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  • 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
    • 464 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
    • 522 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
    • 305 views
  • 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
    • 294 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
    • 765 views
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

Stop Helping Youth and Start Helping Parents

Stop Helping Youth and Start Helping Parents

For about the first ten years that I was involved in youth ministry, I remember asking some of the same questions I see many asking today… It wasn’t until the last few years that the questions I was asking started to shift. I started really focusing on how much responsibility I should be taking on for the formation of the youth. Besides, it seemed like no matter what I was doing, it was still a gamble as to whether or not each youth involved in my programs was going to continue living the

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Down With Youth Groups…Continued

Down With Youth Groups…Continued

Back in 2011, I wrote a blog article titled Down With Youth Groups. I recently did a little research into the popularity of my past posts, and that article has been by far the most read of all I have written in the past seven years of blogging. I remember immediately after publishing that post receiving several emails and messages asking me for more insight on starting to work outside of the youth group model. To be blunt, I’m not sure what advice I gave at the time, but with this new focus on D

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Diving Into The Earmarks: Intimacy

Diving Into The Earmarks: Intimacy

If you’ve spent some time on this site, you know that the Four Earmarks of Discipleship are qualities or characteristics that help us understand what discipleship looks like and evaluate its effectiveness. Discipleship is a way of teaching and forming another person. All too often, we in the Church approach the task of formation like we should just be able to instruct on something and others will automatically do it. The reality is that we live in a culture that is so relativistic and distrustin

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

When Programming in Discipleship is a Good Thing

When Programming in Discipleship is a Good Thing

One of the things I find most difficult in what I do is being able to explain to others how discipleship is not a program. Any programming in your parish, including discipleship groups, should be done in order to foster and build a culture for discipleship. If a program is not helping build up discipleship or draw new youth into discipleship, then I would take time to seriously consider why it even exists. On the other hand, programming is a very important part of building a discipleship focused

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

The Balance Between Too Much Control and Too Much Freedom in Discipleship

The Balance Between Too Much Control and Too Much Freedom in Discipleship

When I was kid, I remember my grandparents having a pendulum clock. I thought it was so cool that I could grab the pendulum to stop it from moving back and forth. When I let it go, it would slowly begin to build up momentum and start swinging again from side to side. This clock often comes to mind when I think about youth ministry and as I address questions regarding safe environment, oversight, etc. On the one hand we want to protect our youth, so we need to have guidelines and boundaries in pl

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

You Can Not Force Discipleship

You Can Not Force Discipleship

Discipleship Focused Youth Ministry is tough because it requires a more natural evolution than simply creating a program and getting people to become involved in it. As the earmark of mutual responsibility implies, discipleship is a two-way street. You need a rabbi (teacher) who is willing to invest themselves in a disciple, and you need a disciple who desires to be like the teacher. The reality is that we cannot force discipleship. In youth ministry, a youth must see something in an adult and d

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

How Youth Ministry May Not Be Much Different Than Prison

How Youth Ministry May Not Be Much Different Than Prison

In the story Shawshank Redemption, there is a character by the name of Brooks Hatlen. Brooks is well-known, well-liked, and has a great gig (relatively speaking) in the prison system. He has been there for so long that it has become his home. To help jog your memory, he is the one who is let out of prison part way through the movie and says, “The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry.” Long story short, he has such a difficult time facing the world when he is released that he ends up han

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Book Review: Rebuilding Youth Ministry

Book Review: Rebuilding Youth Ministry

One of my favorite blogs to follow on Catholic Youth Ministry is written by Christopher Wesley, the director of student ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, Maryland. I was privileged to meet Chris for the first time this last December and learn about his new book which was published on March 9th. Before I talk about the book, I must mention that Ave Maria Press is actually sponsoring a little giveaway of this book through our website.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect wh

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

10 Tips to Consider When Starting a New Discipleship Group

10 Tips to Consider When Starting a New Discipleship Group

So you have been coaxed into invited to lead a discipleship group in your parish.  When a good leader is just getting started with a new group, there can be some very frustrating moments.  Perhaps you have no idea where to begin. Perhaps you have already encountered some obstacles and are thinking to yourself, “I was  promised that this whole discipleship thing was going to be easier and better because I would be working with youth who had a desire to be there and a desire to grow in their faith

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

One Thing that MUST Change in Youth Ministry

One Thing that MUST Change in Youth Ministry

As I continue to deepen my understanding of what discipleship is, I am also growing in my awareness that this approach is significantly different than what I have known of youth ministry in the past. As a youth minister, I was able to do what every youth minister dreams of doing…build a successful youth program. After being in the same parish for seven years, I really believed I had made major progress toward being successful and doing the things a youth minister should do. The one thing that ha

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

When Asking Your Volunteers to Give More Is a Good Thing

When Asking Your Volunteers to Give More Is a Good Thing

One of my favorite testimonies about building a Discipleship Focused Youth Ministry comes from a parish I work with. They have two different discipleship group leaders who, since beginning to lead their group, have had spouses also express interest in joining a group. This is a beautiful sign of fruit being born in the lives of leaders in that parish. The joy and growth that they are experiencing through discipling teens is something that their spouses see and desire as well. It’s not like it’s

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Reaching Beyond the “Default” Youth in Your Ministry?

Reaching Beyond the “Default” Youth in Your Ministry?

Think about the first time you went to an amazing restaurant. After you went, was it your desire to go back alone and just relive the same experience again? I am willing to bet not. Or remember when you started watching that new series on Netflix and you got really excited about it. What was your natural next step? For me, the only thing I want to do is tell my wife and friends about these types of experiences. I want to take them to that restaurant so I can witness their first experience of it.

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Making the Sale – A Three Part Strategy to a Full Commitment in Your Discipleship Group

Making the Sale – A Three Part Strategy to a Full Commitment in Your Discipleship Group

In order for a discipleship group to be a discipleship group, it requires the commitment of a disciple. I think it’s crazy the commitments that things like sports, clubs, and music require of the youth these days. What’s sad is that for some reason, when it comes to seeking a commitment from youth in the Church, we tend to think that “it’s too much to ask” or “they are already too busy.” This is a challenge that, while true, is one that I tend to lean in to more than anything else. I believe tha

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Book Review: Becoming a Parish of Intentional Disciples

Book Review: Becoming a Parish of Intentional Disciples

Back in 2012, a friend introduced me to a book by Sherry Weddell titled Forming Intentional Disciples (FID for short). This book has gone on to become one of the most popular Catholic books on ministry and evangelization in recent years and has sparked conversation on many different levels. Beginning with the ugly truth of where the Church stands in regard to participation and engagement and leading the reader through how one becomes an intentional disciple, the book is a must read for any Catho

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

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