Bringing the Light to Our Youth and Young Adults
In the summer of 1998, I was serving as a volunteer youth minister but I wasn’t baptized in the Holy Spirit at that time – I didn’t even know that there was such a thing. I didn’t even know that I needed the Holy Spirit. Or even, that the Holy Spirit could equip me better as a youth minister! How lost I was! However, things were going to change - quickly. Our youth ministry group had a charismatic retreat team visit from Ontario that involved youth and leaders. We received Baptism of the Holy Spirit in a retreat like the Life in the Spirit Seminar (although it wasn’t called that at the time). The young people who led the retreat gave their testimonies as to how Jesus had changed their lives radically and they were different – with Holy Spirit energy and a joy and zeal that was very compelling. Our youth were deeply changed through this experience, and like me they were never the same when hands were laid on us and they prayed for us to receive the Holy Spirit.
In 2016, we have a generation of youth that are “plugged in” but often “tuned out” of conventional approaches to ministry and church. But I still believe that the initial proclamation of the Gospel is most effective and powerful peer to peer. There is such power in personal experience as opposed to virtual realities. Online resources, in my opinion, are great as a component for sustaining and growing faith once a young person is evangelized, but God works best person to person – although He can use any method He chooses – and the technology can and is used by Our Lord.
However, one drawback of the technology culture is the short attention span that we have developed (myself included). Like the use of the remote control for the TV, we can often flick in and out of websites, giving them only a brief glance for a few seconds or minutes, rather than thoroughly examining sites for the richness of resources that they contain. With the following caveat, I have been able to find Catholic resources on the internet, which would be excellent to share with youth and young adults.
First starting with non-technology option, I can recommend a book called, “Life in the Spirit for Your Kids” written by Ken Wilson and David Mangan. This is a manual for introducing children 6-15 to a deeper experience of the Holy Spirit. It contains six talks for young people and can be used much like the Life in the Spirit Seminar Manual. It also gives detailed directions to youth leaders or parents, a section with Scriptural meditations for youth, and the last section has testimonies that youth have given in response to their experience. I have used this in the past and have found it to be a beneficial resource, although you would likely want to personalize some of the talks as they are given.
I.d.916, is a new ministry which comes from Renewal Ministries in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The name i.d. refers to the identity that youth and young adults are called to as intentional disciples of Jesus Christ and the call to holiness and mission. 916 refers to 1 Corinthians 9:16: “If I preach the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for necessity has been laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel.” The site contains videos, a social stream, blog, and a chat room. Youth can connect by live stream to talks that are being given every month. There is support provided for starting new chapters of i.d. 916. Their website is http://www.id916.com/
Steubenville Youth Conferences can be downloaded as a podcasts under the name Franciscan Youth’s Podcasts and Spirit and Life Franciscan Conferences Podcasts. Steubenville also offers 468 videos on YouTube as well as Face book, Twitter, and Instagram. These feature dynamic speakers such as Fr. Mick Schmitz and singer / songwriter Jackie Francois, Leah Darrow (of America’s Top Model fame), as well as personal testimonies from youth. LifeTeen Inc also has 106 YouTube videos. Connected with LifeTeen is Mark Hart, also known as the Bible Geek. He has a podcast called Sunday, Sunday, Sunday Podcast which explains the readings of the Sunday Mass in a very engaging way for young people.
For Canadian content, we have Riseup which are the university conferences that have been organized from CCO (Catholic Christian Outreach). CCO, which is a missionary movement aimed at evangelization university students. CCO has a blog, Face book, Twitter, and a YouTube presence.
Finally, the best resource that I have seen lately is thewildgoose.com. I recommend this for anyone, at any age – youth or adult. Professionally produced, with a breathtaking scope, (reminding me of the quality of Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism Series), this is a 14 episode series which looks at the experience of the Holy Spirit, narrated by Father Dave Pilvonka, TOR. It also features some young adults who share their experiences of the Holy Spirit. It can be watched alone or watched with others. It invites all those to say, “Come Holy Spirit.” Check out http://thewildgooseisloose.com/ You will be blessed by it.
Unfortunately, many young adults have not had an opportunity to develop a personal relationship with Christ. As it says in Romans 10:14 “But how can they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach?” For youth, who do not have or do not attend youth ministry events in their area, these resources can be used for the proclamation of the Gospel. These are a good example of the New Evangelization – these are new methods that the Lord is employing to draw His children to Him.
by Christine Manuel