Principles and Goals of Ministry with Young Adults

a multicultural crowd of people cheering

Who Are Young Adults?

Young adults are persons in their late teens, twenties, and thirties who represent diverse cultural, racial, ethnic, educational, vocational, social, political, and spiritual backgrounds. They are college students, workers, and professionals; they are persons in military service; they are single, married, divorced, or widowed; they are with or without children; they are newcomers in search of a better life.

The Key Principles

The following principles are offered to guide the development of effective ministry with young adults. NOTE: This list is taken from the USCCB document, Sons and Daughters of the Light: A Pastoral Plan for Ministry with Young Adults (1996).

  1. Young adults internalize their beliefs and values within a supportive community and live their vocation in the world.
  2. Young adults seek opportunities for relationships with their peers and experiences that are intergenerational and multicultural.
  3. Young adults understand both the message of faith and the traditions of the Church when these are communicated through words, symbols, and activities that relate to life experiences.
  4. Young adults respond positively when the Church invites their participation and engages them in the planning of activities for the spiritual life of the community.
  5. The Church meets young adults where they are present: the workplace, the home, the campus, and the civic community.
  6. Effective ministry invites young adults into the life of the Church and collaborates with them to identify specific initiatives for the young adult community.
  7. Effective ministry assists young adults to become spiritual people, thereby developing a holistic and healthy understanding of life and deepening one's relationship with God.
  8. Effective ministry provides young adults with constructive opportunities to ask questions and to discover answers present in the teaching and tradition of the Catholic Church.
  9. Effective ministry with young adults engages them in peer ministry, as well as family ministry.
  10. Effective ministry acknowledges, understands, respects, and celebrates the cultural diversity of individuals and communities.
  11. Effective ministry facilitates and engages young adults in an awareness of and an invitation to the work of justice, peace, and compassion.
  12. Effective ministry includes the commitment of necessary resources for the evangelization, catechesis, and pastoral care of young adults.

The Four Goals 

The U.S. bishops have identified four goals for ministry with young adults. These goals (and the objectives and strategies contained in Sons and Daughters of the Light) should guide the diocese, parish, campus, military, and organization in developing practical plans for ministry to and with young adults.

Goal One: Connecting Young Adults with Jesus Christ

To foster the personal and communal growth and education of young adults toward a relationship with Jesus Christ leading to Christian maturity.

Goal Two: Connecting Young Adults with the Church

To make contact with young adults and to invite and welcome them to participate in the life and mission of the Christian community, which proclaims Jesus Christ by preaching the Gospel.

Goal Three: Connecting Young Adults with the Mission of the Church in the World

To invite young adults, through healthy relationships, work, and studies, to embrace the mission of Christ to promote the building of the kingdom of God in the world today, thereby bringing about the transformation of society.

Goal Four: Connecting Young Adults with a Peer Community

To help young adults develop relationships with peers who share similar values and beliefs which nurture and strengthen their faith, thereby creating communities of support.