Commentary Sections

Youth Ministry And Pastoral Care

Commentary » Youth Ministry And Pastoral Care


Youth Ministry and Pastoral Care

Last Revised on January 13, 2012

All properly trained youth ministers need to be pastoral caregivers but only professionals are to serve as counselors. Those in youth ministry need to know that there is a significant difference between the two roles.  Pastoral care demands an integration of sound theological principles along with good interpersonal skills and programming.  Pastoral care requires strong self-knowledge, and understanding of the adolescent experience and family systems, and a caring stance toward the feelings of young people.  Pastoral care provides support, guidance, confrontation when necessary, information, and tools for empowerment.

Pastoral care is not limited to crisis situations.  Pastoral care is part of an ongoing relationship with individuals or groups.  It is pro-active rather than reactive.  We are continually being challenged to look for new opportunities to care and to help youth and their parents negotiate the adolescent years as smoothly as possible.  There will be developmental and situational crisis points that will demand a certain expertise, but an ongoing pastoral presence is also required.

Pastoral Care is a community's responsibility.  Pastoral care moves beyond parish and school boundaries to include local, diocesan, state and even national attention.  Young people are a very special resource.  Many of them live in severely at-risk situations, characterized by poverty, violence, lack of support systems, and limited choices.  Pastoral care must be a collaborative effort.  Community networks must be established, resources shared, personnel skilled in dealing with adolescent issues targeted, and communication, programming, and advocacy addressed through a multifaceted, comprehensive approach.

Many young people lack the life skills necessary to prepare for the future.  As a society, we have become compartmentalized in our thinking, and a gap has occurred in the skills taught to help adolescents cope and plan.  We need to identify skills (intra personal, interpersonal, and systematic) essential to young people's survival and success.  We must make models of competence available to young people.  Developing the life skills of adolescents is an essential element of pastoral care efforts.

Pastoral care must address the needs of families experiencing stress.  Family structures and family systems have changed tremendously in the twentieth century.  Singe-parent families and step-families abound.  Parents often are not equipped to deal with their own identity issues, much less their children's.  Teenagers often lose their place in the family structure at the very same time they are trying to identify where they belong in the larger scheme.  Parents and adolescents need time and space in which to explore these issues in a caring environment with caring professionals.

Related Policies:

There are no related policies for this commentary section.