On March 6, 2021, about 30 young people and leaders gathered for an online Trivia Night hosted by the Diocesan Youth Movement (DYM). The trivia game is a popular tradition of the DYM’s annual winter retreat, which was cancelled this year for obvious reasons.
It was so much fun – a lot of laughter, random facts, silliness, community, and prayer.
For me, it was a reminder of how much I love ministry with young people, but also, how important it is.
I believe it is so important that I not only attended, but put in many hours preparing for it, despite not having any of “my” young people in attendance.
To be honest, it is arguable whether my little church even “has” any young people. We do not have a youth program and there are no teenagers if you were to look out at the congregation on a typical Sunday morning (pre-COVID-19). I imagine that this is probably the perspective and position of many of our parishes and parish leaders in this diocese.
If this feels like you, allow me to take a few moments of your time and make the case of why I believe that it is even more important for you and your church to be involved in youth ministry, particularly with the DYM.
1. You have more youth than you think.
Sometimes I think we get into mindsets that since we don’t have a weekly youth group or a paid leader that youth ministry isn’t happening or couldn’t happen in our church. I would argue that you probably “have” more young people than you think (though can young people really be “had”). Do you know any young people? Does anyone in your congregation know any young people? Are there any young people living in your parish (that geographic region for which we are responsible, not the four walls of the church building)? If the answer to any of these is “yes,” then you can do youth ministry too! Maybe it doesn’t look like that Friday night youth group at the moment, but you have the opportunities to connect with, encourage, support, and pray with and for young people, right now.
Six months into my ministry here, I brought two tenuously connected teenagers to last year’s DYM Winter Retreat. They had a great time. I don’t know if anything will come of it, but it was a great opportunity to connect some young people (particularly when there are very few engaged in the community) to something bigger than themselves and the local parish. I myself found community and my faith deepened by larger youth events like the ones the DYM runs at a time when my home church’s youth program was at a low point.
Use the DYM! Sponsor that one acolyte, encourage that parishioner’s grandkid; who knows where it may lead.
2. There’s no need to be afraid.
I get the sense that people in churches can at times feel overwhelmed by the idea of youth ministry, that they feel like they wouldn’t know how to relate with a young person, even if they did darken their church’s doorstep. It’s a strange youth phobia, and I say that because I believe it is mostly irrational. Young people are first and foremost people, who value relationship, care and interest, same as anyone else. Some of the best “youth ministers” I’ve ever had in the Church have been people who never would have considered themselves as such.
Come and offer some leadership at a DYM event to practice interacting with young people and get over that fear. On top of that, I can’t oversell the wealth of experience and wisdom accumulated in the leaders who commit their time and energy to this ministry. Don’t know how to start engaging young people in your community? I suggest sitting down with a couple of these committed youth ministers over a meal or break in a DYM event to pick their brains.
3. We are the Body of Christ
Not every congregation offers every ministry all the time, that is the beauty of being part of the Body of Christ. It is a strength of our Anglican polity that we collaborate, each bringing gifts to our shared life and ministry. Even if you are not able to bring young people from your community to a DYM event, you have an opportunity to support and be part of this amazing thing in our diocese, serving the young people of our Church and beyond. It is exciting, soul-filling, life-giving work, well worth being a part of.
Still unsure? Connect with the DYM. We’d be happy to talk with you about youth ministry. We desire, pray for, and work towards thriving youth ministry in the parishes of this diocese.
For those who are ordained, DYM leaders will be visiting the different clerici of the diocese in the coming year to share about what the DYM does, learn more about what is happening in the parishes, and to learn about how we might be able to support that work further in the future. We look forward to seeing you!
Allow me to conclude with the words of the DYM’s mission statement (there is a long-standing tradition to shout out together the words in all-caps. Please join in as you are able).
The Diocesan Youth Movement in the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster affirms DIVERSITY of individuals and perspectives while fostering RELATIONSHIP with God and with each other. We seek to EQUIP youth and youth leaders to seek CHALLENGE and GROWTH through POSITIVE ACTION within individuals, the Church and the wider world.