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During my time serving with FCA, I’m grateful that I’ve been fortunate enough to forge incredible church partnerships with some incredible youth pastors. In my experience, these church partnerships have advanced the Gospel at a greater capacity than either one of us could alone! Here are some of what I believe are the best practices for partnering with parachurch ministries in your local area:
In the last six years, I can’t tell you how many youth pastors I’ve reached out to and shared FCA’s vision with who have said they just assumed what we were about and wish they had known what we actually do! This part is easy because this can be done by either your own research, asking other local churches what parachurch ministries they know of that operate locally, or by asking your students what their campus offers or what organizations they’re a part of – whether that’s FCA, YoungLife, Youth For Christ, or something else! Grab a cup of coffee with the local staff/leader of the ministry, and ask a lot of questions. I’m sure you’ll be surprised at what you find out!
I have been fortunate enough to build relationships with youth pastors who have had a genuinely servant-hearted approach to our partnership, and those partnerships have had the most significant collective impact on students. Viewing parachurch ministry partnerships as a way to advance the Gospel and viewing those leading the parachurch ministry as co-laborers in the Gospel is necessary for a healthy partnership. While I’ve built some great relationships with local church staff over the years, I’ve also met with pastors who viewed their ministries as supreme to all others and seemed only to be interested in how my ministry could help them increase attendance on a Wednesday night. While your partnership with a parachurch might advance your church’s ministry (and we hope it does!), going in with that as the primary motive will surely make the parachurch ministry and those leading it feel insignificant and as if you’re using them for your own gain.
Let’s say I’ve gotten to know the local youth pastor and discovered he has a background in baseball. I then ask a local baseball coach I know about a guy I recently met who would be a great fit to share a devotional with his team, maybe before practice once a week, and the coach jumps on it! After a few weeks, one of these baseball players who didn’t have a church before starts going to this youth pastor’s church. I call that a win-win for BOTH ministries, wouldn’t you?! Here’s another one. Let’s say you want to have a session during your DNOW or annual retreat about how to live for Jesus at your school. Do you know who would love to help you do that? Your local FCA/CRU/Young Life/etc. staff! Win-win, again! I use these two examples because they are real-life examples from my ministry in just the last six months. We are better, and our ministries are too, when we aren’t competing with one another but rather working alongside one another with the same goal in mind – for students to know and love Jesus, love their neighbor, and make disciples!
The partnership between local churches and parachurch ministries is one that I know can be an incredibly powerful force in advancing the Gospel. I pray these practices aid you in creating greater ripples in your communities and your students’ lives for the Kingdom of God!
Share your thoughts with others in our YM360 community:
- How have you partnered with parachurch ministries in the past to better serve your students?
- What struggles or challenges have you faced when it comes to partnering with parachurch ministries?