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New Youth Advisor/Youth Coordinator , “Let’s Talk” Midwest UU Leadership Fall 2012Nancy Combs-Morgan, MidAmerica Coordinator for Emerging Youth and Young Adult Ministries
Begin “doing” by reflecting…. By reflecting on the hopes and dreams for youth ministry in your congregation Structure and intentionality are essential in achieving your dreams What is the “structure” of your youth group? What are the expectations for adults working with the youth group?
How do you begin?Do you have a registration rosterWhat communication vehicles exist for youth in your congregation?Review social networking policies with DRE and/or ministerHave you made sure that your information has been given to your DRE for a background check?
Before Meeting with the Youth GroupHave you met with your fellow youth advisors? Consider a SMG approach…Are there greater goals in the congregation which the youth group should be responsive to? Ex. Having more multigenerational services or social justice efforts; milestone events; new initiatives (Standing on the Side of Love)
Youth Group In-GatheringIt’s time for the first youth group/youth class….consider:Hospitality-recruit at least 2 returning youth to be greetersBe Intentional-go through last year’s list of participants/visitors to send out a facebook and/or e-mail invite for the first session
In-Gathering, cont.Before the first sessionrecruit adults and youth to make the space welcomingare there special needs considerations…does the space reflect a welcoming feeling for a “new start,” or does the space only reflect former attendees and/or former activities
Balance Structure and CreativityConsider a structured session allowing time for fellowship, creativity and for building a covenantBe prepared that first session with a chalice lighting and consider a brief small group ministry session (at least 30 minutes)
Creating the CovenantWith a youth co-leader in the covenant processbegin with a template of former covenants, weave the congregation’s covenant into this (if there is one)Model good facilitation skills in this process, give examples of “Step up, step Back; speaking with one voice; assuming best possible motive, etc…)
Resist Going Right to Goals/TaskThe inclination is often to get right to “work,” setting goals for the year, assigning roles, etc…attend to group process and governance (how decisions are made)Take this time to review the 6 components of a balanced youth program (have the 6 components posted throughout the space)
Six Components of A BalancedYouth ProgramWorshipCommunity BuildingSocial ActionLearningLeadership DevelopmentYouth-Adult Relations http://www.uua.org/re/youth/leading/45563.shtml
Six “Killers” of a Healthy YouthProgramUnqualified AdvisorsLack of PlanningUnbalanced ActivitiesUnwelcoming AtmosphereLack of Church supportBad Communication (Jack Brand)
Safe Congregation IssuesReview your congregation’s safety policies, covenant with your fellow advisors to adhere to these policiesBe on board with these policies – they protect our youth, but are also there for your protection – use a team approach, strive for 2 adults to always be working together with youth
Youth Faith Development Unitarian Universalist youth leadership development lays a groundwork for enabling young people to realize that they are moral agents, capable of making a difference in the lives of others…(and to) Accept that they are responsible for the stewardship and creative transformation of their UU religious heritage and community of faith. Vision Statement from Tapestry of Faith, http://www.uua.org/re/tapestry/62884.shtml
Youth Ministry Working Group – A newdirection with five core values…. A vision of youth ministry which is: -congregationally based -spirit and faith centered -counter oppressive -inclusive and multicultural, and Grounded in multigenerational faith communities (Youth Ministry Working Group, www.uua.org/youthministry)
The Steps to Building Community For over 20 years one of the central pillars of UU youth ministry was the “Steps to Building Community” – bonding, opening up, affirming, stretching, deeper sharing and goal setting. The “steps” illuminate a group process, but there is a need for a deeper grounding Do you have a process of evaluating your goals for youth leadership development, using those 6 components: worship, leadership, youth/adult relations; community building, social action and learning?
A deeper grounding … Unitarian Universalist congregations are called to start and maintain youth groups; fostering leadership and spirituality with youth, and building communities wherein all youth are affirmed, empowered, and spiritually nourished. Consider integrating four strands…ethical development, spiritual development, Unitarian Universalist Identity and faith development
Pathways for Youth LeadershipDevelopmentInvite youth to plan, participate in and lead worship, multigenerational programs, social justice projects, etc…Create opportunities for youth to engage in spiritual reflection through small group ministries and/or other programs
Pathways to Youth LeadershipDevelopmentRecruit and train youth to serve on congregational boards and committees(not just youth specific committees or the RE committee)(Youth on Board, www.youthonboard.org)
Widen Youth Voices and ParticipationTake time to evaluate in your congregation the possibilities for youth to be full members – what are your guidelines for membershipComing of Age programs and membershipAre all of your committees, task forces, boards, etc…open to youth leadership?
The “Developmental” part of youthministry Key developmental tasks of the middle adolescence stage (ages 15-18) 1) finding a valued place in a constructive group 2) cultivating problem-solving skills 3) acquiring support systems and knowing how to use them 4) finding ways to be useful to others 5) finding ways to feel a sense of basic self-worth (Nurturing Children and Youth:A Development Guidebook)
Next steps: What will you do to reach out to other youth advisors in your area/district/region? Be an advocate for youth in the congregation Set an early goal for youth leadership development – send them to Youth Midwest Leadership School, www.mwls.org Check out the “Luminary Leaders” program, http://www.uua.org/re/youth/leading/luminary/index-shtml