One of the things we struggle to answer in youth ministry is this: what are we really committed to do? why are we committed to doing it? what is God calling us to be committed to? what is our level of commitment? WHO are we committed to?
I find myself pondering about these questions because sometimes I feel that I lose sight of what it is that I am really committed to. Sometimes it feels that I am only committed to youth ministry because I am committed to my friends. Sometimes I feel I am only committed to youth ministry because I am committed to playing music for worship and I love it. There are many reasons and none of them are wrong. But for the past couple of days I have been called to dig in a little bit deeper on what is the meaning of real commitment when we serve in youth ministry. I've felt that when commitment becomes real in a youth servant, the foundations of the apostolate becomes stronger.
I look at the faces of the young people I serve in the apostolate with and when I see their faces in fervent prayer I know that there is no mistake, their hearts beat for the same thing. To see the glory of God in the land of the living.
However, what makes youth ministries thrive does not only come from a one time gathering of prayer. The growth of the ministry depends on our growth as ministers.
And sometimes, it can elude us. This question of growth. It becomes too deep and all the activities related to it seem insurmountable. But one thing is certain, our growth is seen in how we treat each other. Our growth is seen in how we come to know the Lord and how we continue to long to know Him more. Our growth is seen in our love. If we do love, then should we not want what is better? If we do love, should we not care enough to know the truth?
The apostolic exhortation of Pope Paul VI says this,
This fidelity both to a message whose servants we are and to the people to whom we must transmit it living and intact is the central axis of evangelization. It poses three burning questions, which the 1974 Synod kept constantly in mind:
- In our day, what has happened to that hidden energy of the Good News, which is able to have a powerful effect on man's conscience?
- To what extent and in what way is that evangelical force capable of really transforming the people of this century?
- What methods should be followed in order that the power of the Gospel may have its effect?
What does it take to answer those questions? How much honesty do we put in being able to face these questions ourselves? How deep have we truly encountered the Lord in our gatherings that this encounter propels us to continue to seek after Him not just after one worship service or one powerful conference? How deeply do we want this encounter to stay with us long after the eventful moments of a retreat comes to pass? How deep do we want it to permeate our lives? How much of it do we want to run in our veins?
And why? Last week I attended a preaching by Brother Arun Gogna of the Feast and he pointed out a message so strong. He said that the only time we are able to commit to change for the better is when we have a big enough reason that answers our big enough why.
When I watch the faces of these young ministers, I find hope that in this dark world they can be that light. They can be that beacon of hope. For God continues to relentless pursue their innocence and their childlike spirits.
But it remains my prayer that as they answer the call to serve God in kingdom building, I hope they heed these words and know that they are part of a long line of generation of kingdom builders that have also faltered and felt "out of it" and that's okay. And it is okay to not look so powerful or extravagant for a moment. And it is okay to not always have that "ooomphhh". What matters is that our hearts remain united and yielded to the One who has called us here.
I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who sends a love letter to the world. We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love. (Mother Teresa)
The Church is an evangelizer, but she begins by being evangelized herself. She is the community of believers, the community of hope lived and communicated, the community of brotherly love, and she needs to listen unceasingly to what she must believe, to her reasons for hoping, to the new commandment of love. She is the People of God immersed in the world, and often tempted by idols, and she always needs to hear the proclamation of the "mighty works of God" which converted her to the Lord; she always needs to be called together afresh by Him and reunited. In brief, this means that she has a constant need of being evangelized, if she wishes to retain freshness, vigor and strength in order to proclaim the Gospel. The Second Vatican Council recalled and the 1974 Synod vigorously took up again this theme of the Church which is evangelized by constant conversion and renewal, in order to evangelize the world with credibility. (Pope Paul VI)