Frequently Asked Questions

What is YDisciple?

YDisciple is an online platform designed to empower parents and parish leaders to work together in forming and multiplying small group discipleship for teenagers.

The platform includes:

  • Training videos for parish coordinators and small group leaders
  • More than 70, easily sharable, video sessions featuring some of the best Catholic presenters, such as: Leah Darrow, Chris Stefanick, Fr. Mike Schmitz, Jason and Chrystalina Evert, and more
  • Leader guides with activities and well-crafted discussion questions
  • Parent Guides with summaries of each session and follow-up questions
  • Teen Sheets with helpful reminders from each session
  • Access to the dozens of other videos, e-books, audio talks and more found on FORMED.org.

But more than a product, YDisciple is a process. Subscribers to YDisciple not only get access to high quality resources, but to personal training and support in our trench-tested methodology as well as a supportive community of parish leaders.

What makes YDisciple different?

Youth Ministry doesn’t have to be “one size fits all,” but the constraints of time and resources often limit the ministry’s reach. A small group approach to youth ministry makes it possible to offer quality, customized formation to teenagers without the need to add more programming to the calendar or dramatically increase budget. By equipping several adults in the parish each to reach out to a handful of teens, the parish can minister to more teens more effectively.

YDisciple is scalable. This process allows small parishes with no dedicated youth ministry staff to effectively minister to its teenage population. On the other side of the spectrum, it empowers professional youth leaders in larger parishes to multiply their efforts.

This small group discipleship model also gives teens the flexibility to meet when and where is convenient for them. YDisciple’s streaming online platform even gives them the possibility of customizing the content of their groups so that topics are related to the questions and struggles they have, instead of being handcuffed to a single curriculum.

YDisciple is not a program; it is an apprenticeship in the Christian life.

What is discipleship?

Discipleship is apprenticing someone in the Christian life and helping them develop spiritual disciplines. While Jesus could have reached the masses in His earthly ministry, He chose to devote the majority of His time to twelve men. He knew He needed to personally care for and form a small group of men who would be strong enough to do the same for others. In the end, this approach would multiply disciples and reach the masses. In other words, Jesus’ plan to reach the world was through the multiplication of disciples, which is why He asked us to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19).

Why are small groups important?

Pope Francis states that young people are searching for deep spirituality and belonging but often fail to find responses to their concerns, needs, problems, and hurts in the usual structures. He calls adults to listen patiently to young people, appreciate their concerns, and speak to them in a language they understand (Evangelii Gaudium 105). It is impossible for a single youth minister to effectively reach all the needs of the hundreds of teens in his or her parish boundary. Jesus focused on a small group. Making disciples is very relational and time intensive. There needs to be a strong level of trust, communication, and support in order to create the environment for discipleship. In a small group a teen can feel known, loved, and cared for. A level of confidentiality can be achieved which gives teens the freedom to open up about their struggles and doubts. In a small group there is the greater possibility to catch the things that teens don’t understand and have a discussion. In addition, the small group allows the leader to know their disciples well and thus be able to customize the topics of discussion that best reach those teens.

What role do parents play in YDisciple?

Parents have the responsibility and privilege of evangelizing their children.” —Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2225

“No plan for organized pastoral work, at any level, must ever fail to take into consideration the pastoral care of the family.” — St. John Paul II

Any youth ministry initiative should begin with parents. Outreach to youth through parents is a strategy to meet the needs of as many teens as possible, within the parish boundaries, by empowering parents to build a discipleship group for their own teenager. Parents are connected to other parents through the friendships and activities of their teenagers. A parent-driven strategy leverages these relationships to do outreach. The greatest driver for the multiplication of small groups is parents talking to other parents. YDisciple also provides parents access to all the video content as well as resources for parents to have follow-up conversations at home.

What do you mean by “launching young disciples?”

