What is it that you do?

Posted by on Dec 2, 2014 in Voices

Rev. Fr. Andrew Unger

Rev. Fr. Andrew Unger is the Chair of Diocesan Youth Ministry. He is the Youth Pastor at All Souls in Wheaton, IL

About a month ago, I was named as the Chair of Diocesan Youth Ministry in the Diocese of Quincy. The first, and probably most important, question to ask in response to this fact is: “What the heck does a Chair of Diocesan Youth Ministry do?”

To be honest, I am not exactly sure.

Or, maybe more appropriately, I am not exactly sure what others in this position do. Or what others in this position have done in the past. but I can tell you how I envision my role, and maybe more how I envision youth ministry as it can exist in the Diocese of Quincy.

As I have written before, I think our churches have all the necessary components to minister and disciple adolescents. I think our churches are full of people who can love and walk alongside teenagers as they figure out who they are and grow into the adults that God has called them to be. And that’s where I believe the best “youth ministry” happens. In relationships and in local congregations.

But, I recognize that just because all the parts are there, that everyone knows how to put them together. Or that everyone feels comfortable putting them together. I occasionally do some work as an in-home IT consultant, and one thing that has taught me is that just because you have a computer, doesn’t mean you know how to or feel comfortable making use of it.

As I envision my role in the diocese, I don’t imagine that I will be doing youth ministry on your behalf. I don’t think I can be best used by running camps or conferences for your teenagers – as if just one week a year is all the church ought to do in discipling adolescents. No, instead I think what I can offer is encouragement and resources.

I want to encourage your church in working with teenagers. I want to hear what you are doing for your students and challenge you to continue loving them where they are and walking alongside them through the tumultuous years of teenage life.

I want to provide resources. Maybe for your church what you need is curriculum for a fledgling Bible study with 2 high schoolers. Maybe your church needs an idea of how to start up a mentoring program. Maybe your church has enough Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers to meet together weekly for games and Bible study. I don’t have all the answers for every situation – but I’d love to work with your church on developing habits and structures that mean that once someone at your church enters the teenage years they feel welcome and ministered to.

In short, I’d like to be less of a youth ministry czar and more of a youth ministry consultant. If you have teenagers at your church and want to bounce some ideas off of someone, or need some fresh ideas, please contact me and let’s work together on creating “youth ministry” at your church.

Contact Fr. Andrew at andrewdunger@gmail.com

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