I had the pleasure of speaking at my home parish of St. Paul’s this past Friday night as the SPIRIT Pre-Teen Youth Ministry held its kick-off event for the year. It was also the start of SPIRIT’s 10th year of ministry, so in recognition of the impressive milestone the night featured a few special presentations among the prayer, games, and of course, good food.
Knowing I only had 3 or 4 minutes to speak (the short time-frame was intentional given both the students’ short attention span and my penchant for liking the sound of my own voice…haha), I wanted to come up with something that was easy to remember and could be referred to throughout the year.
So after a quick introduction, I shared with them these 3 truths:
1. God LOVES you. This is the one constant you can count on amidst all the chaos and changes that will happen in your life. God’s love is unconditional and is ever-lasting. As believers, you are called to love as He loves. No matter how bad things may seem, you can take solace knowing that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing: God is love. He loves you, and He always will. After all, He made you in His image and likeness.
2. The Church NEEDS you. Anytime I hear someone say that the youth are the future of the church or the church of tomorrow, I politely suggest a slight revision to that statement: youth are important RIGHT NOW and you are the church of TODAY. You are just as important as the adults, the seniors, and the children. We need your voice, your energy, your gifts, and your child-like (not childish) faith. The more that our parish engages the young people, the stronger it will be. Us “older folk” can learn a lot from you!
3. The Leaders will PRAY for you. Believe that when a leader asks you what he or she can pray for, that they will! You may not fully understand right now what it means when someone says that he or she will pray for you, but it’s the most powerful and genuine thing someone can do. That’s what unites us as Christians: our belief in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, and the fact that we can go to Him whenever we want to. In times of joy or in times of pain. In happiness or in sadness. In times of need or in times of thanksgiving. Never underestimate the power of prayer.
I had the young people repeat these 3 truths back to me a few times to ensure they got it. As I returned to my seat, I reflected upon these truths and realized that they apply not only to 11 and 12 year-olds, but to Catholics of all ages.
But for those few minutes, the focus was on those beautiful and precious pre-teens. All of us involved in youth ministry need to continue to share with them the truth without any lies.
Jesus is the Way, the TRUTH and the Life.
And once we all know the TRUTH, the TRUTH will set us free.