For me personally, youth ministry has always been an important part of my life. It’s why I have a strong relationship with God today, and it’s also why I desire to share this with others. The JSC shares this desire, and it has been a blessing in helping me to develop my ministry skills so that I might be more capable of sharing God’s faith, hope, and love with others.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned through this ministry is the concept of “pre-evangelization.” You work closely with several schools and thousands of students through this internship. We specialize in a variety of retreats: on-campus, off-campus, single-day and overnights. With this work comes apparent conflicts. Since the retreats we offer are usually mandatory for students, you often initially find retreatants who aren’t enthusiastic. And, you can imagine, 1-3 days is not a whole lot of time to form active and lasting relationships with the teens we work with. Yet, amid these difficulties, we constantly find that most teens we work with leave with a positive view of their experiences.
I feel this is because of our focus on pre-evangelization. Our goal is not full conversion, nor is it to teach deep theology or apologetics. It’s providing a few days sample of God’s grace so that their hearts might turn to Him should they favor the taste. We won’t play an active role in their lives after our time together is over, but we’ll ideally have just enough time to help them build a small foundation for their faith to grow. We plant seeds, not trees, (so to speak) but offer our retreatants whatever we can to help nurture their faiths into something more fruitful.
On our retreats, we try to keep our students interested. They’re filled with short but meaningful activities we call Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. Each one promotes a different message, based on the themes and lessons their school or parish wants imparted. Topics may be trust, gifts and talents, solidarity, kindness, community, love, etc.
We are also often given opportunities to share with the retreatants where God has been present in our own lives through witness talks. We also allow our retreatants an opportunity to engage in prayer. We’ll lead them through guided prayers or try to emphasize personal reflection through journaling and times of silence. On some retreats, we’ll even play music for the retreatants, leading them in praise and worship. One more way we try to engage our students is through small groups, helping students process parts of the retreat and allowing time to express themselves on a deeper level.
Through this ministry, I’ve learned many helpful things. I’ve had the opportunity to better hone my storytelling and public speaking skills. I’ve learned icebreakers and activities to provide more active learning experiences. I’ve learned how to practice active listening and how to lead small groups. I’ve learned to live and grow in a community of loving and supportive peers, to help where I can, and accept help when I need it. I highly recommend this opportunity to anyone interested in enhancing these skills. If you are passionate about youth ministry, can see the good in even the smallest change of heart, and are willing to try to improve both your own faith life and those of the youth, this position may be right for you.
God bless you in your discernment!
We will be praying for you!
“For I know well the plans I have for you” says the Lord. Plans to help you, not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”
If you or anyone you know may be interested in our Ignite Internship, you can find the application here.