It’s way more than effective catechesis. It's Catholic middle school youth ministry that helps young people with life's most challenging years.
Middle School. It was hard then.
It’s even harder now.
We all remember that middle school was awkward and difficult. That hasn’t changed. However, societal shifts have made the middle school years more difficult than ever.
Today, middle school youth are having experiences that were common only with high school students just 15 years ago. Threats of violence, availability of drugs and alcohol, and pervasiveness of sex and pornography are the new norm.
Adolescence show physical development, yet they still have cognitive limits in information retention and decision making. Unsteady emotional development leads to impulsive behavior.
Through each year of middle school, young people are in the process of moving from being family-centered to friend-centered. Peers gain greater influence and parental authority is called into question.
As middle school youth develop intellectually, they no longer accept faith simply because it is what their parents believe. They have real questions that need real answers.
If parish leaders ignore the unique challenges of their middle school youth, they risk losing them forever.
Why Edge Works: One ministry. Many fans.
Why Youth Love Edge
- It’s a fun, safe place to spend time with their Catholic friends.
- They get answers to their unanswered questions about their Catholic faith.
- They experience Jesus Christ in a profound, personal way.
- They feel like they are important to everyone else in the parish.
Why Parents Love Edge
- Edge gives middle schoolers a chance to build strong Catholic friendships before they enter high school.
- They are given talking points via email or in a flyer after every Edge night. Now parents can talk the Edge Night further in a conversation on the drive home.
- Their children are given Catholic role models on the Core Team who reinforce what is already being taught within the home. Parents often join the Edge Core Team too.
- Edge understands the physical, psychological, cognitive, relational, and spiritual maturation of middle school youth.
Why Youth Ministers Love Edge
- Edge resources make it easier to plan a school year of Edge Nights, retreats, and Core training. This means less time at the desk and more time reaching out to youth.
- The large group format makes catechesis fun for young people. When they’re having fun, they are more likely to learn.
- Youth who are involved in Edge in middle school are more likely to get involved through all four years of Life Teen in high school.
Why Priests Love Edge
- Edge has a strong focus on the Mass.
- Edge gets youth further involved in the parish community through service projects
- It presents the deposit of faith in a way that youth can understand without sacrificing depth or truth.
- Edge resources help Youth Ministers succeed and make a greater impact on the parish community.
Why Directors of Religious Education Love Edge
- Edge catechetical resources presents Catholic teaching in a way that young people can understand.
- The Edge 6-semester curriculum creates a foundation for the United States Council of Catholic Bishops’ Framework for high school catechesis.
944 Catholic parishes in 10 countries have an Edge ministry for their middle school youth.
Five Components of Edge at Your Parish
The Eucharist is central to the faith of all Catholics. Especially middle schoolers.
In the Life Teen model, a youth-focused Mass is a powerful liturgy that is geared to our high school teens. Contemporary liturgical music, homilies geared toward young people, and a welcoming hospitality are important parts of the Sunday night liturgy. Teens may be given small roles to help minister at the Mass, but the goal is to provide a warm and welcoming environment for the teens to experience the mystery of the Mass.
If your parish has a section for high school teens and Life Teen Core Team to sit, have a section for middle school youth and their families. If there is a Saturday evening Mass at your parish, set aside one Saturday a month to invite Edge youth and their families. Allow the middle school youth to serve at Mass with extra guidance and support.
Fostering good participation during the Mass while the youth are in middle school will help them to establish good habits of full, active, and conscious participation in the Mass.
A parish that provides solid, systematic catechesis during the middle school years lays a foundation for their high school formation and beyond.
Meeting once a week helps provide consistency and the ability to connect the faith lessons presented at each Edge Night. Monday nights are a great night to meet because the parish facilities are cleared from Sunday Night’s Life Teen events. Mondays are also good because there are fewer extracurricular activities on Monday nights, the youth have not been given a ton of homework and most tests are planned for later in the week. However, if Monday does not work for your parish, use another night of the week.
