The Important of Process

About this article

This provide a simple guide to having service experinces make a greater impact within the hearts of teens.
I usually learn things the hard and long way. I have sponsored many prayer services, service projects and other such activities for teenagers. Prior to the event, I am usually consumed with details. Permission slips, transportation, food, and the schedule are all things that occupy my mind prior to an event. When the event finally rolls around, I am a bundle of nerves hoping that the young people are getting into it, praying no one gets hurt and trying to keep track of everyone. After the event, I just want to relax and have my burden lifted. But I was missing something huge for the young people: process. A tragedy happened. A young man from a neighboring parish died while at college. For reasons I won't go into, the family asked if the young man could have his funeral at the parish where I served as youth minister. The family made one request. They wanted young people to minister at the funeral liturgy. We happily obliged.

Because of the heavy emotion, I asked for the high school students who agreed to minister to meet with me in my office. I thought it would be important to meet with them to prepare them emotionally for what they might see. They then confidently and gently ministered. As I saw them minister, I was curious as to what they were thinking. After the liturgy, I asked them to return to my office. When they I had assembled, I asked what have become my favorite questions in ministry: Where was your cross? Where was your resurrection? I was overwhelmed as these young people spoke of their love of their families, their questions about death and their gratitude for their faith. I was so thankful I didn't just let them go after the funeral.

After that night, I never did another event without first meeting with the young people to prepare them and then pose those two simple questions to them. Whether we decorated for a dance or served food to the homeless, led a small group or picked up trash, the young people were prepared, they served and then they reflected. The result was people who not only served, but were changed.


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Published August 15, 2003.