Church movements and groups are great to have. They beautifully create a sense of family, belonging, and identity on those who take part in them. Those who join Church movements and groups tend to appreciate family, belonging, and identity due to the natural bonding borne out of their sharing common ministry efforts. As a result, they are generally inclined towards friendly and heartful relationships with those whom they encounter daily. From the perspectives of history and tradition, Church movements and groups are vital to the building up of the Christian presence in a variety of charismatic communities. In the context of today’s world, Church movements, and groups rightly serve as counter-balance to the overt tendency of stressing individual rights over the importance of family.
Due to societal pressure being constantly fed by individualism and secularism in this day and age, keeping Church movements and groups alive and going might be a challenge. Back in 2005 when I was preparing myself for a leadership role in the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Movement in the United States, I had many opportunities to learn from the experiences of youth ministers and youth directors of different faith traditions from across the country through my participation in various workshops and youth ministry conventions. From these colleagues of mine, I learned of the difficulties often encountered in keeping young people engaged and excited about the activity of a movement or a group. Despite their wholehearted efforts, the participation of youth in many instances did not last for many years. I myself have been able to know a few groups with a-ten-year-or-less existence.
The question that immediately comes to mind for those of us involved in youth ministry is this: How can we keep a group or a movement from being dissolved prematurely? The answer, first of all, points to the need to re-examine the nature, mission, charism, as well as purpose of the group or movement in question. Secondly, has that group or movement moved away or deviated from its original mission, charism or purpose? Thus, the process of self-examination or soul-searching must be conducted in a systemic way to avoid the kind of potential misdirection and eventual going out of existence for the whole group or movement.
Fr. Binh Nguyen, SVD
Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (United States)