Edge is divided into three semesters: fall, spring, and summer. The fall and spring semester would be the time to use the systematic approach to catechesis with your youth. Edge resources are published in a 6-semester format: Scripture, Creed, Church, Sacraments, Prayer, and Social Justice. During the three years that a middle school youth attends Edge Nights he/she will gain a great foundation of the faith.
In addition to the catechetical Edge Nights, we also offer Issue Nights based on issues that affect middle school youth. Edge Nights give youth a safe place to learn and explore what the Church teaches about topics such as: popularity, gossip, divorce, peer pressure, apathy, stress, temptation, abortion, chastity, euthanasia, poverty, materialism, self-image, drugs and alcohol, virtues, and modern and relevant topics that deal with technology and social networking web sites.
A great component to a successful Edge ministry is the use of Social Nights. These nights are designed to create a greater sense of community among our middle school youth and for them to have fun in a church setting. Do not underestimate the value of your social nights. They may take extra work, but middle school youth need the time and place to have fun with friends and get to know their Core Members through relational ministry. Find out what your youth enjoy and do it together as a community. Be sure to check all diocesan policies for any and all activities, especially those away from the church grounds.
Here are a couple of ways to schedule a mix of Edge Nights based on meeting four times a month:
- Week 1: Edge Night – Catechetical
- Week 2: Edge Night – Catechetical
- Week 3: Edge Night – Issue
- Week 4: Edge Night – Social
- Week 1: Edge Night – Catechetical
- Week 2: Edge Night – Catechetical
- Week 3: Edge Night – Catechetical
- Week 4: Edge Night – Alternate Issue/Social
Retreats are an opportunity for youth to get away from their everyday distractions and issues and to focus and concentrate on deepening their relationship with Jesus.
Having the youth overnight or over the weekend allows for faith and prayer experiences that may not normally occur at an Edge Night. On retreat, the youth experience various types of activities, sessions/ talks, witnesses, and prayer experiences in a safe and comfortable environment.
Some middle school youth ministers enjoy doing their retreat near the beginning of the fall semester around October. Typically most high school teens are busy with fall sports, allowing the focus to be on the middle school youth retreat. Having the retreat in October gives them a faith experience they can bring with them to Edge Nights. Retreats also provide a great opportunity for the youth to bond with the Core Team, the youth minister, and other youth in the Edge ministry at your parish. Other youth ministers prefer providing a retreat in the spring semester. In the spring, the youth have had some formation and can go on retreat to better connect their faith and their actions.
Once a year, a weekend retreat is published with your Edge Support box. The retreat is based on a theme and contains the schedule, talk outlines, skits and more to put on a successful and Spirit-led retreat.
Edge retreats are adaptable to your parish needs as well. Retreats can be done on Church grounds as a one-day retreat, or away from the Church at an appropriate retreat facility for a two-day/one-night retreat or a full weekend retreat. Middle school parents may need extra reassurance if this is their child’s first time away from home for an extended period of time. Invite these parents to be on your retreat team to help them see the benefits of taking middle school youth on retreat.
Youth need to know that they can make a difference today. Service activities and projects are an excellent way for youth help others and build up the Body of Christ.
The intent of this middle school ministry component is to sow the seeds of Christian service early in an individual’s life. By assisting the early adolescent to make a lifelong commitment to service, they become compassionate towards others, especially the poor and marginalized. Being of assistance to others gives early adolescents the opportunity to put their faith into practice. The experiential opportunity of aid to the less fortunate allows the middle schooler to see how blessed they are by God. Christian service assists the preadolescent to feel good about him/herself. This is especially useful in light of the psychological and physical changes that are wreaking havoc with their self-esteem.
It is important for middle school youngsters to experience diverse age appropriate activities. Service projects can take place at different social service agencies throughout an area located near the parish.
One idea is to have each small group (the small group from Edge Night along with their Core team members and parents) participate in a service project each semester (two per year). Then the overall Edge program coordinates a few large service project endeavors, for example, collecting blankets and socks for a homeless shelter, diapers and children’s clothing for a shelter for abused mothers, or cans of food for a local soup kitchen.
