Can Ecumenism Spill Over into Youth Ministry?

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So we belong to the Reformed family of the Christian Church. That means our congregations often have opportunities to work with other Reformed and Presbyterian congregations. Some of our churches work with Baptists, Methodists, and Catholics in community action projects. Our church planters work with others from a wide variety of denominations in their outreach. I think our ecumenism is far more active and healthy than it was when I was a kid.

I’m realizing though, that in all of my years of youth ministry, I rarely brought our youth groups into interaction with those outside the Reformed tradition. Honestly, many of the parents of our youth members were probably glad I didn’t, but that’s certainly not a compelling reason to avoid it.

I’ve been blessed by my relationships and work with a variety of Christians. So why haven’t I brought that same blessing to our youth group? Especially in the area of social justice and neighborhood outreach, it would seem to me that combining youth groups could have a tremendous impact on those living just beyond the walls of our churches.

We do this cool program at our church, called Hand2Hand Ministry. We bring backpacks full of food to local schools on Fridays for the children who will go hungry over the weekend. Yeah, in our suburb, there are kids who do not have enough food on the weekends. We have expanded this ministry to include a wide variety of churches in our community.  And yet as I think about this, we’ve never included our youth group or any other church youth group in this ministry. Hmmmm.

I would love to hear any stories of youth groups that are interacting with others from different denominations. I suspect there are some learnings that could be shared, both of ideas that worked well, and ideas that bombed. And did you get pushback from some parents?  I’m just curious about that aspect.

Working with other Believers to be the hands and face of Christ in this broken world.  Quite a concept, huh?

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