When teenagers leave home, we have to ask ourselves if they are rooted deeply enough in faith and virtue to withstand the tsunami of temptations they will face. We know that the majority of teenagers stop practicing their faith in their first year of college as the social activity and prevalent worldview that surround them comes in direct contradiction to the faith in which they were raised. But if teenagers have been touched by the love of Jesus and have developed the disciplines to stay close to Him, they can persevere in the faith, with His grace and the power of the Holy Spirit. They are also more likely to be proactive in finding Christ-centered fellowship among their peers.

What are the 5 Needs of Teenagers?

  1. The Need to Be Understood
    The need to be understood is a great psychological need for us as human beings. Unfortunately, the majority of teenagers do not believe that adults understand them. When an adult takes a genuine interest in a teenager and seeks first to understand, that adult earns the right to be heard. If adults want to hand on the faith to teenagers, they must seek first to understand what is going on in their minds and hearts. Teenagers don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.
  2. The Need to Belong
    Teenagers are driven to meet the “need to belong” before higher growth needs like understanding and living the Christian faith. In fact, it is often the case that teenagers will compromise the morals in which they have been raised in order to belong somewhere. If adults don’t help teenagers build healthy, life-giving relationships with one another, then teens will find a way to meet that need themselves. On the other hand, if adults create an environment where teens are known, loved, and cared for, they create an ideal environment for discipleship.
  3. The Need to Be Transparent
    Teenagers rarely have the freedom to be transparent today, especially with one another. It is too dangerous to be vulnerable in a peer-dominated world focused on image and popularity. Teens long for the opportunity to be transparent about their doubts, concerns, fears, insecurities, hopes, and dreams, and to have the confidence of knowing they will not be judged, but loved and supported. In fact, this is necessary in order for them to grow in self-awareness and self-esteem. A small group where trust has been established creates an environment where transparency can take place.
  4. The Need to Engage in Critical Thinking about Faith and Life
    Teens are transitioning from concrete thinking to abstract thinking and are able to conceptualize ideas such as love, justice, fairness, and truth. They are also capable of pondering the big questions in life such as: Is there a God? Do I need religion? Can I know God’s plan for my life? In addition, they are in the process of establishing independence and becoming their own person. Deep down they desire to be treated as adults and no longer want to be told what to do or what to believe. They are critically evaluating what they have been raised to believe and are not that interested in answers to questions they are not asking. Thought-provoking questions, lively discussion, dialogue, and freedom of expression engage teenagers in critical thinking.
  5. The Need for Guidance
    Teenagers need dialogue, collaboration, and friendship with adults in order to become adults themselves. Relationships with adults help them answer deep fundamental questions like: Am I lovable? Am I capable? What difference does my life make? They are naturally idealistic and desire to be challenged to greatness through the direction, encouragement, and support of caring adults. It is a well-known educational principle that young people will rise to the level of our expectations of them. Teenagers will give their lives to Jesus through the witness and encouragement of loving, faith-filled adults.

What topics are covered in the videos?

  • Follow Me: An Introduction to Discipleship
  • True Strength: For Young Men
  • True Beauty: For Young Women
  • Who is God?
  • Who am I?
  • Prayer
  • Sacraments
  • The Church
  • Human Sexuality
  • Pro Life
  • Disciplines of a Disciple
  • Chastity for Young Women
  • Chastity for Young Men
  • The Creed
  • Morality
  • Modern Media
  • Vocations
  • Advent
  • Confirmation
  • Various “Hot Topics”

General Information:

  • Each topic includes 3-5 individual sessions breaking down broad topics
  • Each session is approximate 20-30 minutes of video broken into 5-10 minute segments, pausing to allow for discussion
  • Follows USCCB Framework for Adolescent Catechesis
  • All studies have Nihil Obstat & Imprimatur
  • Approximately 2 years of weekly sessions completed with more to come
  • Content is easily shareable to give parents access to the studies on the platform to foster faith sharing in the home.

What does a YDisciple Small Group look like?

