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About this blog

Eric Gallagher began the Discipleship Focused Youth Ministry blog in 2013.  Discipleship Focused Youth Ministry is the belief that while there is so much we can do as pastoral leaders in the church, our "strategy" at the parish or diocesan level is make the efforts of discipleship a priority.  The fruit of intentional discipleship is what becomes the means of a more wide spread effort of evangelization.  

If you like this blog, Eric co-authored a book with Jim Beckman that you should definitely check out!

Purchase the book here.

Discipleship Focused Youth Ministry Book

Entries in this blog

The Difference Between Discipleship and Discipleship

The Difference Between Discipleship and Discipleship

The other day, I was having a conversation with a parish youth leader about discipleship, and I started mentioning some of the basic fundamentals of discipleship (i.e. meeting youth where they are, in small groups, in an atmosphere that helps them grow deeper). Before too long, they responded with “that sounds a lot like what Father is doing.” I hear this kind of response often, but usually after we begin to dig in to what I mean when I say “discipleship,” we find that what “Father is doing” is

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Are Paul, Barnabas and Timothy ALL in Your Small Group?

Are Paul, Barnabas and Timothy ALL in Your Small Group?

I often get asked why I believe small group discipleship is the ideal way to cultivate discipleship in a parish. It is important to remember that we must be less concerned about the “how” we do discipleship and more concerned about what is needed in order for discipleship to be happening with the youth that we are working with. In Scripture we can find a few examples of how the disciples grew as disciples and were influenced and supported in their efforts in going to make more disciples. I reall

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Who is Supposed to Disciple Me?

Who is Supposed to Disciple Me?

When I first started diving in to discipleship, I remember a conversation I had with a priest friend of mine. We were discussing how everyone should be “discipled” and what that looks like. The question that the priest asked me, though, was “who is supposed to disciple me (the priest)?” One thing I have found to be very common in places where discipleship is active is that people feel this “need” to be discipled by another person. I thought it would be good to start my new blog by giving a

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Discipleship – Preparing for the “Game”

Discipleship – Preparing for the “Game”

One of the biggest struggles I am finding in leading a discipleship group is that I have a group of young men that I know want to go deeper, but it seems like I never have the time or when I do attempt to ask the deeper questions, they are not prepared to answer them. In the last couple of weeks it has been helpful to me to view our group meetings like a huddle in a football game. I don’t have much time, we have a game to play, and everyone should leave knowing not only what they are going to do

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

7 Tips I Learned From The Mega Church About Ministry

7 Tips I Learned From The Mega Church About Ministry

A couple years ago I had the opportunity to visit a service at one of the mega Church’s in our town.  A couple of friends joined my wife and I as we just went to see what the big deal was.  It was a great experience and an incredible blessing to see what is in place in their church to recruit, entertain, and educate their visitors. I want to start by ensuring that this was not a visit because I am “searching” for another church to attend or that I have doubts about my Catholic faith.  I hav

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Should We Be Training or Forming Our Leaders?

Should We Be Training or Forming Our Leaders?

For the past 10-15 years, I’ve been watching the evolution of youth ministry. During that time, people have been searching for the right resource that is going to respond to the needs of young people. Today, we have top notch resources that can be used in just about any setting, for any sized group of people, with the best speakers in the world, and some of the best production available. Still…there seems to be a desire or an understanding that we can do even better. Over the past five year

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Evangelization – Where Are We Going Wrong?

Evangelization – Where Are We Going Wrong?

For some time now, I’ve been trying to put my finger on the “missing piece” in our current efforts at evangelization. I’ve written a post about how evangelization shouldn’t be so hard and shared my experience of watching evangelization happen through people not necessarily because THEY did something extreme. It’s not hard to find writings and inspiration encouraging the Church to evangelize. It’s also not hard to find writings describing how different individuals or groups evangelize. The proble

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

A CRAZY Youth Ministry Proposal

A CRAZY Youth Ministry Proposal

A couple of years ago, I spoke with a mom in a local parish who was interested in leading a small discipleship group. She was excited because the parish was encouraging discipleship groups to begin as naturally as possible, so she immediately saw her daughter, her daughter’s friends, and a couple other youth as a great group to lead. This mom asked a friend to lead the group with her, and they began meeting in the fall. About two months into leading the group, the pastor caught wind that th

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

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

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

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

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Are Youth Leaders Ready to Think Outside of Programs?

Are Youth Leaders Ready to Think Outside of Programs?

When I was in high school, we had one “program” in our parish for youth: Religious Education. I was placed in a class based on my age and was run through a system that had been going long before I was ever even alive. I’m grateful for all of the adults who over the years were involved in teaching me the faith through this program, but looking back, it really wasn’t what sparked my deeper commitment to the faith. A missionary who I recently interviewed described her parish programming and the eff

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

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

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

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

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

How I Have Seen Discipleship Changing the Church

How I Have Seen Discipleship Changing the Church

I have been assisting parishes in moving towards a discipleship focused youth ministry approach for the last four years. It was really what I was seeing happen with FOCUS on our university campuses that first got my attention, and DFYM was the result. As it has taken shape, I have drawn a lot from FOCUS, dived deep into the teachings of the Church on Evangelization and Catechesis, and even taken graduate courses on discipleship. Much of what I have learned through experience has been reproduced

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

Youth Group Leader, Youth Minister, or Coordinator of Youth Ministry?

Youth Group Leader, Youth Minister, or Coordinator of Youth Ministry?

This question – are you a Youth Group Leader, a Youth Minister, or a Coordinator of Youth Ministry? – has been one of the most important questions I have found myself asking parish staff and pastors. A person’s title lays the foundation for how a they (as well as others around them) think about their role in the parish,what their responsibilities truly are, and how they go about carrying them out. Before I get into the specific distinctions, though, and what implications this has for youth minis

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

The Problem With Putting Youth in Leadership

The Problem With Putting Youth in Leadership

One of the most common scenarios I observe in youth ministry today (and one that I have been guilty of fostering as well) happens when a youth encounters Christ at a retreat, comes back excited about their experience, and the youth minister or DRE feels the need to put them in some form of leadership position. In these same circumstances, however, I often find that when a youth comes home excited about their experience at a camp or retreat, their parents peg it as “temporary” and don’t get

Eric Gallagher

Eric Gallagher

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





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