Youth ministry expert says teens are on the front lines of the culture wars

Bob Rice knows teens. The long time youth minister and professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville has been on the cutting edge of ministering to Catholic teens for years and recently said told a conference of youth ministers and catechists that, "The devil has decided to make youth his number one priority.”

Rice, who is also a popular speaker and musician spoke to some 300 religious educators at Franciscan University’s St. John Bosco conference on July 20th - 24th warning that countless teens are caught in the “culture of death.”

Noting that the average teen spends at least 6-8 hours a day interacting with T.V., radio, or the internet, all of which are under scrutiny for what many call depleting moral standards, he told the educators that "Youth ministry must be primarily evangelistic because the Church herself is primarily evangelistic."

He added, according to the University, that “85 percent of teens reject the idea of absolute truth; 50 percent of teens who attend Church weekly have no moral objection to cohabitation; 25 percent use drugs; and 50 percent consume alcohol.”

He encouraged the conference attendees to seek out what is good in youth culture and try to use it for evangelization. "Music drives teen culture," he said. "We have to find what is good and positive in their culture and lift it up."

He also stressed however, that the most important tool catechists can use are the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Bible.

Rice noted that a youth minister’s personal sanctification is key in successful ministry. "Youth ministers must keep a relationship with God, first and foremost, and invest in their own prayer lives and spirituality," he said, adding that they need divine assistance from prayer and the sacraments.

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