Horse and Carriage
I remember as a kid watching the show Married With Children and my favorite part was the opening song. Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage, this I tell you brother, you can’t have one without the other. As I was driving the other day, thinking about Adolescent Catechesis and Youth Ministry, the song kept popping into my head. At first I was perplexed but after thinking about it for awhile it started to make perfect sense. Youth Ministry and Adolescent Catechesis go together like a horse and carriage. More on that in a minute. First lets look at where Youth Ministry stands at this point.
In comprehensive youth ministry there are eight components:
As you can see Catechesis is already a component of Youth Ministry and it has been for a very long time. The “problem” with Catechesis being just 1 of the 8 components is that it is viewed to have the same footing as the others. In truth that is not reality, but let’s just go with that theory for a second. That would mean that Catechesis would be one of a group of characteristics of youth ministry instead of one of the defining characteristic of youth ministry. Many will say that all things that we do in Youth Ministry point to Catechesis. That is true and good youth ministry should do that. The problem is that maybe we aren’t doing enough of the Catechesis to be memorable. Catholic kids are doing poorly when asked about their faith in every study. So, it is with good reason the USCCB has decided to put a greater emphasis on Adolescent Catechesis. That doesn’t mean that Catechesis is separate from youth ministry. They are not opposing theories. This is not the Jets and Sharks, Bloods and Crips or Lauren Conrad and Kristin Cavallari. Instead they are the horse and carriage. The horse in this case is Catechesis and we should let that pull the rest of Youth Ministry. It is the definition of what we do. Notice you still need the carriage. If you don’t have the carriage then you just have horses running wild trampling our adolescents with information, leaving them overloaded and confused. There needs to be some way of applying the knowledge. That is where youth ministry provides the meaning to the definition.
Moving forward I would like to paint a picture of what Catechesis within Youth Ministry should look like. I am basically restating a premise from Scott Miller, Director of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Baltimore Maryland and others. This model is not an original thought, but it is a thought that will help us focus our energies. In this model there are 2 big components and the others are supporting components. There is one interesting take from Miller and I agree with it. Vocations should be added as a supporting component as well.
In this model everything flows out of Catechesis and Evangelization. It is not a model that abandons the other components. In fact they are still very important to the model of how good Youth Ministry works. This model defines Catechesis and Evangelization as the horses that drive the carriage. In essence Catechesis and Evangelization are given the Jose Canseco treatment and are just a little more pumped up, but within them, all of the other components are highlighted and given their due. The reason for this method is pretty simple. The USCCB defined in Renewing the Vision the components of Youth Ministry, the Bishops felt that in order to reach young people the components were needed to give them the fullness of faith. This new model changes the flow of how the fullness of the faith is offered to young people. It is a simple modification that brings focus to Youth Ministry.
How does this effect us?
Some of us are grappling with the reality of what this change means to our ministries. Certainly many are mad about changes that have been “handed” to them. Change of perspective can be hard and is never fun, but this is an exciting time in our church. Many of us have lost many fights trying to figure out what will work best for our young people to continue throughout their life with faith. It is overwhelming to think about trying to change. Here is the point I would like to make.
"When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch." Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets." When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men." So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him." (Luke 5:4-11)
Jesus didn’t tell them to go get a different boat or that they were doing it wrong, instead he told Peter to throw the net to the other side. That is in essence what we are being asked. We are not being asked to throw away your boat, we are being asked to fish the other side of the boat. We are not up a creek without a paddle, we have the paddle, we have had it for years. We are being asked to use it with greater force. Fish deeper waters, my friends and ask our partners in ministry to help you so that your boat doesn’t sink from the catch that God will provide.
Adolescent Catechesis and Youth Ministry, Adolescent Catechesis and Youth Ministry, go together like a horse and carriage, this I tell you brother, you can’t have one with out the other.