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  • Eric Gallagher

    The Cure for the Retreat High

    By Eric Gallagher

    One of the most common struggles that I hear about from youth (and that I have experienced many times myself) is the after-effect of what is known as a retreat “high.” If you have never heard of it before, the retreat high is that time during and shortly after a retreat when someone is experiencing a great consolation in their faith. It’s known as a retreat high because not long afterward, they are hit with a great struggle in staying motivated in their faith (a “low”). Time after time when
    • 2 comments
    • 381 views
  • Eric Gallagher

    It’s Impossible to “Form Young People” In Two Hours a Week

    By Eric Gallagher

    I recently read through about 80 evaluations from a day of formation offered on discipleship. One of the questions on the participant evaluation asked about specific struggles people had experienced in their discipleship efforts thus far . The most common responses had something to do with the busyness of individuals in the group or lack of commitment from group members. By far, the most popular comment described a tension between the desire of the discipleship leader to form the group members a
    • 1 comment
    • 394 views
  • Eric Gallagher

    6 Youth Ministry “Anti-Programs” That Will Enhance Your Current Programming

    By Eric Gallagher

    In my last post, I was rather critical of programs. It’s not really programs that I struggle with but rather the inability of people to think outside of their programs. I struggle with this myself. It’s easy to fall into the falsehood that we will be able to meet all of the needs of the youth within a single or maybe even a few different programs. When I say program, I mean a regularly offered event (youth group, bible study, discipleship group, etc.) that is planned and available to anyone inte
    • 4 comments
    • 652 views
  • Eric Gallagher

    Ninja Game

    By Eric Gallagher

    You may have seen this game before and not really understood what was going on.  The game is called Ninja.  It is an extremely easy game to figure out and explain but can take a lifetime to master.  Youth Ministers like it simply because they will play and analyze it more than anyone else, ensuring that they could beat any youngster up for the challenge. Here are the instructions: Size of Group:  You can play two people but I would recommend starting with at least four.  If you ha
    • 0 comments
    • 600 views
  • Eric Gallagher

    Egg Russian Roulette Game

    By Eric Gallagher

    This game was a huge success at our summer camps.  To start you will need one dozen eggs for every two teams.  Seven of the eggs in each dozen should be boiled and five should not.  Mix them up in the carton so you can't tell which ones are which.   We had the teams (small groups) send a representative up to challenge a representative from another team.  They each selected one egg and (on a count of three) smashed it on their head.  The first team to get three of the raw eggs lost.  
    • 0 comments
    • 1,204 views
Four Qualities of a Good Discipleship Leader

Four Qualities of a Good Discipleship Leader

One of the most difficult aspects of Discipleship Focused Youth Ministry is finding good leaders who are intentional disciples themselves. If you are already a discipleship leader, one of the greatest struggles is likely believing that you are or can be a good leader as well (don’t get discouraged, I’m sure you are!). When I was first becoming familiar with a discipleship approach, I spent a lot of time seeking out people who were already in the business of discipleship. One of the question

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Pope Francis on Finding Quality Discipleship Leaders (sort of)

Pope Francis on Finding Quality Discipleship Leaders (sort of)

Recently, I read an “off-the-cuff” address that Pope Francis gave to an audience of consecrated men and women. He spoke about a few different things, but the one that really struck me was the importance of identifying true vocations as opposed to simply letting anyone enter an order, join the seminary, etc. I thought about this in light of a parish finding discipleship leaders, and it really seems to make sense to me. So, I’d like to take an excerpt from his address and adapt it for our use as w

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

I’m a Youth Minister Who “Can’t”

I’m a Youth Minister Who “Can’t”

My last blog post titled Stop Trying So Hard to Evangelize was a challenge to people like me who find it difficult at times to trust that God has things under control and realize that our role in evangelization may actually need to be minimized in order to be most effective. In light of this, I want to share a list I made a few years ago that keeps me focused on the more important aspects of ministry. In my desire and prayer for humility, this list of things that “I Can’t” do help me to be free

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Stop Trying So Hard to Evangelize

Stop Trying So Hard to Evangelize

I have been struck recently by the moments in which God is revealing to me how easy evangelization can actually be. In my work of discipleship and evangelization, it seems that too often, I am focused on “doing” things that I believe will make in an impact on others as I attempt to “fix” or “help” them to know Christ better. Over the last two weeks, I have been struck by three different experiences that appear to be challenging me in this mindset. The Visitation It all started with the

