Connecting teens and young people with Jesus, the Church, each other and the wider community through enriched lived experiences as members of God’s family.
A community where youth are welcomed unconditionally, where they can have a positive lived experience of relationships with Jesus, the Church, each other and the wider community. A place where young people feel they belong, where they are heard, respected and cared for. A place where they are encouraged, empowered and equipped to lead meaningful and purposeful lives as disciples, friends and members of God’s family. Connected Youth is a Catholic ministry where our youth know they ‘fit in’ because their identity and self-worth is founded on God’s Love, and aren’t afraid to stand out and live counter-culture and Christ-centred.
Romans 12:2 states “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will”.
This is the Bible quote that drives Connected Youth. Whilst all Christians are counselled to be in the world but not of it, adolescence presents its own unique challenges and this is an opportune stage in life where young people can be encouraged and guided to live out this truth.
At Connected Youth, we strive to address all aspects of the adolescence developmental stage. We endeavour to provide a safe environment where the physical, cognitive, social, emotional and spiritual needs and wants are taken into consideration and holistically catered for.
At Connected Youth we strive to understand, respect and serve a new generation of youth. McCrindle (2005) argues that if we can understand what today’s youth most value, this may help us to determine how to most effectively engage them. He states that this can be broken down into three areas: relational concern; bigger meaning; and trusted guidance. In terms of relational concern, young people are “seeking community: to be understood, accepted, respected, and included” (McCrindle, 2005, p. 3). They work hard to live up to what their peers expect of them, and their self-esteem often rests on how well regarded they are in their group or sub-culture. Furthermore, the third strongest felt need Australian teenagers have is for guidance or direction in their life that is trustworthy (Manpower Inc Questionnaire, 2000, cited in McCrindle, 2005). Additionally Ang, (2012) asserts that four essentials are needed to effectively engage today’s high schoolers, these being knowledge, authenticity, relevance and relationships.
Hargreaves and Earl (as cited in Hill & Russell, 2004) argue that the main characteristics and needs of early adolescence can be summarised as requiring adolescents to:
- adjust to profound physical, intellectual, social and emotional changes;
- develop a positive self concept;
- experience and grow towards independence;
- develop a sense of identity and of personal and social values;
- experience social acceptance, affiliation, and affection among peers of the same and opposite sex;
- increase their awareness of, ability to cope with, and capacity to respond constructively to the social and political world around them;
- establish relationships with particular adults within which these processes of growth can take place (p. 3).
Additionally, his Grace Archbishop Mark Colleridge states that “the territory has changed” regarding the Church (Leadership Development Day, 8.6.19). At Connected Youth we strive to work for and with the Church as we serve and rebuild positive meaningful connections.
In attempting to cater for a generation, we must seek to understand it. When mapping a generation, McCrindle (2005) affirms that we ought to look at the demographics (which gives us numbers), the sociographics (which define how a society interacts and operates) and the psychographics (which give insights into the values, the motivators and the behaviours of a population. All of these aspects are and will always be taken into consideration when we engage with our youth.
At Connected Youth, apart from acknowledging the adolescent developmental stage and the realities and challenges this generation faces, we especially embrace adolescent spiritual development. Moore (1999) shares three stages in adolescent spiritual development that we as a youth ministry adopt as we serve our young people. These are:
The Purgative Stage – The goal at this stage is to cleanse oneself from a false sense of self, particularly low self-esteem.
The Illuminative Stage – The goal here is to help adolescents move from self-preoccupation to establishing and nourishing a relationship with God.
The Unitive Stage – The goal here is to help adolescents come to feel at one with God and all His living creation.
As we seek to build Connected Youth through ongoing discernment, we strive to keep up with generational shifts and the present-day Church (being ‘in the world’) whilst most importantly seeking ways to cultivate and enrich a deep, meaningful and purposeful life through a relationship with Jesus and an eternal perspective on life (‘not of the world’).