Presentation for youth ministry town hall meeting, Sunday, May 10, 10:30 and 12:15.
First, some definitions:
When I talk about “youth,” I mean persons in early and mid-adolescence. In our culture this usually means persons in middle school, typically in puberty and/or early adolescence — and persons in high school, typically in mid-adolescence.
When I talk about “ministry,” I mean that which we do here at UUCPA: doing the work of transforming ourselves, transforming each other, and transforming the world. And of course I mean to imply that such transformation is for the better!
Next, I’d like to review the state of youth ministry at UUCPA:
Here at UUCPA, we have a long history of boom/bust youth ministry. By this I mean that there will be an active high school youth group for a few years, then for a few years there will be no youth group, then we’ll repeat the cycle. I have heard of more than one instance of siblings in UUCPA, one of whom got to attend a robust high school youth group, and the other of whom did not. A similar pattern seems to prevail with our middle school youth.
This history goes back to about 1970. In the 1960s, UUCPA had a high school youth group with some 50 members, as well as a good-sized junior youth group. Then around 1970, the Baby Boom ended, and the number of youth began to drop. What appears to have happened is that our youth program never adapted to this new smaller size, so ever since the late 1970s we have seen a boom/bust cycle, with high school youth groups ranging between zero and ten youth.
That’s the history. What’s going on now?