As a Roman Catholic youth minister I feel the tension between being traditional and relevant. There is so much history in the church that I feel is valuable. In fact some of that tradition has shaped me as a Christian man. At the same time there is the pressure to leave these traditions behind so that we can be more relevant and modern.
To pass on these traditions can be a challenge. Many times teens will want to know the why behind what you are asking them to do. Some traditions have been because of denominations. Some are not always relevant. And while traditional youth ministry may not be the most attractive it can have an impact on how you raise up disciples of Christ. Before you reject traditional youth or church ministry consider embracing it because it will:
- Give You A Framework: Religion gets a bad reputation for having too many rules and rituals; however, they can help with focus. Some traditions help Christians to stay focused on Christ because of their structure. Whether it’s sacraments, rote prayer or rituals help teens see how they can help them stay on the right path.
- Connect You In Community: One of the beautiful aspects of traditions (especially during the holidays) is how they remind us of friends and family members. With rituals and traditions you can show your students the size of the community of believers. Traditions are meant to connect us with the men and women before and around us.
- Tell A Story: Our traditions tell a story of what was happening to the church during that time. Obviously Christmas reminds us of the story of Christ’s birth. A feast day might tell the story of a saint who gave his or her life for Christ. The more students understand the journey that has taken place with Christianity, the more it can inspire and compel them to grow.
To help your students embrace tradition it’s important that you and I find opportunities to explore them. Maybe it means bringing them into your ministry or sitting down in small groups. Give them the opportunity to be both dynamic and orthodox when it comes to their faith. Some traditions and rituals need to be modernized, but they should not be rejected. Embrace tradition and watch your ministry grow deeper.
How do you infuse tradition into your ministry?