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Part Five: Implementation of the Pastoral Plan

 

Sons and Daughters of the Light: A Pastoral Plan for Ministry with Young Adults
November 12, 1996, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.



Getting Started

The value of any plan depends on the ability of the local community—a diocese, parish, campus, military chaplaincy or organization—to implement its strategies. This section of the pastoral plan will help pastoral planners begin the implementation process. Throughout the implementation, continue to pray for wisdom, understanding, and guidance from the Holy Spirit. Below are ten steps to start your outreach and ministry.

  1. Form a core team to undertake the necessary assessment, planning, and implementation. This can be comprised of young adults who have already demonstrated some interest or leadership in the parish or campus or of young adults known to a staff member. Other members on the core team may be from the parish or campus pastoral council, professional staff, and interested adults and young adults. Depending on the situation, an already existing group might be asked to undertake the necessary assessment, planning, and implementation. If the local Church has young adults from different ethnic and cultural groups, consult with them to identify the best approaches for evangelization and ministry. There should be at least two or three people from each significant ethnic group on the core team. This is even more important where there are different language groups or great diversity in the same church community. Once the core team has been formed, they should study this plan of action. it is also necessary to provide ongoing education and formation for the core team, staff, and other ministry leaders.

  2. Assess the situation in your local community. Consider using the following questions to assess the present situation of young adults—both single and married—in church life. What does the community know about young adults? How do young adults perceive the local church community? How easy is it for young adults and newcomers to get involved? How sensitive and responsive is the community to the needs of young adults, especially those who are alienated and unchurched or those from various ethnic groups? How do the issues we have discussed relate to the lives of young adults? How does the preaching stimulate and challenge them to deeper faith and action? Use the principles listed in this plan to develop further assessment questions.

  3. Complete an inventory of what is already taking place. Identify what programs exist in the community specifically for young adults and those where young adults are part of a larger church ministry or program. Determine how many young adults are presently involved in these programs, ministries, and apostolates. Try to determine how many young adults live within the community but do not participate. Where possible, find out how old they are, whether they are single, married, engaged, divorced, or single again. Try to assess why young adults participate in or are absent from church life.

  4. Educate and provide formation. Gather the diocesan, parish and/or campus leadership to study this plan of action. Identify ways in which the local Church can be more accessible to young adults. Involve the participation of several young adults from the ethnic group(s) within the community. Arrange for training in leadership and small-group skills. for assistance, contact the diocesan office responsible for young adults.

  5. Improve involvement, participation, and integration. Determine how the diocese, parish, or campus invites young adults to be involved in current programs, ministries, and apostolates. Develop a realistic strategy by identifying steps to improve the outreach to young adults. Use the four goals of this plan and the input of young adults; they will know what works best for their age group.

  6. Invite and welcome. Develop a response that is based on personal outreach to those who are not currently involved, to the unchurched, or to those who have left the Church.

  7. Offer new activities, organizations, and programs. Once the leadership of the community has assessed the situation of young adults, build on current opportunities and organize new activities, organizations, and programs. Use the goals, objectives, and suggested strategies as starting points for your outreach and ministry.

  8. Identify peer initiatives and activities. At times, it may be necessary to create similar but separate programs for young adults. Older adults may not always be comfortable working with young adults, and some activities are better accomplished within the peer group. Understand that the mobility and the schedules of young adults demand more flexibility and occasional programming. They may not be able to commit themselves to weekly or multiple-session programs, but they can participate in single-session activities and individual programs.

  9. Establish a multi-year implementation plan. Set up a three-year implementation plan with realistic and achievable objectives based on the four goals of this plan. Identify specific ways to measure success. Evaluate your efforts repeatedly and consistently. Discuss funding requirements with parish and diocesan leadership.

  10. Keep the vision. Keep the vision of young adult ministry in the forefront and let it guide your work. When initiatives do not work as planned, critique them, but do not give up on your dream. Identify people locally and nationally to be your mentors and support. Contact the national organizations whose mission it is to continue effective outreach and ministry with young adults.

By investing in young adults today, the Church will yield much in the future in the forms of stewardship, leadership, and vocations. Further, young adults' investment in the Church will be one hundred fold because of their talents, abilities, education and desire to serve. 
Kris Egan, Iowa


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