Good morning everyone,
I recently read an article on a Millenial’s thoughts on what “the church” could do to win over the younger generations, who are for the most part leaving the church. The article details some staggering, but sadly not surprising, about how the younger generations are not going to Church. The author sites a “Barna Study” that says church attendance is at an all time low for young adults between the ages of 22-35. The study says 35% of young adults have an “anti-church” stance.
These statistics don’t come as a surprise to me, a fellow young adult, who all to often find myself without many people my age at Church events. The absence of the younger generations from church is an issue we have known about for awhile now, but we are seeing a resurgence in the Church’s commitment to the youth. In my Diocese, Young Adults are a top priority of the Bishop’s Pastoral Plan, and the next Synod of Bishops in 2018 is on “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.”
I am very active in the movement to bring back Young Adults to the Church, and consider this a call the Lord has given me. So I am on board for anyone who desires and acts on this problem with me. However, I disliked something about this article. It is too accusatory. It points fingers and assigns blame to “the church”, which I can only take to means the Pastors, parish officials and current ministry leaders. The author does not take ownership of the issue, or in anyway confess fault.
We will not bring Young Adults back to the Church by blaming the Church. This “us and them” mentality will only increase the amount of people with “anti-church” stances.
Lumen Gentium makes it clear that the Church is “the People of God” and that we all are equally apart of Jesus’ “Mystical Body”. We all share in the commission to preach the Gospel. We all are missionaries. God didn’t leave the work of salvation to a select group of professionals. We all have unique gifts and experiences that we can offer each other. Like a body, when one person hurts we all hurt. When our feet are in pain, our hands aren’t blaming them. We just feel the pain.
The Church is hurting because young people are hurting. We all feel the pain of their absence, and we all share in the obligation to bring the Love and Mercy of God to them.
We must hear the Call of the Lord, sit with it and chew on it, and go out. We must go and be with those outside the conventional “Walls of the Church”. We will not win back Young Adults waiting for them in our parish offices. We will not win back Young Adults if Young Adults are too afraid to do anything.
I truly believe the main reason we do not see more young people in Church is because no one is inviting them. The Gospel is a message of Joy and Love that must be shared. We must invite people to come to Mass with us. We must let people know the “Good News” that Jesus died for their sins and offers us salvation if we return to him. Jesus aches for His young ones. Do we ache for fellow brothers too?
The honest answer to that question, is clearly we do not. Not enough. If we did, we would not have enough time to point fingers. We would just be with them. Letting them know the “Good News”.
“All of them have a right to receive the Gospel. Christians have the duty to proclaim the Gospel without excluding anyone. Instead of seeming to impose new obligations, they should appear as people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet.” (Pope Francis, “Joy of the Gospel”)