Develop Warm Relationships
Action 1: Create Family Environment in Small Groups
Currently, small groups stay consistent for at least a school year, with some groups staying together for multiple years. However, it is not the norm that small group members feel like they are part of a family in the context of their group or within the larger context of the Church. To improve this we will:
- Better design the structures surrounding small groups by hand-selecting Life Teen Small Groups rather than the current method of having teens sign up for small groups. This will allow for everyone to give their preference of whose group they would like to be in, ensure that most teens have at least 3-4 friends in their group to begin, while fostering community-building across cliques.
- Start small groups off on the best footing by beginning the year by moving the annual Life Teen Retreat from October to September - before Life Nights for the year begin. This will allow groups that were formed and bonded on retreat to stay together throughout the year as their Life Night small group, allowing for a greater level of trust and vulnerability in the group from the start.
- Set Small Groups up for success and the expectation to stay together for multiple years by considering changing the time and structure of the Confirmation program and uniting Confirmation with Life Teen on Sundays (rather than a separate Wednesday Night class). Currently, the most difficult obstacle to consistent small groups over multiple years is Sophomore year, when a large number of Sophomore Life Teen small groups becoming incredibly inconsistent when Confirmation classes begin, truncating a small group's ability to gain relational traction in the short term, and eliminating the possibility for groups to last beyond the 10th grade year. Designing an updated Confirmation program that is incorporated into the Life Nights will eliminate the unintentional conflict between two small groups that Sophomores frequently find themselves a part of - Life Teen Small Groups and Confirmation classes, allowing for a Confirmation candidate to be in one, consistent small group that adequately prepares them for the Sacrament and gives their group the potential to grow as family beyond the Confirmation year.
- Change the format of snacks at Life Night from being picked up by teens as they enter to a family-style format in small groups. Every small group will have their snacks packed in a basket in family-sized portions instead of individually wrapped bags to encourage communal sharing.
Action 2: Improve Core Member Training
Our newly revised mission will never be accomplished or lived without a Core Team that is dedicated to it's realization. To equip our Core Team to successfully live our mission, we will:
- Hire an additional Life Teen Coordinator to allow the Youth Ministry Coordinator (Jonathan Cardinal) to develop more substantial relationships and rapport with the Core Team and offer better training to equip them in the task of welcoming every teen, as family, into a home in which they are blessed when they walk through our doors, while they are here, and when they leave.
- Establish a Core Team Training track that will equip all Core Members to be successful in ministry.
- Change Core Team Meeting format to foster better relationships between Core Members and allow them to take greater ownership of their ministry. Instead of weekly Core Meetings, Core Team Advocates (Core Members specially selected to lead a group of 5-7 other Core Members) will meet one time per series (on or off campus) with their Core Advocate Group to prepare for the series together and build community. In addition to this, the Core Team will meet all together once a month for a pot-luck style dinner where appropriate training will be offered along with the opportunity for Core Members to build relationships with those outside of their Core Advocate Group.
Assessing this Core Commitment in light of our mission.
Indicators of success include:
- By the 2017 Life Teen Kickoff we will: have groups that have bonded on Life Teen Retreat.
- By December 2017 a substantial number of small groups will have remained together, engaged, and well-attended. A majority of Core Members report having a positive small groups experience with their teens and a majority of teens in those groups will have enough trust in their group to share personal experiences with their group.
- By May 2020 80% of Small Groups in the 2017-2018 Freshmen class will have stayed together (Teens and Core Members) for 3 years.
- By December 2017 every Core Member will have been personally followed up with by a Staff Member (Youth Ministry Coordinator or one of the Life Teen Coordinators). Every Core member will feel like their voice is heard and that they have grown as a relational minister.
- By May 2018, 50% of the Core Team Advocates will have completed the Youth Ministry Certification through Life Teen and Franciscan University.
- By May 2018 we will: have Core Advocate Groups that have faithfully met every series and have formed solid relationships with each other.