentic mentoring relationships, careful planning and programming, building a volunteer team, and working collaboratively with parents, the Pastor, parish staff, and much more.
The administrative side of youth ministry can seem overwhelming to many new youth ministers and can quickly lead to stress, frustration, and sometimes burn out.
Our HOPE Parish Partner Team works side by side with youth ministers to provide instruction in youth ministry best practices. Our individual coaching covers such topics such as database management, marketing, budgets time management, and more. We work with youth ministers to streamline the administrative side of their ministry so they can focus on reaching more teens.
Comprehensive Youth Ministry
A vibrant, effective youth ministry is life giving to all teens and to the entire parish community. Youth groups are the most common way a parish ministers to teens. To reach as many teens as possible, a parish should offer a wide variety of opportunities for teens to connect into, and experience the fullness of youth ministry. That is why offering activities such as social events, service opportunities, youth nights, leadership development, bible study, prayer and worship, and Confirmation Prep are so important. These events ensure that every teen has a place to belong. Woven together, these groups and events are parts which together make up a whole comprehensive youth ministry. The most effective youth ministries focus on outreach, community, catechesis, the spiritual and developmental needs of teens, and on empowering teens to be full disciples, actively engaged, in the life of their parish.
A comprehensive youth ministry is a proven way of meeting the spiritual and developmental needs of teens, of helping them to find truth, meaning, and relevance in the teachings of Jesus Christ. What is an effective youth ministry? What does it look like? In 1997 the US Conference of Catholic Bishops answered these questions. After much study, thought and prayer the Bishops issued Renewing the Vision, A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry. The Bishops called on the whole church to reach out to teens and draw them into “the life, mission, and work of the Catholic faith community.” Renewing the Vision encourages the church to minister to teens in eight essential areas. These eight components of comprehensive youth ministry are Advocacy, Catechesis, Community Life, Evangelization, Justice and Service, Leadership Development, Pastoral Care, and Prayer and Worship.
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops identifies comprehensive youth ministry as meeting the needs of teens in eight key areas. This is a summary of the elements found in “Renewing the Vision.”
Standing with and speaking on behalf of teens. Engage the church to examine its priorities and practices to place teens and family first. Help the church to integrate teens into the life, mission and work of each Catholic parish community. Empower teens.
Teaching the faith. Help teens to develop a deeper relationship with Jesus, by increasing their knowledge of the core content of the Catholic faith. Foster growth in the mind, heart and will.
Creating a welcome environment rooted in Gospel values where every teen receives respect and acceptance. The community supports the individual teen and fosters meaningful relationships among the teens and between teens with adults. Develop skills in creating and maintaining friendships through relationships centered in Christian values.
Sharing the good news and helping teens to experience a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and His church. Key elements include outreach, witness, affirmation, invitation, conversion, and discipleship.
Justice & Service
Nurturing teens in a social consciousness rooted in faith through Jesus. Empower teens to alleviate human suffering, to defend life, and to establish dignity and rights of all people, as exemplified by Jesus in the scriptures.
Developing skills in teens that lead to leadership in church and communities. Guidance through invitation, training, support, and nourishment. Empower teens to make a difference in the world.
Providing a compassionate presence of the church to those who are hurting. Care for teens and their families in crisis through support, guidance and referral to appropriate professional services. Use of preventive strategies by building skills and morals, which allow teens to make better life choices.
Prayer & Worship
Cultivating the prayer life of teens. Deepen teen’s relationship with Christ through daily prayer and liturgy. Involve teens more fully in the sacramental life of the church, especially Eucharist.
Evangelization is Outreach
Youth ministry needs to be open and inviting to every teen. Our focus is not solely on the 10 or even 100 teens attending the meetings, or who are in Confirmation preparation. Great youth ministers are always looking for ways to connect with more teens. Who are the teens that made First Communion, or attended elementary religious education classes, or the parish school, but are not engaged in the church? Which families have recently registered in the parish and have teenagers? Is there a public high school near the parish? Statistically 25% or more of these students are Catholic. How many are engaged in the parish? And what about teens with no faith, or whose families have never provided any religious experiences, or the teens of other faiths? Are all teens welcome and wanted; do they feel welcome and wanted?