The parent component of Edge is designed to assist parents in raising their middle schooler.
On selected evenings, material being presented to the kids at Edge could be offered to their parents in an adult forum. This gives parents and youngsters the opportunity to experience the same material while relating to it on their own level. On the ride home from Edge Night, parents and their children can discuss what went on in their session instead of listening to the radio! If space is an issue at your parish, the parent’s component could be done on another suitable evening.
During parts of your Edge year, your parish can offer parents educational sessions on middle school psychology, personality development, physical development, and issues affecting preadolescents Monday nights while their kids are meeting at Edge.
Core Team The Heartbeat of Your Edge Ministry
We believe catechesis goes further when your youth group leaders are involved in the lives of the youth. Some people call them mentors, we call them the Core Team. At Edge, your Core Team will be empowered to interact with youth and build safe, Christ-centered friendships.
Understanding the Core Team
Working with middle school youth has its challenges, but they are an amazing group. They are at the age to begin having deeper discussions and they want to explore their faith.
Committed Core Members can make the difference in the lives of your middle school youth. The Edge Core Team serves as mentor, minister, teacher and spiritual director for these young middle school students. What middle school youth experience from the time they arrive until they leave is relational ministry. Core Team is not about preparing a lesson, it is about caring for each middle school youth we meet. Core Team uses relational ministry to understand where the youth are at and calls them to a deeper faith.
What does a Core Team do?
Lead Edge Nights. In a typical classroom model, the catechist is responsible for developing a 90-minute lesson for his/her class. Edge Nights are pre-written so that the Core Team shares in the responsibility of the session. Core Members can volunteer to lead an opening prayer, give a talk/witness, share the Scripture Proclamation or give a Summary Challenge at the end of the night. Because the various components of the Edge Night are shared, this allows the Core Team to be present to the middle school youth through relational ministry and during small group time.
Lead Small Groups. In teams of two or three, Edge Core Members lead their small group’s discussions and activities during Edge Nights. The Core Team is given a copy of the Edge outline ahead of time to study and prepare for an Edge Night and their small group. Edge Core Members remain with the same group of middle school youth throughout the entire year. This allows the Core Team and middle school youth the opportunity to develop strong, meaningful relationships. The Core Team also volunteers to lead prayer, read Scripture, perform skits, give witness/catechetical talks, and help lead other important tasks throughout an Edge Night.
Lead Retreats. Of course, the Core Team also help lead Edge retreats. They take responsibilities for leading sessions, organizing activities, preparing meals, and other logistical tasks.
Who joins a Core Team?
Edge Core Team consists of parents, adults, young adults and high school teens that gather every week to spiritually assist the middle school youth at an Edge Night.
Parents are a great resource to ask to join the Core Team. As parents are the primary catechists of their children, having them part of the Edge Core Team helps them to take an active role in their child’s Catholic formation. As a general rule, do not put a middle school youth in the same small group as his/her parent. Youth desire independence. Parents can be present while giving their youth some space.
Other adults from the parish can be recruited to serve on the Edge Core Team. Perhaps there are married couples that would like to serve as a small group team. Adults want to help; they simply need to be asked. Be sure to invite a balance of men and women to be spiritual mentors and Core Members for your Edge ministry.
Young adults are a great resource for your Core Team. They are young and enthusiastic about their faith. Pairing them with an experienced Core Member can help balance the small group with experience and enthusiasm.
Juniors and seniors in high school that have been active in Life Teen can serve as leaders for the Edge. Teens love helping with skits, sharing their witness and serving as role models for youth. In turn, the teenagers benefit because they too learn the lesson during an Edge Night. Teenagers need extra training and support, but their presence is valuable your Edge program.
What is expected of your Core Team?
A Core Team is more than a group of volunteers. They’re drawing youth into a relationship with Christ.
- Pray and participate in the life of the Church by attending Mass every Sunday, going to daily Mass when possible, going to Reconciliation/Confession regularly and other forms of prayer.
- Live their life as a committed Catholic Christian.
