It’s almost time for school… the hot summer days are coming to an end. That also means the end of the conference season for youth ministers and youth ministry programs across the country. From Steubenville Conferences to the Life Teen Leadership Conference, these summer experiences provide a great time for your teens to dig into their faith,
If your son or daughter attended one of these conferences it may have been a time of renewal or perhaps a starting point. Either way, what is learned and experienced at these conferences can be vitally important to the spiritual growth of your teenager. Equally important though is what happens when the conferences are over and the emotion and excitement of the experience have worn off.
The great aspects of these conferences, the excellent speakers, phenomenal worship leaders, and the hundreds to thousands of peers joining in the prayer and worship can also be the biggest hurdle. Your son or daughter can’t take those people home with them.
So how can you help your son or daughter post-conference? Here are three ways to keep up with the spiritual gains they have made this summer.
- Conferences can be a bit of an experiential overload. Emotions can run high, but emotions are fleeting so it is important to help your teen(s) grasp onto the concrete things they learned or heard during their time. Simple conversations are an important part post-conference so talk to them. Don’t just ask, “How was it?” Ask them specific open-ended questions like, “What was your favorite part? What sort of topics did they talk about? Who was the best speaker? What was challenging?” Then keep note of their responses to follow up with them later.
- Support, support, support! Conferences are full of support for teens, from youth ministers, Core Members, clergy, and friends, so it will be important to be there for them when they get home. They may want to start an accountability group, scripture study group, or a daily mass group. Encourage them to do this and to follow through. Drive them if needed, tell them you are proud of them, and keep the motivation going.
- Most important… pray! Pray for your child and pray with them. The family is the primary unit for faith formation. Youth ministry is great, Catholic education is great but nothing can replace your role as a parent and the formation that can happen within the family.