Youth ministry should offer a variety of social events, large and small meetings, and spiritual retreats which will give new teens an entry point into the program. The goal is for youth ministry to be a place where they can belong, and grow in faith.
Relational: Youth ministry is relational. Teens are looking for authentic mentors who can help guide them. The most powerful evangelization occurs when we take the time to listen to and care about the concerns and questions teens have. When we care our faith shines through, teens see we are living what we believe, it validates what we teach. Youth ministries need caring adult and teen leaders who will invite teens to participate and then build caring relationships with them.
Effective youth ministries provide a community where teens know they are welcome, and by extension, that the church wants them and values them. With its rituals and formalities, the church can easily be seen as a place only for adults, a place where teens are tolerated but not wanted. Youth ministry provides a community specifically focused on teens. Here, a new teen meets other teens, who live similar lives, have similar struggles, like the same type of music, movies, activities, and styles of dress. It is a place where healthy friendships can be formed and where families know their teens will have fun and be safe, all the while surrounded and embraced by loving, Catholic, Christian values.
Adult mentors encourage teens to build supportive relationships and discourage the formation of cliques. Youth ministry teams should actively build a sense of community, and encourage teens to care about the other members of the group, especially the newest teens who are just beginning their involvement.
Catechesis and Spiritual Needs
It is during the teenage years that we move from a family faith focus to a sense of personal belief. Our goal is to help teens embrace and understand “I am Catholic” not just “my family is Catholic”. To do this, teens need to receive and understand the full Gospel as shared through our Catholic faith. They are ready to learn and understand how our faith connects and has relevance to the issues and concerns in their lives. They need for us to engage them in scripture, in the catechism, and in the faith witness of the saints. Comprehensive youth ministry provides many opportunities for teens to learn their faith and to grow spiritually.
Through well planned and executed meetings, at community and justice & service events, and through retreats and youth rallies, faith can be taught, lived and shared. The best youth ministers strive to include prayer at every meeting and event. They help teens to develop a prayer life, to be engaged in the liturgy, and to understand Gods deep love for each of them.
Teens are moving from childhood into independent adults. They need to have activities that are fun, healthy, active, and help them connect into positive peer relationships. Teens also need a sense of mission and purpose in their lives. When we engage teens in the Justice and Service life of the church teens experience that they can use their abilities to positively impact others. Through house building in impoverished countries, teaching elementary religious classes, helping at Vacation Bible School or Family Camp, working at the food bank, participating in the Walk for Life, bringing jackets and sleeping bags to the homeless, etc. teens can live out the gospel message to care for the least among us. As they see their ability to help others teens also develop a sense of hope about their own future.
Pastoral care – These issues including alcohol, drugs, chastity and healthy dating, self image (particularly young women and the issues of anorexia, bulimia and cutting) depression, stress, and difficulties in family relationships.. Who is more likely to face the issue of a crisis pregnancy and the question of abortion than a teen or young adult, either their self or a friend? Youth ministry can help build foundational skills to avoid these problems and the relationships of trust necessary for a teen to be able to reach out when they have a problem. The church should be a resource of healing, allowing teens and their families to connect into networks of professional to help with these issues.
Empowering teens – Catholic leadership development. Teens need to move from being passive receivers into becoming active and engaged in their faith. After all Discipleship is learning and living the teachings of Jesus. Great youth ministers understand that all teens have the ability to grow as leaders in their faith. We best serve our youth when we provide meaningful ways for them to lead and share. Leadership is not just a personality trait; it is something we nurture in teens. Understanding this means the youth ministry team invites teens to lead, provides training on the skills they need, and then supports the teens by creating opportunities for them to actually lead. By looking at the many roles and activities in a meeting, liturgy, retreat, or event, we can a variety of areas that our teens can exercise leadership. A church community that welcomes teens will soon find that the teens are eager to share their talents and abilities.