I volunteer with the youth ministry at one of the local parishes, as the youth minister is a personal friend of mine. I never thought that I was temperamentally suited to work with young people but it seems that "gruff and surly" works with a lot of teenagers. Icebreaker games never appealed to me even when I was a youth myself. We generally follow the LifeTeen outline for game ideas. Some turned out well, some didn't. But I thought last night's plan was one of the best we've done yet, if I do say so myself.
After dinner we all went into the church for a brief talk from a core team member, followed by a Rosary in front of the tabernacle. Unfortunately, when the church was wreckovated decades ago the tabernacle was moved off to a side chapel. The pastor is open to moving it front and center again, but our bishop, for whatever reason, is not allowing any tabernacles anywhere to be moved. Anyway, once the Rosary was finished, we went out to the soccer field for a bonfire. Our team's resident musician led them in Praise and Worship songs. My four loyal readers have already guessed that P&W isn't my style. I don't actually dislike that kind of music per se, it's only when it's performed at Mass that I want to rend my garments in fury.
The last half hour was a Q&A session where they could ask anything about the Catholic faith that entered their little heads. I told them that eventually they would all move on from LifeTeen, whether because they'll go on to college or just decide it isn't for them anymore while still a teen. And that's okay. The only reason why any of us work with them at all is because we want them to stay close to Christ and his Church. One young man from the local Jesuit High School said that pretty much everyone he knows who has graduated from that institution left the faith. I kept silent but thought, "What do you expect from Jesuits?" I have to believe that the corruption and decline of the Jesuits is the work of Satan. They used to be the best and the brightest of the Church's religious orders. Now, there is no heresy, sacrilege, or blasphemy so outrageous that some Jesuit hasn't uttered it in the last fifty years.
It's fine to attract the teenagers with food, fun, music, and games when you're starting out. It's good to give them solid catechesis since the odds are good they aren't receiving any at school or at home. I think the LifeTeen outline suggests alternating each week between catechesis, socials, issues of the day, etc. The best thing is to introduce them to the Church's many spiritual treasures. I wouldn't be volunteering for this if it was just going to be another social club to keep kids out of trouble on Sunday nights. I like to hope that God can do some good in these kids' lives even if he's only got broken rusty tools to use like me.