You are not the only Christian working with youth in your community. There are perhaps dozens of Protestant and Catholic youth workers who focus on serving the teenagers in your hometown. And while you may be on a first-name basis with some of the Protestant youth pastors, do you know the local Catholic youth ministers?
There are several reasons to get to know the Catholics in your community, and reaching out to your peers — those running the youth group at the local parish — is a great place to start.
3 REASONS TO REACH OUT TO CATHOLIC YOUTH LEADERS:
1. IT WILL HELP WITH THE HANDOFF.
As your students grow in their faith and you direct them to local churches, it always helps to know the youth pastors. If you are Protestant and one of your Catholic students is not connected to a Catholic parish, you want to be able to recommend one that’s thriving and has an active youth ministry. If you are friends with the local Catholic youth leaders, they can recommend parishes and help students get connected.
2. IT BUILDS TRUST IN THE COMMUNITY.
If you are friends with the youth minister at a given Catholic parish, the parents there will be more willing to let their kids go to Young Life camp and more enthusiastic when their kids sign up for work crew. In building a friendship with a Catholic youth minister, you can show that Young Life is not interested in competing with the local church youth group; Young Life is the missionary arm of the churches in town and seeks to gather the disconnected.
3. FRIENDSHIP LEADS TO COLLABORATION.
Strong relationships between Young Life and Protestant churches have led to increased donations, stronger committees, and a supply of volunteer leaders. The same fruitful bonds are available when Young Life and Catholic parishes develop relationships. We’ve seen parishes open their doors to host Capernaum groups. Some parishes have sent their kids to Young Life camps. And a growing number of Catholic youth ministers are now volunteering as Young Life leaders.
In the video below, I describe how when I was a committee member, I introduced myself to a Catholic youth minister who was new in town. We became friends and she now serves as a Young Life leader at a local public high school.