Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Catholic Teen, Young Life, and a better alternative?

So when does a Catholic parent think their child is ready for the trenches?  Many organizations with militant vocations toward other religions that do not think the way they think are out in numbers for the summer break.  Summer camps are the thing to send your child for the continuing 'faith enrichment' process of their learning years.  However, not all camps are recommended for Catholic families.

Young Life, for one, is an organization that preys on the youth and evangelizes them to their way of thinking.  In their "About" section, they describe the hierarchy and that each are trained for the next phase with the bottom phase being the young and vulnerable.  They are trained to reach every teen.  There surely is a need to continue to find and help those that even today do not know Jesus Christ, but I truly believe that no "Christian" organization should take the place or even try to supplement the Catholic parent role with their children.  The Catholic Church is so misunderstood and misinterpreted that even Catholics get it wrong on many important issues and doctrine, which poses a very detrimental situation for Catholic parents who send their children go off to Protestant-sponsored camps for an entire week.  It has been a concern for many Catholic families that there aren't enough Catholic camps and ministries for our youth, so as a result, they resort to other churches.  We need to change this situation immediately!

In the meantime, these organizations are making things fun and exciting, full of lively and hip music and great food and games.  Campers and visitors alike come to have fun and find new Jesus one of their new friends they find?  Are they taught that Jesus is God, Almighty, Omnipotent and our creator; bigger than our minds can conceive, that He is divine?  Is He being worshiped and adored, or just introduced as a friend our new BFF?   Modern theology has thrown the divine and sacred out with the holy water and the Catholic parishes around the country are letting it happen as long as Catholic families continue to be unguided if not ignored when it comes to summer down time and recreating their youth.  Vacation Bible School, (VBS) stops at 5th or 6th grade, of course then the older children can help with VBS, but is that enough?  Life Teen starts at 9th grade, but what about the 7th and 8th graders?

Am I missing something?


Bryan said...

Have you considered starting something similar to VBS for those "in-between years?" It may very well take someone with the right idea and initiative to get the ball rolling on something.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that groups like Young Life are full of sincere people who are concerned about evangelizing the youth, so maybe saying they "prey" on the youth isn't the right way to put it. But you raise good points in your post. Very often the Catholic Church loses people to evangelical or fundamentalist groups because they were not well instructed in the Catholic faith and therefore didn't know how to answer the arguments of the evangelicals who insisted that the Catholic Church's teachings and practices are wrong.

Of course, as you point out, far too many people --both inside and outside the Church--have a poor understanding of Catholicism to begin with. This makes it all the more important for Catholic parents to be on guard when their kids are invited to things like this Young Life camp or other such youth activities that are orchestrated by evangelicals. Will their kids be able to stand up for their faith, or will they fall for the hoary--and erroneous--arguments against Catholicism and end up leaving the Church?

What is the answer? Better catechizing, for one thing. But yes, it sounds like there need to be more activities for Catholic youth so they don't feel they have to look outside the Church for wholesome fun and fellowship.


CWrites said...

I share this concern, especially after I saw one of my sisters leave Catholic Church and marry a would-be Pastor she met at a Young Life camp. We are starting a youth group at our little Parish. We are starting with fun stuff and little by little incorporating authentic Catholic spirituality. It is important to demonstrate how much we love our faith, and to give them the knowledge and experiences they need to treasure their faith and the fullness of truth, and spirituality (Mary, Communion of Saints, Eucharist, Confession, Confirmation) that we are so blessed with. I think there are some camps too that may or may not be an option for you depending on where you live. I know there is one in Wisconsin . . .

Adrienne said...

It is not the role of the Church to entertain the children. It is the duty of the Church to save their souls and the abysmal lack of proper religious education is the number one reason for the many lapsed Catholics.

Nothing wrong with "fun", after proper instruction. However, "fun" has replaced education. Besides, education should be "fun."

Vagus said...

