"Are occasional youth ministry events really worth it? Conferences and work camps are kind of expensive and to tell you the truth, my teen’s so busy that a little free time is the only time to catch up."

In a national survey last November, 2,000 actively Catholic high school youth were asked to identify what had significantly influenced their faith. We found out that events like retreats, youth conferences, service experiences, guest speakers, etc., had a very strong influence on the faith development of these kids. In fact, the young people reported that experiences like these had as much influence as religious upbringing as a child, participation in the prayer life of the Church.

Bottom line, do not underestimate the power of participation in these stand-alone events. If the school year is too crowded, invest in a summer experience. A lot of youth ministry of outstanding youth ministry is taking place in the summer. I’ve spent the last five summers participating and observing some of these events. Seeing them live and knowing the data we now have from Catholic teens, I wish I had found a way to send my own three kids to any of these summer experiences.