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

My Desires (Goals) for 2016 in Discipleship

My Desires (Goals) for 2016 in Discipleship

For anyone who follows this blog regularly, you have probably picked up on the fact that I don’t usually choose the theme or content based on the fads or trends of the season. To be blunt, I am ordinarily inspired more by conversations and experiences I have than the perennial rituals and practices of modern American culture. That being said, I have recently been given the opportunity to re-think what I am doing and re-prioritize the ways in which I structure the flow of my own daily effort

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Your Pastor Should Be Worried About Numbers

Your Pastor Should Be Worried About Numbers

Just about anyone involved in youth ministry has had the discussion about the importance of numbers in evaluating our efforts. Like a teacher, we can claim that much of the fruit of our labors will not be visible until many years later. We can also spend time talking about how many of the results that we are striving for will take time and that some of the programs we lead may not produce immediate results, but they have their place. The reality is that a pastor, finance council, and parish

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

The Cure for the Retreat High

The Cure for the Retreat High

One of the most common struggles that I hear about from youth (and that I have experienced many times myself) is the after-effect of what is known as a retreat “high.” If you have never heard of it before, the retreat high is that time during and shortly after a retreat when someone is experiencing a great consolation in their faith. It’s known as a retreat high because not long afterward, they are hit with a great struggle in staying motivated in their faith (a “low”). Time after time when

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Ten Common Mistakes Discipleship Leaders Make

Ten Common Mistakes Discipleship Leaders Make

In the work that I do, I get the opportunity to hear about many different ways in which discipleship is being approached, especially in small group or one-on-one settings. One of my priorities in learning more about effective discipleship is talking with those who are actually participants in it. I get to hear about so many blessings and graces that are flowing through these initiatives, but I also come across many individuals who are frustrated because what they have been told is supposed to ha

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

My Recent Experience and Invitation to Go Deeper With Christ

My Recent Experience and Invitation to Go Deeper With Christ

God has been doing some awesome things in my life.  For the past few weeks, I have been in a place where I’ve truly felt as though I am walking with God every moment of my day.  It has been a time of great consolation and peace that I pray never fades.   I decided to go to Confession even though I wasn’t sure if I had anything to confess (this rarely happens).  The first thing I did was pick up a copy of the examination of conscience at the entrance of the Church.  I don’t even like the one

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

10 Youth You May Not Be Reaching and How You Can

10 Youth You May Not Be Reaching and How You Can

One of the things that I find myself doing frequently is looking at the youth in our parish and around our community and wondering what I can do- or really, what the Church might be able to do- in order to help them to know Jesus Christ if they do not know him already. For those who do, I wonder if they are engaged in growing and developing that relationship. It reminds me of a video produced by Dan Cathy from Chic-Fil-A entitled Every Life Has a Story. Recently, we have featured a couple o

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

A Unique Method of Engaging Parents in Youth Ministry – Part 2

A Unique Method of Engaging Parents in Youth Ministry – Part 2

As promised in my post last week, I want to share with you how Discipleship Focused Youth Ministry is impacting the way in which parents are engaged in youth ministry. By getting parents and other adults involved in a way that requires them to act as the youth ministers (actually planning and leading the formation opportunities for the youth), it brings about a deeper understanding of what youth ministry is and what is needed to connect with and build up young disciples in our church today.

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

A Unique Method of Engaging Parents in Youth Ministry

A Unique Method of Engaging Parents in Youth Ministry

One of the most frequent topics of conversation at youth ministry meetings and conferences is how can we better engage parents in youth ministry. I’ve written about this before on the blog, especially in the post Stop Helping Youth and Start Helping Parents. One goal of Discipleship Focused Youth Ministry is not so directly focused on helping the youth, but more about helping those who help youth. I would argue that it’s not the youth minister’s job to minister to the youth but that it’s the ent

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

The Five Levels of Delegation for a Discipleship Leader

The Five Levels of Delegation for a Discipleship Leader

One of the most common struggles parish leaders seem to have with discipleship involves trusting in the competence of their adults to truly lead the discipleship groups. This is one reason why I recommend that the actual “program” taking place in the parish be focused on forming, mentoring, and guiding adults to be disciple-makers. Such a program develops these leaders to have a missionary heart, which then naturally leads them to service in discipleship, youth groups, small discipleship groups,

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Deliberate “Practice Makes Perfect” Youth Ministers

