There is no one size fits all when it comes to ministry, especially in Young Adult Ministry. If you would like to start a group in your parish (or region), here are some suggestions. What works for one group may not work for another.
1) Pray and ask others to pray
Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and ask others to pray. This is a good way to get a parish involved in Young Adult Ministry. Many older Catholics are very concerned about younger Catholics not being in the pews and would be very happy to pray for this ministry.
2) Talk to the Pastor
Even if you are hoping to create a regional Young Adult Group, you will still want to connect to a parish (probably one centrally located) and will need the support of the pastor and parish staff.
3) Gather a small group of Young Adults for an initial brain storming session
Consider what you as a group may want to focus on while keeping in mind some of the goals of Young Adult Ministry set forth by our Bishops:
- Connect young adults to God through Jesus Christ
- Connect young adults to the Church and the Christian community
- Connect young adults to the mission of the Church in the world
- Connect young adults to a peer community to further support and nurture their faith
Some other things you may want to keep in mind, although young adults are those in their 20s and 30s, there are subgroups within the Young Adult Cohort.
- Single and still discerning their vocation in life
- Married couples or married with young children
- College students
- Those just out of college in their mid-20s
- Those who have been out of college for a while and are settling down
Although all young adults should be welcome, what you plan may be more attractive to one of these subgroups than others, and if you want to involve young couples with small children your events may be quite different than if you are aiming at those just out of college.
Young Adult Groups usually include prayer, religious formation/catechetical content as well as social and service components. It is important however that all your events have a social component where young adult can make connections, form friendships and be comfortable talking about their faith journeys and explore their relationship with Christ.
Think about possible types of events your group may want to plan. One thing might be some sort of lecture series – theology on tap, or coffee and Catholicism. Other ideas would be a coffee house /open mic type event. Or perhaps a potluck followed by a bible study, or a faith discussion. Perhaps you would like to have a prayer event such as a Holy Hour or a Praise and Worship followed by a meal.
4) Let others help
Whatever you do, it takes a lot of work to get a group off the ground. Don't try to it by yourself. Everyone should have a stake in the group. Invite people to form a core team. It may be the original group that got together to brainstorm, but keep inviting new people. This way, when others from the core move on (and, being young adults, they will), there will always be new people to take over the reins.
5) Plan an organizational/kickoff event
Whatever you plan, you want to create an opening event – something that you can invite young adults to attend. Perhaps a Mass followed by a cookout, or maybe just a listening session where young adults can come and share ideas or ask questions. Or perhaps it is just the first of a lecture series.
Whatever type of events you end up planning, include the following in everything you do as a group:
- Prayer – it can be as simple as just an opening prayer, but include prayer in every get-together of your group
- Hospitality – welcome everyone who comes, connect with them, get their names (nametags are a great idea!), get contact info (you want to be able to invite folks). Many young adults, especially those just out of college are alone and are looking for a place to belong.
- Socializing – leave time for socializing at the beginning and the end of the meeting or event. It is important that young adults have an opportunity to get to know each other and it also allows those who are running a bit late not to miss out on the core of the meeting or event. Also keep eye out for those who may be shy or who may need a little help getting introduced to new people.
- Have something to center the meeting on: whether it is a speaker, a meal or an activity like a movie, game night or service project, there should be a purpose for people getting together.
- Listen, ask for feedback. Listen to those who attend to learn their needs, hope, questions. This will help you in planning future events and also what direction your group may go.
6) Have regularly scheduled meetings in a regular location
Have events or meetings planned for after the initial kick-off. The best thing is to have a regular schedule, whether weekly or monthly. A good idea is to have a monthly planning meeting with a core team, and then a monthly event on the same day each week or month (every Tuesday night or every first Thursday of the month). Also, at least in the beginning meet in the same location every time.
7) Advertise, invite, get people to your events
Use every means available to invite young adults: word of mouth, email, church bulletins (find out the deadline from the parish secretary!), flyers, Facebook, webpages, etc. If you form a group, also let the Diocesan Young Adult Ministry know so it can be advertised on the Diocesan webpage. You never know, there may be Young Adults who are willing to travel further than you think!
8) Jesus told his disciples to feed his sheep, not count them
We would all like young adult groups with many members, but most groups start small (and some stay that way). Remember that where three or four are gathered, Jesus is in the midst of them.