Who are our Teens?
Who are our Teens?
St. Anthony Youth Ministry serves young people from 5th grade all the way through 12th grade and their families. Our teens from many different families, schools, and backgrounds in The Woodlands area and beyond. Here are some general facts about the context of the typical teen in our community:
The Woodlands Area
- Consists of about 115,000 residents. Roughly 17% are ages 10-18
- Ethnicity: 92% White, 7% Hispanic/Latino
- 69% of married couples live together
- The median household income is around $111,000, with 28% making over $200,000 and the next highest category (15%) making $100-150,000. Expanding beyond The Woodlands (20-mile radius), the average household income is around $94,000
- For more demographic information on The Woodlands, click here and here.
- The Good: The Woodlands is a beautiful, safe community with phenomenal schools and near-limitless opportunities for teens and families. Teens in The Woodlands have opportunities that many young people would only dream of in regards to academics, sports, community, social and other opportunities.
- Challenges: The Woodlands is known as a highly demanding, high achieving community run by "Type-A" people. It is a culture that can at times be driven by a consumeristic/materialistic mentality and many families consist of parents who are very focused on career building and wealth. This combination further contributes to the societal abandonment of adolescents.
St. Anthony of Padua
- Vibrant, welcoming 6,000+ family parish
- Serves families from The Woodlands as well as Magnolia, Conroe, Spring, Montgomery, Tomball
- 1 of 2 Catholic Churches in The Woodlands
- The Good: St. Anthony's was founded two decades ago by people extremely passionate about building a dynamic, faith-filled Church. From its inception has maintained a culture that supports young people by placing youth ministry at the forefront of its overall evangelistic efforts. While it has rapidly grown since it's inception, the overwhelming number of dedicated families and individuals has allowed the Church community to maintain a welcoming, family environment.
- Challenges: Averaging 30 new families every month, St. Anthony's continues to grow at a rapid pace, threatening its ability to foster warm relationships and a keen understanding of the Church as the family of God.
St. Anthony Youth Ministry
- Serves around 1,000 registered 7-12 grade teens and will begin serving 5-6 grade young people (Fall 2017)
- Teens come from largely public school backgrounds along with a strong Catholic school and homeschool population
- Mostly white population with a consistently growing Hispanic/Latino population
- The Good: A majority of teens want to be a part of Youth Ministry at St. Anthony - it is a very established program that welcomes teens and offers them solid formation, engaging opportunities and a structure of supportive adults that are committed to serving. There are many teens that have a relationship with Jesus and know that St. Anthony's is a home for them.
- Challenges: Generally, our teens increasingly live in a highly demanding, high-achieving community that expects success. They live not only in the "soup" of the larger Woodlands community (highly consumerist, materialistic), but also find themselves in the midst of their own unique adolescent culture. Many teens are highly overcommitted and overtaxed by their commitments and activities (academics, extra-curricular, etc.). This combination leaves many teens already experiencing abandonment on some level and can often result in the teen seeing "going to Church" as just another activity on a long checklist of things they have to do or are involved in. The large program also risks teens feeling like they are a number in the crowd rather than an irreplaceable and unique brother or sister in the family of God.
From this point on in the pastoral plan, we will depart from the discussion of numbers and facts that focus on impersonal statistics and instead aim to understand the young person not as a number but as a necessary and unique individual in the family of God: what they experience, their context, their culture.
Anchor - 5&6 Grade (Ages 10-12)
Developmental Stage: Pre-adolescence and Early adolescence
Young people in Anchor are in the beginning stages of identity development and are starting to seriously consider who they want to be when they are older. While still closely connected to their parents, they are increasingly becoming their own person. During this time it is especially important to help these youth found their identity in the fundamental reality that they are sons and daughters of God the Father created in His image and likeness. Young people in Anchor are generally highly energetic and need constant engagement. It is especially important to utilize varied intelligence modalities to successfully engage and form these young people.
EDGE - 7&8 Grade (Ages 12-14)
Developmental Stage: Early adolescence
EDGE Teens have typically entered into the stage of life known as early adolescence. "This is the time when adolescents have the body of an adult and the brain of a child (Dr. Chap Clark, A Call to Adoptive Ministry)." "The number one question [for them] is am I normal? (Dr. Kristin Witte)" They want to know "whose am I?" The EDGE teens at St. Anthony's are generally excited, high-energy and willing to engage. In order to accomplish our mission of bringing teens into a relationship with Jesus Christ, it is especially important that our EDGE teens feel welcome and that they are part of the Body of Christ; part of the family. "It is during this time that adult leaders must be able to offer young teens the ethos or feel of the adoptive work of Christ, perhaps even more so than the content of the gospel (Dr. Chap Clark)."
Life Teen - 9-12 Grade (Ages 14-18)
Developmental Stage: Middle adolescence
Teens in Life Teen are moving from early adolescence into middle adolescence. They are "not asking the question whose am I. They're not as much about the team as who am I. They want to know about the I, the independent I of older adolescence (Dr. Kristin Witte)." They are becoming independent in their thought and in the assertion of themselves. In addition to their question of identity (who am I?), they are also asking questions of belonging (where do I fit?) and purpose (what difference do I make?). While the culture at large is essentially abandoning teens to navigate the murky waters of adolescence on their own, our task must be "to help connect [them] to their older brothers and sisters in the body of Christ through adoptive ministry (Dr. Chap Clark)."