  • 1-2 adult mentors, same gender as the teens, and not a parent of a teen in the group (recommended)
  • 4–8 teens of the same gender
  • Teenagers should be as close in age as possible and preferably friends from the same school
  • Meet 2–4 times a month for approximately 90 minutes

YDisciple advocates for building small groups of teens who already know each other. By starting with teens who are already friends and have common interests, you are able to build upon a foundation of trust already present. This is key to establishing confidentiality, transparency, and accountability. The question is often asked: “Does this strategy encourage cliques?” In fact, the opposite is the case. Cliques form due to the insecurities of teens. Through establishing a close brotherhood and sisterhood, the teens become more secure in who they are.

When and Where do groups meet?

While it is certainly possible for groups to meet and thrive at a set time on the parish’s campus, the online platform opens up a world of possibilities.  We all know that teenagers are busy.  With YDisciple, groups can meet at a time and place that is most convenient to them.  A number of parishes have reported that this flexibility has had an overall result of more teens being able to be and stay involved.
 
Depending on your diocesan Safe Environment policy, we strongly recommend that groups meet in comfortable, offsite environments. It is the ideal that parents of the group members take turns hosting the group in their homes. This gives them the opportunity to get to know the teens and mentors in the group as well as demonstrating to their teen how important this group is to them. 

Can YDisciple be used in a school or classroom?

YDisciple was created as a resource to help facilitate small groups.  While we do not recommend using only the videos outside of the small group context, there are several schools who have had success forming small Discipleship groups within the context of their school community.

Do we need to have a youth minister to start?

A parish does not need to have a youth minister to start YDisciple. Again, YD can start with just 2 adult leaders and a small group of teens. As the number of discipleship groups grows, a parish will likely need to designate a person to coordinate the effort and plan large group events, service opportunities, and retreats that bring the groups together occasionally. However, a youth minister or volunteer coordinator should never replace the parents as the key drivers. It is the responsibility of parents to disciple their teenagers with the parish supporting them in that mission. Parents also play a powerful role in positively influencing their teen’s friends, especially those friends whose parents do not practice any faith. YD aims to empower parents to be missionaries to teenagers within their sphere of influence.

What does a parish coordinator do?

Parish Coordinator assists in recruiting, managing, and supporting parents and mentors. He or she ensures that each small group is set up for success. It is recommended that Parish Coordinators lead a small group themselves so that they can develop an expertise in this model of youth outreach. Once a lead parent has established a small group of teens with mentors, the Parish Coordinator ensures that all mentors go through the online training sessions (five 20-minute videos). They should ensure that all adults go through the diocesan Safe Environment training specific to your diocese. 

After groups are started, it is important that Parish Coordinators follow up with their mentors periodically to encourage them and to offer any support they may need. 

Parish Coordinators also are able to plan large group events (service projects, adoration nights, retreats, etc.) to draw the small groups together as well as engage teens and families who are not yet involved in discipleship.

Is it OK to start with just one group?

YDisciple is not a program; it is a process. The online platform and the start-up process allow a parish to train new leaders and start new groups at any time during the year. It is better to start with a small number of groups with the right leaders and teens. These groups then become the greatest advocates for small group discipleship and naturally recruit their peers. So not only is it OK to start small, we strongly recommend it. Think mustard seed to movement (cf. Mark 4:30-32).

How do I get YDisciple?

Fill out the request form above and we will contact you to answer your questions and get you started.

YDisciple is available on FORMED.org.  FORMED is a revolutionary online platform brought to you by the Augustine Institute featuring the best Catholic videos, audio talks, eBooks and movies from trusted partners like the Augustine Institute, St. Paul Center, Marian Fathers, Lighthouse Catholic Media, Ignatius Press and Word on Fire. Catechism and Personal Faith Formation are at the fingertips of every parishioner.

A parish subscription to FORMED not only gets you access to all the YDisicple resources but also access is then given to every parishioner to some of the best Catholic content available.  Visit FORMED.org today for a free 7-day trial.

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