Frank discussions, advice, and opinions from a Catholic Director of Religious Education.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Catholic Teens in Lutheran Youth Groups

I am going to say this as clearly as possible. Stop bringing your kids to protestant youth groups.

"Look, they only teach general Christian values. What's wrong with that?"

Everything. Stop it.

"All of his friends go there. He'll feel left out."

Make new friends.  Better yet, invite your son's Lutheran friends to Mass and the Catholic youth group. Don't have one? Talk to your pastor about starting one up. Whatever you do, please, for the sake of the tears of the Holy Angels, stop bringing your kids to protestant youth groups. I don't care if they are Lutheran, Baptist, Non-denominational or United Church of the Congregation for the Tabernacle of the Wicked Awesome Worship Band. Stop it.

Why? Perhaps a story will help.

Some time ago a parent felt like telling someone off and I happened to be around. It happens. He was angry that our pastor had required Mass attendance each Sunday for all students preparing for Confirmation. Now, keep in mind that Mass attendance at this particular parish isn't required, just Mass attendance somewhere. There are times when a family is out of town or just decides to go somewhere else. Peachy. Send in a bulletin with the celebrant's signature and everything is alright. In fact, some families do this almost every week. This parent apparently did not want the hassle.

Parent: "We go somewhere else to Mass."

Ed: "Sir, that is fine. Just send in a bulletin."

Parent: "I don't think you understand. It's best for my son to go to (Generic Parish Name)."

And thus began his grand apologia...

Apparently, his son had been going to the Lutheran youth group. A lot. A whole lot. In fact, his son went so often, with his father's blessing, that he started to say that he wanted to convert. "Dad", he said, "I think I am going to become a Lutheran after Confirmation."

This is the point in his story where the blinding "shoot me in the face" pain began.

"But you know what?", the father said. "My son came to me the other day and said, 'Dad, I think I will stay a Catholic because I like Fr. So and So too much. He would be dissapointed if I left.' Don't you see?", the father asked. "This priest is having a wonderful impact on my son."

Yes, sir. I do see. Do you?

What I see is that teenagers desperately seek acceptance. They want to feel that they fit in. They want to feel like they are a part of something greater than themselves. They crave a place in the world. I see that this man sent his son to a protestant youth group that provided all of that. I also see that this point was proven when the son decided to remain a Catholic not because it was the true faith or God's Church, but because he "liked" one priest. What happens when that priest requires something from him that he does not like? What happens when there are no likeable priests?

It isn't about the protestant teachings on youth group night. If conversion were only intellectual then cults wouldn't exist. By sending our children to protestant youth groups we send a message that those communities are acceptable alternatives. We also allow ample opportunity for the "nice factor" to come into play. "Those people can't be wrong about anything that important. They're so nice. How could God not like what they are doing?"

Children are not adults. They are still being formed in their faith and they niether have the knowledge nor the conviction to engage their friends in an environment where everyone believes something different. Stop it. Stop it now.


  1. for the record, the lutherans have these issues with our kids attending the evangelical youth groups.

  2. I'm sorry but you sound very ignorant. I am a Catholic teen who goes to both Catholic and Lutheran youth groups and I think it is fine.