Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Youth Ministries and a nap

Today I got an email message with a link to the "Innagural Edition of the Youth Ministries Updates" online newsletter. It states a plan to publish this "Youth Ministries Updates" newsletter once a month during the interim year between the old YRUU and whatever comes next.

Well, good. I'm feeling like this youth ministry is the hardest part of my job. Yes, more difficult than recruiting volunteers, more difficult than getting preschoolers to meditate. More difficult even, than having a simple, snappy and successful Solstice Play. So, I clicked the link hoping for some inspiration and information that will help me puzzle this youth ministry out a bit.

The newsletter has a quite a bit of information about what's happening in the youth offices at the UUA; seeking an intern, the photo contest, new faces. All good things.

And it has an update about the Youth Ministry Working Group and when they met and when they'll meet agian, about new members on the team. Good, too.

Then, there's the scariest thing I've read in a long, long time. It was the Youth and Young Adult Empowerment Resolution, passed by our assembled delegates at General Assembly last summer. It urges the Unitarian Universalist Association, its congregations and district structures to:

• invite ministerial support to youth and young adults through
inclusive worship and intentional presence;

• invest financial support in youth and young adult leadership
bodies and programs when viable;

• provide support for youth and young adult staff and
volunteers to receive suitable training and resources,
including self-directed anti-racism and anti-oppression
trainings; and

• attend to the needs of youth and young adult constituents
with marginalized identities by providing resources and
opportunities within the congregation and at the district and
Association levels.

See? Doesn't that just make you want to stretch yourself right out on the couch and take a nap? Well, maybe it's just me. It feels so big. It feels like these four things could be all that I do for the whole rest of the year, and I still would only be scraping at a mountain with a nail file.

I don't know, maybe it's different in a "just barely" mid sized congregation. Maybe it's different in a church with no building. Maybe it's that I care so much about our youth and their lives that I want to lasso the moon for each and every one of them and anything else seems like it falls short.

Or maybe I just need some coffee.

Do larger congregations have an easier time implementing these four things? Do tiny ones? Does everyeone else?

Are all other congregations on this? Does everyone have working groups and task forces and committees creating grand plans and finding ways to pay for all the things we've been charged to do? What else is it that we can do?

And still find time to recruit volunteers and teach preschoolers to meditate. (Three breaths in and out listening carefully and try to close your eyes.....see? It's not so hard, really)

I hope the next newsletter has some stories from congregations of all sizes and situations who are working through the things the kind and dedicated delegates urged us to do. And really, from all situations. Please don't tell me again to let the youth paint their youth room anyway they wish. It's also the board room and a class room and the lunch room and sometimes a storage closet. I want real stories from real churches. I want inspiration, and I really, really need hope.

For now, I'm going to continue to work hard to find money to fund things that are needed, I'll keep planning real, concrete multigenerational programming. I will go to the center for homeless youth every second Tuesday with the remnants of our youth group and I will make food, and mop floors and support the youth's commitment to service. I will try to help them as they visit other local youth groups with more than three core members so that they may have a real and valuable youth group experience.

But, I'd love some help, here. I'd love to figure out what else to do.

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