For those of you unable to read this article published on December 7, 2016 on LinkedIn at:
I am sharing this for your consideration and thoughts.
Today’s new insight comes from Sharon Galgay Ketcham: “Helping teenagers imagine how they might contribute to God’s redemptive movement in the world [unveils] their potential. When parents, youth pastors, and church leaders train their eyes to look beyond [society’s] ‘dominant problem narrative’ (that is, most teenagers are broken, deficient and in need of our help), to recognize teenage potential and provide a place in the church for teenagers to practice using their gifts – teenagers will find a meaningful purpose in the church.
“The busyness of teenagers is connected to the longing of adults to help problematized teenagers make it into adulthood. Imagine if we saw teenagers as Christ does: full of potential to join God’s purpose.”
I would add to see youth as Christ does means to recognize and affirm how teens are already engaged in God’s work in the world. I do not wonder that many young people are engaged in making a difference for good in their schools, their work places, their families, their circles of friends, in the local communities. Church leaders do not necessarily see it because all of this is taking place outside the Church. And teens may simply lack the religious language to explain it to us. But the Second Vatican Council affirms that “the laity ... make the Church present and operative in those places and circumstances where only through them can she become the salt of the earth” (Lumen Gentium, no. 33).
Now this is not to say that some young people are not experiencing problems or even crisis at this moment in their lives and they are in need genuine care. But adolescence itself is not a disease.
Ketcham proposes that we flip the script. What would the Church’s ministry with youth look like if it started from a place of affirmation? Teenagers are not a problem to be solved; they are the possibility for parents and youth ministers and church leaders to recognize how God is at work in the world… and perhaps, more importantly, at work in our lives.
[The quote is an extract from an interview with Sharon Galgay Ketcham, published in "The State of Youth Ministry", a report from Barna in partnership with Youth Specialties and YouthWorks, 2016.]
Cindee Case, MPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.