Unlike the other components, Advocacy is not something that you do with young people, as much as it is something you do for young people. Your job is to constantly speak for the young people of the parish, and to challenge other adults in the parish to be involved in the lives of young people. You are the Director  of Youth Ministry, and in turn, you can teach the rest of the adults in the parish to be “youth ministers.”

Here are 10 concrete ways that you can be an advocate for young people in your parish:

  1. Start an intercessory prayer team. Gather adults together regularly to pray for the young people of the parish, the needs of young people, and for the youth ministry program.
  2. If there is a parish council, be sure that you are on it, or somebody that understands youth ministry is on it. Work to change programs, policies, or procedures which create or play a part in the social problems that the young people face.
  3. Train and empower young people to become fully involved in the parish. Set young people up for success by equipping them with resources, providing balanced guidance, and allowing them to have ownership of projects and programs. An empowered young person can accomplish more than they imagined possible.
  4. Occasionally attend meetings of other groups in the parish, and challenge them on how they are including the young people in their activities.
  5. Involve as many adults as possible in some aspect of your ministry. Include men and women, priests and sisters, single and married, from all age groups and nationalities.
  6. Create a “Vision of Youth Ministry” for your parish, and make sure that everybody in the parish sees it and hears it. Bulletin inserts or letters to the parish work nicely to this effect.
  7. Be an advocate for Parents. Design your programs to be family-based as often as possible.
  8. Be an advocate for adult education in the parish. The better the adults and parents understand their faith, the more they will naturally share it with young people. Educate adults about what youth ministry is, and what it is not. Teach them to all be “youth ministers.” Encourage DRE's, scout leaders, priests, coaches, and others to attend youth ministry training, conferences, etc…
  9. Place a bulletin board in a prominent location in the Church to advertise the youth program.
  10. Use language that reinforces these concepts. Never refer to the program as “your program.” Ask that your title be changed to “Coordinator (or Director) of Youth Ministry”.

In order to become a good advocate for young people you must first understand them. What social problems are they facing? What are their strengths and weaknesses? Who are they as individuals? You can then focus the parish program on what it is the young people are facing in their lives. 

The process of advocacy will require of you much faith and patience. Know that the work you partake in as you advocate is a work God has already begun in the hearts of the people He so loves.