ideas to start a YOUTH MINISTRY PROGRAM IN YOUR PARISH

By Fr. Michael Anderson Director, OCA Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries

1   Ask the youth! Young people want their church to be a great place. If   asked properly, they are full of ideas.   

2   Have a Youth Sunday. If the youth are not already an on going part of   the parish’s liturgical cycle, find ways to get them involved. Have them manage   the candle sales, the offering baskets, and coffee hour. Gather a group of interested   young singers and have them sing something as a group in the services. Have   a young person write and give a sermon with the help of the parish priest. For   more particulars, see the “Planning a ‘Youth Sunday’” article in the   Youth Ministry section of the OCA Resource Handbook.   

3   Plan a retreat/gathering. They are a great opportunity for young people   to become more informed and articulate about their faith. They can even have   fun doing it! Every retreat needs opportunities for the participants to just   “hang” with each other. 

4   Start an AROY, AOYC, or Junior “O” chapter. The American Romanian   Orthodox Youth, Albanian Orthodox Youth Council, and Jr Fellowship of Orthodox   Christians in America are nationwide Church affiliated youth organizations.   Many parishes are forming new chapters. Becoming a chapter is a great way to   meet other Orthodox youth in the area and around the country. Once a chapter,   you are connected to hundreds of other youth across North America. It is also   a great way to become involved in local and national service projects.    

5   Have a fellowship event. Get everyone together and go skiing, roller   skating, or bowling. Take a group to a football game, or other sports event.   Let them know that you can be a Christian and still have fun. As with everything   we do, just begin and end with prayer. 

6   Youth Auction. Offer services to parish members at a small fee for a   Saturday and donate all proceeds to charity (IOCC, Project Mexico, etc.).    

7   Plan a visit to a nursing home. Make cards for residents with photographs   of the people that made them with a personal note about themselves.   

8   Visit the home bound. Bring a meal, and most importantly your love! The   time you spend with them will bring them—and you—a great deal of joy.    

9    Help out at a local soup kitchen once a month. You might also   want to explore the possibility of helping at a homeless shelter.   

10   Start a tutoring program for local people who can’t afford to pay. Use   the Church as a meeting place. 

11   Find out if the church needs anything —an icon, chalice, church school   materials, new front door etc. Have a fund raiser, and donate the needed money.      

12   Visit some parishioners in the hospital and pray for them. Make and deliver   card and gifts. 

13   Have a lock-in fast to raise parish awareness about world hunger. End   with a short Service of Thanksgiving for all God has given us, and a prayer   for the needy.   

14   Start or help out a local food pantry. Look into your area’s agencies   that deliver meals to homebound individuals, such as Meals on Wheels. Offer   your services. 

15   Make audio tapes of an Orthodox book for people who have trouble reading.   Ask your parish priest for help in making appropriate selections.   

16   Make a video or cassette tape of Saturday Vespers and Sunday Liturgy   for someone who is homebound or away at college. 

17   Ask your priest if a group can bake and bring the Church bread for a   Divine Liturgy. Organize a group to do the baking together.   

18   Plan a meal [spaghetti dinner etc.] for the parish, or maybe a group   in the parish, such as the parish council, the elderly, priest’s family, etc..    

19   Offer to greet the visitors at Church for a certain number of Sundays.   Invite the visitors to attend coffee hour after services. 

20   Find adults who want to share their faith and lives with young people.   Get together with them and examine what Orthodox Youth Ministry is, and get   them involved. The OCA Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries has an Introduction   to Youth Ministry guide that is an excellent resource.   

21   Start a Scouting program in your parish. Many parishes, like Saint Seraphim’s   Cathedral in Dallas, TX, are forming scouting groups. SCOBA’s Eastern Orthodox   Committee on Scouting is available to help interested communities with religious   award and scholarship programs. They can be reached at 862 Guy Lombardo Avenue,   Freeport, NY 11520; 516/ 868-4050,   

22   Ask the youth! None of us like things being planned for us. Get everyone   together and include them in your planning. Some of the most effective youth   ministry occurs when youth minister to each other.