Last evening I was invited to discuss a Parish’s Youth Group program to find ways to engage and grow the program. During the evening we came up with a lot of great ideas and strategies. One of the best phrases/ideas that came up in regards to a tag-line for marketing the program to 8th graders who had just been confirmed, “Let’s Create It”
Okay, so you need some context here…Basically, we were discussing how the youth group of high schoolers has never really taken off, despite close to 90 7th and 8th graders in the Religious Education program. What a pool of potential participants! Has anyone communicated with them? Are we creating different programming for them post-confirmation to prevent the drop-off? All of these questions and many more were discussed. We came up with the insight that the drop off after what has been lovingly called, “Catholic Graduation” is the biggest pressing challenge. Participants go through confirmation and even though the programming for the high school youth group might be organized and engaging, by the time they are exposed to it- it’s too late for those who dropped out already.
How do you prevent this? How can we get them engaged earlier on?
Easy answer: Let THEM Create It.
Let THEM Create It: What we mean by this is empowering your active participants to start engaging during their 8th grade year, exposing them to leadership opportunities by asking them what they are looking for out of their youth group experience. Just ask them. Simple survey, conversations, anything really to get them engaged and involved. While you can take all the suggestions in stride with your planned programming, identifying the “cheerleader” for the program is just as important as knowing what you are going to do during your meetings.
Our faith life is a lot of “Let’s Create It” really. Not that we are recreating the faith or anything, but throughout the journey of faith from Baptism to Last Rites we are exposed to opportunities to CREATE a deeper meaning and experience of faith. We create faith opportunities. Every time you say yes to reading during Mass, volunteering for the youth group or joining the service project, you are saying YES to CREATING a new faith-filled experience in your life.
What opportunities for faith exploration are you creating during Lent?