Where to Begin?
Starting a Young Adult Ministry where one has not existed before is a difficult but worthwhile task. Through the guidance of the parish priest, organize a small committee of interested young adults. This committee should consist of the priest, youth director, young adults, a parish council member, and others who are interested in developing a young adult ministry. This group should be diverse in its makeup but united in its mission, gathering initially to plan the first activity, and meeting regularly thereafter to determine goals as well as consider the needs of the ministry.
It is important to take an inventory of your parish and the young adults in it. Consider the following as you begin to develop your Young Adult Ministry:
- What is currently happening with the ministry at our parish?
- How are young adults involved in the life of the church?
- What is the make-up of our young adult population?
- What is the history of Young Adult Ministry in our parish?
- Do we have a local college/university nearby? If yes…Is there a campus ministry (OCF) organized?
- How do these college students participate in the life of the parish?
- What do we want for our young adult program?
- How many young adults could we potentially serve?
- What is the population we are looking at?
- Who do we know that meets this criterion?
- Which other members of the parish fit into the target population?
- Who knows them?
- How do we find the unknown?
- What resources and strengths do our parish and young adults possess that will help this ministry?
- What barriers do we face?
- What are these young adults already involved in that might conflict with this ministry’s activities?
- Who are the important people to have involved in the ministry?
- Do we have any other Orthodox parishes nearby? If yes…Have we done things with them in the past?
- How can we collaborate with them?
- What do the young adults want from this ministry?
By understanding your needs and resources, you can properly determine the goals for your Young Adult Ministry. A good formula to follow is: Needs + Resources = GOALS
Goals and Plan
After completing the assessment of your parish community, develop some preliminary goals for the Young Adult Ministry. Be realistic and start small—you can build from there. Consider the following questions using information from your Needs Assessment.
- What purpose will this ministry serve?
- How will we meet this purpose? (meetings, activities, etc.)
- What resources are available to support the purpose of the ministry?
- When is the best time to hold activities?
- What do we want to do for our initial activity?
- What will be the different roles and responsibilities of people involved?
- How will we communicate activities?
- How will we plan activities?
- What obstacles might we encounter?
Often times in church ministry, we fail to take the necessary time to plan. Planning may take extra work initially but it saves time in the long run. The most successful church programs plan ahead not just by one week or one month, but a whole year in advance. Sit down with your Young Adult Ministry Team and take the time to outline and set goals each year.
Organize a list of potential young adults. To compile this list, look through the parish directory and consult with your parish priest. Send an introductory email/letter to all of these young adults letting them know about the formation of a Young Adult Ministry. Send an invitation to the first activity and follow up with a phone call or personal e-mail from the planning committee. Recruit others in the community to assist in the personal contact so that the burden does not fall on one person. Make sure to also list the activity in your parish weekly and monthly bulletin.
Consider creating a group page through Facebook as a means to advertise for your ministry. As your group grows, this can serve as a homepage for your ministry calendar, group members, photos, etc. It's also important to call or send a personal email to new participants or those who do not come as frequently. Evite.com is also an excellent and creative resource for sending out event invitations and reminders. Whatever the venue, consistent communication is crucial to group development.
The initial activity should be an activity indicated by the Needs Assessment as something young adults like to do. The purpose of this activity is not only fellowship, but also to build interest—start off with a bang. The activity should be free, and having food is always a good idea. At the end of the activity, take 10 minutes to go over what the plans are for Young Adult Ministry and get input from the young adults present. People support what they create, so really listen to what the young adults tell you. Have a flyer for the next meeting ready to hand out at this time. Make sure to gather everyone’s email address and contact information. It will likely take a few activities to get the desired attendance; be patient and don’t become discouraged.
Participation in Young Adult Ministry will vary from year to year. Special efforts should be made to keep the ministry vibrant and healthy. When it is evident that a certain individual is not participating in the ministry, a special effort should be made to reach out to the young adult in order to bring them back to the group. Always consult with your parish priest first, as he may be aware of sensitive situations that may be preventing the young adult’s participation.
Ways to do this are:
- Have the parish priest contact them.
- Have a peer contact them by e-mail, phone or in person.
- Send a “we miss you” letter.
- Make a home visitation.
It is important to make sure that the ministry is meeting the needs of the young adults who participate. The program should be evaluated at least once a year to see if it is accomplishing its goals.
- Annual Events - When something works well, make it an annual event. It gives the young adults something to anticipate.
- Consistency - Be consistent! This will build your ministry. Hold meetings at the same time each month.
- Record and Review - Make sure to document every young adult gathering’s date, time and location. Review what went well and what did not at the end of each meeting and activity. Keep receipts for records. This will make future planning much easier.
- Cost - Be careful of the cost when planning young adult gatherings. No young adult should ever feel excluded because an activity is too expensive. If you have an outing that is a little more expensive than others, find a discrete way to make arrangements for the young adult who may be experiencing financial difficulty to participate. A group fundraiser is always good in this instance.