Sons and Daughters of the Light: A Pastoral Plan for Ministry with Young Adults
November 12, 1996, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The value of any plan depends on the ability of the local community—a
diocese, parish, campus, military chaplaincy or organization—to
implement its strategies. This section of the pastoral plan will help
pastoral planners begin the implementation process. Throughout the
implementation, continue to pray for wisdom, understanding, and guidance
from the Holy Spirit. Below are ten steps to start your outreach and
- Form a core team to undertake the necessary assessment, planning, and implementation.
This can be comprised of young adults who have already demonstrated
some interest or leadership in the parish or campus or of young adults
known to a staff member. Other members on the core team may be from the
parish or campus pastoral council, professional staff, and interested
adults and young adults. Depending on the situation, an already existing
group might be asked to undertake the necessary assessment, planning,
and implementation. If the local Church has young adults from different
ethnic and cultural groups, consult with them to identify the best
approaches for evangelization and ministry. There should be at least two
or three people from each significant ethnic group on the core team.
This is even more important where there are different language groups or
great diversity in the same church community. Once the core team has
been formed, they should study this plan of action. it is also necessary
to provide ongoing education and formation for the core team, staff,
and other ministry leaders.
- Assess the situation in your local community. Consider
using the following questions to assess the present situation of young
adults—both single and married—in church life. What does the community
know about young adults? How do young adults perceive the local church
community? How easy is it for young adults and newcomers to get
involved? How sensitive and responsive is the community to the needs of
young adults, especially those who are alienated and unchurched or those
from various ethnic groups? How do the issues we have discussed relate
to the lives of young adults? How does the preaching stimulate and
challenge them to deeper faith and action? Use the principles listed in
this plan to develop further assessment questions.
- Complete an inventory of what is already taking place.
Identify what programs exist in the community specifically for young
adults and those where young adults are part of a larger church ministry
or program. Determine how many young adults are presently involved in
these programs, ministries, and apostolates. Try to determine how many
young adults live within the community but do not participate. Where
possible, find out how old they are, whether they are single, married,
engaged, divorced, or single again. Try to assess why young adults
participate in or are absent from church life.
- Educate and provide formation. Gather the diocesan,
parish and/or campus leadership to study this plan of action. Identify
ways in which the local Church can be more accessible to young adults.
Involve the participation of several young adults from the ethnic
group(s) within the community. Arrange for training in leadership and
small-group skills. for assistance, contact the diocesan office
responsible for young adults.
- Improve involvement, participation, and integration.
Determine how the diocese, parish, or campus invites young adults to be
involved in current programs, ministries, and apostolates. Develop a
realistic strategy by identifying steps to improve the outreach to young
adults. Use the four goals of this plan and the input of young adults;
they will know what works best for their age group.
- Invite and welcome. Develop a response that is based on
personal outreach to those who are not currently involved, to the
unchurched, or to those who have left the Church.
- Offer new activities, organizations, and programs. Once
the leadership of the community has assessed the situation of young
adults, build on current opportunities and organize new activities,
organizations, and programs. Use the goals, objectives, and suggested
strategies as starting points for your outreach and ministry.
- Identify peer initiatives and activities. At times, it
may be necessary to create similar but separate programs for young
adults. Older adults may not always be comfortable working with young
adults, and some activities are better accomplished within the peer
group. Understand that the mobility and the schedules of young adults
demand more flexibility and occasional programming. They may not be able
to commit themselves to weekly or multiple-session programs, but they
can participate in single-session activities and individual programs.
- Establish a multi-year implementation plan. Set up a
three-year implementation plan with realistic and achievable objectives
based on the four goals of this plan. Identify specific ways to measure
success. Evaluate your efforts repeatedly and consistently. Discuss
funding requirements with parish and diocesan leadership.
- Keep the vision. Keep the vision of young adult ministry
in the forefront and let it guide your work. When initiatives do not
work as planned, critique them, but do not give up on your dream.
Identify people locally and nationally to be your mentors and support.
Contact the national organizations whose mission it is to continue
effective outreach and ministry with young adults.
By investing in young adults today, the Church will yield much in the
future in the forms of stewardship, leadership, and vocations. Further,
young adults' investment in the Church will be one hundred fold because
of their talents, abilities, education and desire to serve.
Kris Egan, Iowa
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