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The Joy of Youth Ministry | Unleashed

September 23, 2021

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Marker 5.4 of Unleash the Gospel focuses on the special call of youth and young adults to share the light of the Gospel, and Youth and Young Adult Minister Emily Showler is empowering the disciples she works with to do just that. Tune in for inspirational and joyful stories of the presence of Jesus in the lives of the teens at St. John Newman parish!


I love being a youth minister. I really, really, really love being youth minister.

Last Easter I did have my teen celebrate the resurrection of Jesus by doing a line dance to Staying Alive by the Bee Gees. That was really exciting. Do you want to see a sample of my moves? We did a little part of this and a little bit of this, and it was really good and they hated me for it.

Hi, friends. My name is Emily Showler and I am the coordinator of youth and young adult ministries here at St. John Neumann Parish in Canton, Michigan.

I love my job because we do play a lot of games. That is a stereotype, and it is true. What I think is so incredible about working with young people is that when they do experience the power of Jesus, when they experienced the love of Jesus, their hearts catch on fire and they have a power to go out and share that with their friends and share that with the world in a really unique way.

A few years ago, I was helping to work on a leadership camp where we were coaching teens to be leaders in their community. One of the girls had gotten a second-degree burn on her hand and it was terrible. Throughout that camp, one of the other teens was inspired to pray and ask for her healing. He prayed over her hand and it wasn’t healed immediately, but he wanted to be persistent. He had a lot of faith that God would heal her. He prayed for her again. By the time we left that camp over the course of three days, her hand was completely healed.

What I love about that story, besides the incredible healing power of God, is that he had come into the church about a year earlier because a friend of his had invited him to youth group and he was impacted through that. We just saw this rolling experience of one teen inviting another, praying for another, so that they each could encounter God’s love and God’s healing power in some way.

I had just gotten through meeting with and praying with one of the girls, and she had really had a moment of breakthrough. We were walking out into a balcony of this little chapel and on the lower level, Adoration was going on. Right as we’re walking out of the door, she says to me, “I’m just so happy, I want to dance.” Right at that moment, the worship playlist of prayerful music that had been playing switched over to the song, On Top of the World, by Imagine Dragons. It’s this very happy, dancy song about being on top of the world. I was like, “Then let’s dance,” and so we just had this moment of dancing in front of Jesus in the Eucharist.

At first you’re like, okay, this feels kind of silly, but it literally was one of the most purely joyful moments that I’ve ever witnessed. Just to see her and her childlike joy and acceptance of the freedom that God was offering her was something that I will never forget, and that for me was just a witness to God’s own joy and God’s own delight that he wants to make us free. I will hold on to that forever and I pray that she will too.

When I first encountered Jesus, the thing that stood out to me the most was joy. I have been lit on fire with joy ever since. I have just wanted from day one to pour that joy out into them. I wanted them to know that they were loved and I wanted them to know that life would never be the same once they knew that. Getting to experience that every day and getting to witness that is just really exciting.