As a young life leader I would love to clarify everything for you. YL does teach that Jesus is lord and sovereign over all. And it's main purpose is to reach out to high school students and teach them about christ's love for them and how
He wishes for them to walk with Him. In no way do we teach against the catholic church our "prey" on kids. And we certainly do not wish to take the place of Christian parents. I think you've been misinformed about our mission. While many leaders are Protestant we DO NOT teach against the catholic church or wish to lure catholic children away from the church. If we begin a friendship with a
Catholic kid we merely wish to help them with continuing the journey with Christ. I hope this clears things up. We most certainly love and worship Christ as Lord and he is the center of our work.

Unknown said...

I left the Catholic Church and belonged to a United Methodist Church for 23 years before 'reverting'. In our Methodist Sunday School Class YoungLife Leaders came and asked for support and were very open about their desire to target Catholic kids to "lead them to Christ" ie: out of the Church. They acknowledged that the best way was to keep their agenda under the radar screen, but all the fun is for a purpose and that purpose is a model of evangelism that promotes specific evangelical protestant doctrines, including faith alone, bible alone, once saved always saved etc.
I do not believe they were the exception. I have heard from too many folks in too many different parishes that this is the norm.

I would avoid YoungLife as a Catholic parent.

Bill W said...

If you want to experience a very similar awesome program for Catholic teens, check out Lufe Teen. They have been around for 40 years and is based on the mass and the Eucharist as the source and summit of our faith. It is also based on the love of the blessed virgin Mary. It does need to be adopted by the parish so get your priest or youth minister or DRE on board. We have used it in our parish for 4 years and have evangelized hundreds of teens. It's all about relational ministry and leading teens closer to Christ. Check it out!!

Unknown said...

I'm 18 years old, Catholic, go to a Catholic University and am very involved with Young Life. I started with Young Life two years ago in high school, and it has done nothing but help my faith grow tremendously. Did I convert? No. Am I still a devout Catholic? Yes. Young Life is committed to reaching kids who don't know God, probably because they have grown up in an environment where God was not introduced to them by parents, friends, etc. I stand by Young Life because I have seen this organization genuinely bring kids to Christ. I love being Catholic, but sometimes we need to realize that maybe our way isn't the ONLY way. We are Christians, and so are our brothers and sisters in Protestant faith denominations. They love Jesus and have committed relationships to Him. We will never have love and peace in this world if we continue to divide ourselves up.

Anonymous said...

Would encourage you to read this article.

I am sure there are plenty of stories of hurt between the two (YL and the Catholic Church) but they are really for the same thing. YL is starting to better serve Catholic families. As a YL staff person and someone who married a Catholic I am embarrassed to hear stories of YL staff/ volunteers being so ignortant but am encouraged when I see the progress and what they can do when they partner together to care for kids and families in their community.

Blair Ransom said...

I would encourage your readers to truly understand the mission and heart of Young Life. If we are honest, Catholic Youth are leaving the Church in droves. Young Life's mission is to introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and help them grow in their faith. Unchurched, disinterested kids are not engaged in either the church or their relationship with Christ. AND "Every Kid, Every where, for Eternity" is YL's call to reach not just suburbia, but urban, small-town, special needs(called Capernaum), teen moms and their babies (called Young Lives) and college kids (who are the most likely to leave their faith behind!).

As a marginally CATHOLIC, non-church kid going YL, I am grateful to Young Life for helping me to become a COMMITTED CATHOLIC Volunteer Leader, and now YL Capernaum Director. As a Catholic staffer, I work tirelessly to build relationships with and educate volunteer leaders, parents, committee member and churches on how to re-engaged Catholic kids who have been Confirmed and subsequently NEVER returned to the pew. YL often fills that gap until they return.

Please visit the Young Life link below for more information on the "That They May Be One" YL Catholic Initiative and make plans to attend the YL Catholic Forum in NYC Jan 2019.