What is Ablaze Connect?

Ablaze Connect is a youth ministry accompaniment experience where experts in mission to youth connect with a parish’s heart for young people.

Why is Ablaze Connect Important?

St. Mary’s Press’ 2018 study, ‘Going, Going, Gone: The Dynamics of Catholic Disaffiliation,’ uncovered that of those who leave the Church by age 23, the median age of this disaffiliation is 13 years old. Since this study has taken place, a worldwide pandemic has further isolated many from their faith.
Parishes looking to seek and serve young people are often faced with the challenges of well-meaning volunteers who have never built, maintained, or grown a thriving mission to youth. Often, these bursts of programming are short lived, leaving parishes hungering for dynamic youth engagement and asking the question, “what can we do to connect with our youth?”

Through a launch, weekly coaching, and team accompaniment, Ablaze Connect
empowers parishes to build a vision for young people, grow and develop a team, and ultimately create a process for discipleship among youth to thrive.

Ablaze Connect Success Path

  1. BUILD A VISION – Ablaze Connect will work with the Parish Leadership team to understand their desire for the youth of the parish. Together, a clearly defined vision and a plan for cascading that vision will be created and shared with the stakeholders, which consists of parents, pastoral and finance councils, and parishioners. The vision should include a clearly defined problem or an opportunity that is sought to be overcome and should be both aspirational and achievable. The vision should ask how it all relies on the Lord, where the spiritual care comes from, and what the pastor’s involvement is.
  2. BUILD A TEAM – After creating and sharing the vision, the next step will involve building a ministry team through volunteer recruitment. The pastor should discern and invite a few key players to join the team during the launch phase and one of these people should be designated as the leader. The leader should have the skills to be the organizer of a group. While choosing a leader, it is important to keep in mind that, often, the best person at relational ministry is different from the best person at organizational
    leadership. The team should regularly meet and be formed, while the leader also attends weekly meetings with Ablaze Connect to continue building a platform of success for the volunteers. Spiritual Care & Evangelization of that team is prioritized to answer the question, ”‘how do we make that team a team of disciple-makers?”
  3. BUILD AN OPPORTUNITY FOR ACCOMPANIMENT -This is the step that most people want to jump to: when teens are coming to events on a weekly basis, like a youth night. After a formed team is in place with a clear leader, the youth night will become the focus. Ablaze Connect will work
    with the leader and the team to create weekly opportunities for the youth to be welcomed, known, and loved through the team and the sharing of the Gospel (the Kerygma).
    The youth nights should be complemented by outreach moments where the leaders attend school events and meet the teens where they’re at in order to share God’s love.
  4. BUILD A YOUTH PROGRAM – Once relational authority is established with the teens and their families, ministry opportunities with a focus on plug-in events, like Diocesan conferences, rallies, and camps, should be considered. These events will require logistical planning on behalf of the ministry team and allow full-time accompanying of the youth during these experiences. Fundraisers, parish engagement from the youth program, and other events outside of the youth night should also be incorporated based on leadership bandwidth and teen desires.
  5. BUILD DISCIPLES – At this phase, leaders will begin to notice that some of the youth are exhibiting a hunger for something deeper. These youth can be engaged in discipleship activities, which can include 1:1 meetings to help the youth grow in their prayer life and lived faith practice, going into deeper sessions, discipleship groups, or leadership opportunities in the youth program and the parish. While all are welcome to participate in these types of activities, young people showing the desire for deeper discipleship should be explicitly invited into these opportunities.

Interested in bringing Ablaze Connect to your parish or diocese?

Contact Chris Bartlett at [email protected] for more information.