Catholic Youth Ministry: A Call to Discipleship

by gary-foote on October 16, 2010

What is the ultimate responsibility of a youth minister? This very important question often gets overlooked in our day-to-day lives because of the busyness that accompanies a ministerial lifestyle. However, if we don’t address this question, the ministry we are entrusted with could be in trouble!

As the great philosopher Benjamin Parker (commonly known as Spiderman’s uncle) once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Youth ministers (and all ministers for that matter) have been entrusted with a great power, namely to participate in the work of Jesus Christ. So what is the great responsibility that accompanies this great power? None other than Jesus Christ himself provides us with the answer. In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus gives the Great Commission to “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).  Our job, what we’ve been commissioned to do, seems so simple and obvious: DISCIPLESHIP. But, how many times are we guilty of missing out on an opportunity for discipleship by choosing some other focus?

Unfortunately, we often make a huge mistake in our responsibility as youth ministers. We forget that we share in the work of discipleship, nothing more, and nothing less. We can become fixated on so many things. Will the youth have fun tonight? What does my environment look like? Will my volunteer team be here on time? Has everyone been finger printed? Did I stay on budget? And my personal favorite, are we helping these young people become experts in their faith life?

Although all of those things may be important, they can never replace our responsibility of discipleship. We must always be mindful that we are called to discipleship, and part of discipleship is continual growth. A disciple has two responsibilities: learning and apprenticing. Discipleship is messy because a disciple is not a master of something but a student. Although there is an inherent messiness, there is also a great beauty in the freedom that comes from not being expected to have everything figured out. The call to discipleship is a call to continually journey closer to God and strive for the perfection of holiness. It is not an expectation of immediate success. One of the many blessings of our jobs as youth ministers is that we have the opportunity to join with young people on their journey and hopefully assist them as they gravitate towards holiness. Don’t miss out on the call to discipleship. Remember, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

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