The Catechetical Review - Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization

Building Ministry Bridges: The Advantages of Collaboration in Youth Ministry

Authored by Eric Heckman in Issue #10.2 of Catechetical Review

When my sixteen-year-old son was young I asked him, as people do with young children, what he wanted to do when he grew up. His response was that he wanted to build bridges in the sky. I was not exactly sure what he meant by that, but I certainly look forward to how it turns out. Building bridges is a meaningful and significant undertaking. Bridges occupy the space between us and help bring people together. Clearly, I am not speaking solely of physical bridges. I am not so sure my son was, either.

The word “collaborate” means “to work jointly with others in some endeavor.”[1] The “labor” part in the word clearly means work, but I found the first part of the word to be interesting. The prefix “col” is from the French word for a pass or depression in a mountain range. If you have ever driven through the Brenner Pass in the Tyrolian Alps, you know that, like bridges, passes bring people together.

When we collaborate, we participate in the work of the Holy Spirit: the work of unity. We take part in fulfilling the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (Jn 17:20–21). When we seek unity with others through our ministry, we mirror the inner workings of the Holy Trinity, which is an unending, perfectly collaborative relationship.

So, how do we use our ministries to construct bridges? What does it look like for us to “fill the spaces” that separate us from others in the labor of evangelization? What valleys are we willing to traverse to bring people together? How do we carry out youth ministry in a collaborative way that successfully allows us to include and impact those we may not otherwise accompany? Let us explore a handful of ecclesial bodies in which we could labor to increase collaboration.

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This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting [email protected]

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