Over at Australia Incognita, Kate proposes some thought-provoking questions about the amount of money being invested in professional “youth ministry.”  This is in light of the fact that the Australian Bishops are now offering scholarships for people to take a youth ministry course.

I suspect that many won’t like her questions, but I think that they are worth considering.  What are our goals in youth ministry?  How are those goals, and achieving them, evaluated?  Is the money better placed elsewhere?  Is the emphasis in the right spot?

In my mind, all youth ministry should be helping young people to know and live the faith better.  It should be helping them come to Christ, and to be converted to His way.  It should be helping them to apply the principles of the faith to their everyday lives.  It should assist them to be ‘leaven’ in the world: bringing the light of the Gospel to the situations of our times.

Youth ministry should be producing holy vocations.  It should be assisting single, Catholic young people to live the church’s teaching on sexuality.  It should be producing holy marriages and holy families.  There should be vocations to male and female religious life coming from our youth groups, and vocations to the diocesan priesthood.

Its wonderful when people find their future spouse in our youth groups, but if Catholic youth groups are nothing more than a glorified Catholic dating service, then we’ve missed the point.  I also think that if an investment in youth ministry just creates more ecclesiastical bureaucrats, then we’ve also wasted our money.

In a sense, youth ministry isn’t really attempting to do anything other than what our parish communities (and schools, and ecclesial movements) should be doing anyway.  Is the way we’re currently proposing ‘youth ministry’ being effective, or could we achieve our goals in a different way?

Anyway, have a read of her post yourself.  What do you think?