Seven Island churches are casting out into the community with a new youth group program they’re calling The Net, aimed at middle and high school aged students. The churches will work together to provide support and financial resources for the new program.

Youth groups are hardly a new concept, said Rev. Chip Seadale, rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Edgartown. But given the small Island population during the off-season, there just aren’t that many young people at each individual church.

“It’s hard here for one church to maintain numbers,” Reverend Seadale said. “Kids have so many distractions today — there’s hockey, soccer, baseball, dance, music. It’s difficult sometimes to just be together in community. And a family in West Tisbury probably isn’t going to drive to Edgartown every week in the winter for a youth group.”

The plan is for The Net to move around to each of the seven Island churches throughout the year, allowing each to host for a couple of months at a time.

He said parents have often talked to him about their experiences in faith-based youth groups when they were younger — the service projects, the cookouts, the ski trips, the friendships — and expressed interest in the idea of having the same kind of program for their own children.

“We really want to provide a safe, non-competitive environment where they can really focus on the uniqueness, integrity and dignity of every person, with an element of compassionate service among, for, and with others,” Reverend Seadale explained. “It’s character building. A place to come and be who you are.”

Organizers stress that The Net, although it is being organized by many of the Island’s Protestant churches, is not meant to be a replacement for church-going, nor is it meant to be exclusive. It is open to all Island young people — Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, essentially all denominations, including those who have no affiliation with any religious community.

The churches are not coming together in an effort to expand their own faith communities, but rather to offer something new to young people on the Island, Reverend Seadale said. All denominations essentially hold some of the same key elements, Reverend Seadale explained.

“Humanity has a spiritual nature and we need to feed it just like we feed our intellect with academics. There’s more to life, there’s still a lot of mystery, still a lot of things we don’t know the answer to and that’s okay. . . Once you understand there are more ways to look at life and the world than all the ways we get sucked into looking at it, the world becomes alive and that changes everything.”

It was a trip to Boston last spring that brought the idea of an Islandwide youth group to life.

In April, youth from St. Andrew’s, the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury and Grace Episcopal Church in Vineyard Haven traveled to Boston and worked with CityReach, an overnight urban outreach program that provides hands-on support to the city’s homeless. Watching the young people absorb the experience was the impetus to offer that same participation to more Island young people.

Cristina Pereira, a parishioner of the First Congregational Church and a teacher at the charter school, volunteered to chaperone on the trip along with her fiancé, Justin LaRue.

“The kids were amazing,” she said. “They did so much work, and then they came back to their home churches and presented their experiences to everyone. It just really made me want to give them the opportunity for more experiences like this.”

Beginning next Sunday, Sept. 14, Ms. Pereira will get that chance as she leads the inaugural session of The Net at the West Tisbury Congregational Church from 5 to 7:30 p.m. The leaders of the new endeavor approached Ms. Pereira about facilitating the group and she decided it was something she was ready to take on.

“I loved my youth group when I was younger,” Ms. Pereira, 30, said. “I loved the community, the friendships that blossomed in a very different way than through sports or school . . . In sports or music or dance there’s the expectation that you have to produce or perform. I hope this is a place where kids can come be themselves, hang out and get to know each other, and not have it be about what they have to produce.”

Ms. Pereira said the group will provide opportunities for discussion in a supportive environment, allowing those who participate to share their own ideas with others.

“I have all kinds of ideas for service projects in the community,” she added. “There’s the CROP Walk in October, gleaning, there are opportunities at Windemere, and we want to take another group to Boston. Really, though, I want to meet the kids and see what strikes a chord with them and see how they want to share their gifts and talents with others.”

Sponsoring churches include the Federated Church of Edgartown, West Tisbury Congregational Church, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Grace Episcopal Church, Vineyard Haven Baptist Church, Trinity United Methodist Church and the Chilmark Community Church. The first session is from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the West Tisbury Congregational Church on Sunday, Sept. 14. For more information, call Cristina Pereira at 508-560-3891, or any of the sponsoring churches.