Pope Francis teaches that the Church needs to see herself as young with a heart that is eternally young like Christ’s. He makes clear that at the heart of all youth ministry there is to be an invitation of love to show Christ is a person who loves immensely and who asks for our love in return.
At this time, for all time, people need an encounter with Christ, who is the source of life and love. ‘For being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction’ (Christus Vivit, 129)
It is only in response to this encounter that our young people will truly grasp the love that God desires to share. It is through this experience that young people will trust and turn to the Church as a place of relevance and truth. Pope Francis teaches: ‘I wish simply to emphasize that youth ministry involves two main causes of action. One is outreach, the way we attract new young people to an experience of the Lord. The other is growth, the way we help those who have already had that experience to mature in it’ (Christus Vivit, 209)
“The community should feel collectively responsible for accepting, motivating, encouraging and challenging them. All should regard young people with understanding, appreciating and affection, and avoid judging them.’ (Christus Vivit, 243) ‘Youth ministry has to be synodal; it should involve a “journeying together” (Christus Vivit, 206).
The Church also needs to form its young people, which is the responsibility of the whole community. Pope Francis encourages us to not consider young people as passive members of the Church community but to help them to actively discern their gifts. They need role models for this, people who are witnesses and teachers of the Kerygma. Young People need to be loved and affirmed and led to a discovery of their own personal vocation as a task given uniquely to them. They need elders who ‘radiate life’ who are there ‘with them and for them’ who live their life with integrity. (Christus Vivit, 211)
‘We aim to encourage young people into a relationship with Christ and fully into the life of the Church’ – YMT Mission Statement.