Birth, growth and death are the three important rites of passage and youth is regarded as one of the optimal seasons of human life. It is the spring-season in the life of a human being. Youth is a force, a power to reckon with; if guided well, they have the potential to change the course of history.
Situating Youth Ministry in the Ecclesial Context
The love of Jesus for the young was gratuitous and unconditional. He sought them out and took risk in befriending them. He affirmed the resources they possessed. He took the first step and went out of His way to reach out to them in love. It was a caring, transforming and saving love. His love for the young was an all-inclusive love transcending all barriers. The Church is called to share the same love of Jesus with the young. Youth ministers are given the power and authority to lead them towards the Kingdom of God by the help of the Holy Spirit just as the disciples were called, given the power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases.He said to them: “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money – not even an extra tunic” . They departed and went through the villages, bringing the Good News and curing diseases everywhere .
Understanding of the Term ‘Youth’
No one doubts the existence of the youth phenomenon. It is evident that youth as a stage or phase in the development of the human person has increasingly become the subject matter and often the centre of attention of many sciences, especially the anthropological, social and pedagogical. Seen from different perspectives, they have been differently styled as youth psychology, youth sociology, youth work and youth studies.
No single group in the history of humankind has ever been so problematic, so complex, so acutely studied and so seriously misunderstood, analyzed, so greatly admired and even loudly condemned as the youth of the world. Youth form more than 60% of the population in many Asian countries. The youth of Asia are about one-third of the human race. They are generally speaking, peaceful and lovable. In most cases they do not get a chance to live a decent human existence.
Definitions of Youth Ministry
Youth ministry means becoming Church with young people – focusing the ministries of the Church upon this unique stage of life with its distinct life- tasks and social context and actively engaging young people as disciples in the mission of Jesus and the Church.
Definition by USCC
“Youth ministry is the response of the Christian community to the needs of young people and the sharing of the unique gifts of youth with the larger community”
Definition by CELAM (1987)
“Youth ministry is the organized action of the Church by which she helps the young to discover the person of Christ and his message and to commit themselves to integrating their faith with their life; they become privileged agents who contribute to the building up of a civilization of love.”
Definition by CBCI Commission (1996)
“Youth ministry is the name we give to all those actions which the ecclesial community, animated by the Holy Spirit, realizes with and for the young, so as to effect in them God’s saving plan in close connection with their concrete life-situations, and through them to build up God’s Kingdom in the world.” Having seen about the definitions of youth ministry, we shall now see the theology of youth ministry and youth ministry in the Church documents.
Youth Ministry in the Church Documents and World Youth Day
The youth are a living sign of the springtime in the Church; they are a precious part of the community and have an important part to play in the Church. Only when the youth are recognized as agents and co-workers of the evangelizing mission of the Church, will their full potential blossom forth. Church documents and world youth day messages shows that Church has a great expectation and vision about youth.