- Teach the truths (faiths and precepts) of the Catholic Church.
- Share Christ who dwells in them with the middle school youth.
- Welcome the middle school youth to the Edge every week.
- Lead small group discussions and activities.
- Encourage, understand, mentor, and accepting the middle school youth.
- Sit with, talk to, interact with, listen to and reach out to the middle school youth.
- Challenge the middle school youth to strengthen their faith commitment.
- Assist with witness talks, catechetical instruction and large group discussion.
- Discipline when necessary.
- Create a Christian environment and setting at an Edge Night.
- Attend retreats, in-service trainings and Core Team meetings.
- Act as a liaison from the Edge to the parents.
Safe Environments in Edge
Every Catholic parish goes to great lengths to insure that the youth of their parish are lead by adults with the best intentions. Most dioceses have a process that includes the following:
- Complete application for working with youth
- Criminal background check
- Letters of recommendation
In addition to these items, every candidate to join the Edge Core Team must be first interviewed by the Edge minister and other parish leaders. Download and read our recommended list of interview questions. This interview ensures that everyone on Core is actively living out their Catholic faith.
Finally, dioceses provide Safe Environment Training and Certification. Candidates for Core Team learn myths and facts about sexual abuse and sexual offenders. They learn detailed warning signs to watch for in adults who may abuse, and how to identify children who may have been abused. Candidates for Core Team are given guidelines for interaction, monitoring, training and responding. To keep ministries safe, standards must be met in parishes, schools, youth events--anywhere there are children.
Get help. Get Edge Support. Middle school was scary the first time. It doesn’t have to be bad the second time.
Spend less time at your desk and more time with teenagers. We give Edge youth ministers, music ministers, and priests the planning resources they need run an effective comprehensive Edge ministry.
If not planned properly, a parish’s Edge retreats, service projects, and social events can be expensive. Our event planning resources help you make smart choices when organizing events so they can be both effective and affordable.
Our resources help Edge youth ministers develop a comprehensive strategy for planning a school year. Catechesis, social events, service projects, retreats–they’re all integrated. Plus we help you plan for Core Team retreats and training.
Have peace of mind knowing that our resources are faithful to the Magisterium. We love the Gospel, the Sacraments, and Church teachings! Our Edge resources is fully referenced with Scripture, the Catechism, Encyclicals, and sound doctrine from our great saints.
Edge Support: It's more than a box of resources.
We ship a boxes of happiness, our Edge Support box, three times a year: March, August, November. They come packed with great resources and fun items to help your middle school ministry grow. But when you sign up for Edge Support, the fun doesn't stop with the box. Every yearly subscription includes unlimited online access to our archive of Edge Nights on CatholicYouthMinistry.com and access to Edge videos on our new media website, LifeTeen.com/Media.
Best of all, you've got a veteran team of youth ministers waiting to help you. Our Parish Outreach team is compresised of regional directors staffed by Life Teen and area contacts in your own local regions that are here to support you any way you need.
- Edge Nights for one semester within our three-year Edge curriculum. Plus get access to our massive online archive of Edge Nights.
- DVD Resource with videos and loops, plus you can download or stream original Edge videos online. NEW!
- Amplify magazine is filled with Edge Nights and articles highlighting current issues and trends in with middle school youth. NEW!
- Edge Retreats / Lock-ins Guides are included once a year to help plan life-changing retreats for your youth.
- Core Retreats Guide are included once year to host a weekend of spiritual renewal for your Core.
Standard Edge Support3 shipments of Edge Support
Online Access to Resources
Phone + Email Support$500
Combo Edge Support
& Life Support3 shipments of Edge Support
3 shipments of Life Support
Online Access to Resources
Phone + Email Support$1200
Premium Edge Support
& Life SupportAll 6 Resorce Shipments
Online Access to Resources
Phone + Email Support
$100 Credit to LifeTeen.com/Store
One Credit to Training Event$1600
We love talking with you!
Don't hesitate to call our Parish Outreach Team at 800-809-3902 to sign up for Edge Support.