Deliberate “Practice Makes Perfect” Youth Ministers

One of my biggest frustrations with the way that youth ministry is done in the Church today is how it approaches the parents of the youth in the ministry. All too often, the language used focuses on getting parents involved in what we are doing rather than us helping the parents with what they are doing. I wrote a little about this in Stop Helping Youth and Start Helping Parents. One of the most emphasized aspects of Discipleship Focused Youth Ministry is that instead of having one youth mi

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

New Evangelization = The Courage to Forge New Paths

New Evangelization = The Courage to Forge New Paths

What is the New Evangelization? For the first time in the history of the Church, we are in a situation where entire countries and civilizations that once claimed to be Christian no longer do. They accepted the Gospel and even strived to live Christian moral values for some time but have since rejected those values. We can see evidence of this in many ways that suggest we are not far from this situation in the United States. The New Evangelization is the Church calling us to understand that

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Diving Into The Earmarks: Accountability to Life Change

Diving Into The Earmarks: Accountability to Life Change

I truly believe that one of the greatest struggles we have in youth ministry today is the fear to look at things for what they truly are. I remember sitting in a meeting with several youth leaders, and we were taking a guess at the percentage of youth who leave our programs and continue to live out the faith in college. The consensus in the room was about 5%-10%. Unfortunately, the conversation did not progress towards a discussion on what could be done better; instead it focused on all of the o

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

______________ is Not the Magic Pill

______________ is Not the Magic Pill

“What do you think about Alpha?” This is a question I was asked by four different people over the course of three days while I was speaking at a series of diocesan events covering the fundamentals and practice of Discipleship Focused Youth Ministry. In the past two years, I have probably been asked or heard the question asked “What do you think of Chosen?” over 50 times. I won’t even attempt to count the number of times I’ve been asked about Decision Point. My opinion of these programs

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

4 Ideas for Kicking Off This School Year the Right Way

4 Ideas for Kicking Off This School Year the Right Way

Getting back into the school year is always exciting for me. While I enjoy the summer months very much, I look forward to the routine that comes with the school year. Since moving to a more Discipleship Focused Youth Ministry approach, summer has always been sort of a wildcard. Some groups continue to meet regularly during those months; others hardly meet at all. Some youth have experiences that have helped them grow in their faith; others may have taken a few steps backward in their spiritual d

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Diving Into the Earmarks – Customization

Diving Into the Earmarks – Customization

One of the most powerful aspects of Discipleship Focused Youth Ministry that truly sets it apart from other approaches is the call for a customized plan for each and every student. When I led a youth group, I remember the constant tension between boring those who wanted to go deeper with too many games and doing less games but losing those who were not yet interested in more. Having one option or one program for the youth in a parish is like taking a football team and making them all spend an en

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

5 Ideas for When You Didn’t Plan for Small Group

5 Ideas for When You Didn’t Plan for Small Group

I am praying that this doesn’t become my most read blog on the site (totally kidding…except not really). It happens to the best of us. The week flies by, you forget your group is meeting tomorrow, and you need ideas that require little preparation but will still be engaging for your group. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Here are five ideas you can use today. Study This Week’s Gospel Spend your meeting reading through the upcoming readings for Sunday Mass or diving into the rea

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

7 Realities That Summer Will Bring For Your Discipleship Group

7 Realities That Summer Will Bring For Your Discipleship Group

No, I don’t recommend that you take the summer off from your discipleship group. The reason is because discipleship is not just about meeting in a group; it’s about taking on and sharing the responsibility of forming another person, which is not a nine-month commitment. I think the best approach to the summer months is to accept that discipleship will just look different than it does during the school year. Summer makes things a bit more difficult, but it also offers opportunities for things tha

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

10 Ways a Parish Discipleship Coordinator Can Find Mentorship

10 Ways a Parish Discipleship Coordinator Can Find Mentorship

In ministry, we usually focus on helping others grow in discipleship, but lets face it: it can be very difficult for a youth leader to find good mentorship for him or herself. Naturally, it would seem that the Diocesan Director is the one who should be mentoring and forming parish youth coordinators, but the reality is that many times they have 10 other hats they are wearing, or their roles are more of authority and program coordination than mentorship. Plus, there are likely more parish youth l

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Diving Into The Earmarks: Mutual Responsibility

Diving Into The Earmarks: Mutual Responsibility

Have you ever wondered why fitness center memberships can be so expensive or why they require you to have a certain length of contract? Many fitness centers would actually say that charging a higher rate and expecting a commitment from their customers will actually make the customers happier. People use their services because they have a strong desire to be healthy, which motivates them to seek help. Therefore, they are actually helping customers follow through with their resolutions and achieve

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher





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