I’ve got a question: If you go to a Catholic church, what have you noticed? If you’re thinking along the same lines as me, it’s that something’s missing; Millennials.
I’ve seen it in a few different churches lately and I hear it from so many people around me; there’s always a disproportionate amount of older people & children, in contrast with the Millennial generation.
Don’t believe me? Look at the facts: According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), as of 2016, 66% of Millennials attend Catholic mass a few times a year or less. Only 14% go weekly. 64% still have a belief in God undoubtedly, but far less actually make it to mass.
To be honest, it makes me sad. I want to ask them, why don’t you see what I see in this beautiful place? Doesn’t it just make your heart want to sing? But I already know the response. Maybe this celebration of mass does seem beautiful to them, but it probably doesn’t feel like enough. It probably feels like a place that doesn’t have all the answers.
AND…WHY IS THAT?
Yes, a big part of that is people not believing it’s a necessity to attend mass. However, another big part of that is many Catholic churches & their outreach. As someone who’s been able to attend a Church that was right next to my college University, I realized something; there’s a piece of this puzzle we’re missing.
It’s no surprise that people my age just don’t want to go to church anymore. But…at that University church, there were tons and tons of college-aged students. Obviously, this church had something figured out that other churches didn’t.
So, I came to my own conclusion: Catholic churches (not all, but some) aren’t doing enough to connect to this new generation. I don’t think it’s that they don’t want to, it’s just that they don’t know how. This generation wants answers, ones that make sense. They’re smart, relentless and ready to listen. They don’t want the sugar-coated talks that don’t really get to the heart of things. They want to hear the hard stuff, because that’s where they’ll root their beliefs.This generation wants answers, ones that make sense. They’re smart, relentless and ready to listen. Click To Tweet
That church I went to knew this. They had bible studies all over campus. They had amazing retreats where college students could comfortably begin a journey in faith or share what they were going through with others (it was a safe place for any story or person). They had tons of opportunities for Millennials to get involved in the church. They made mass relatable again.
The thing that really drew people in, though, was that they held talks that got to that hard stuff. They talked about Sex, Sin, Marriage/Relationships, Gender, Science/God, etc. They talked about the things that people want to talk about the most.
I think many Millennials have misconceptions about what the Catholic Church believes, and these talks were created for that. Plus, there’s so much that people just don’t know (me being one of them still!) That church I went to didn’t get embarrassed when it was time to talk about these issues. They said; look. This is where we stand. This is why. And this is important. There’s a real and understandable logic behind it.
Personally, it all helped me to realize why I was here, celebrating Jesus every week. It wasn’t just a routine. There was so much more meaning behind it.
WHERE CAN WE GO FROM HERE?
I think it all points to who’s working in and leading the church. At the church I attended, a lot of the people who worked there were younger. They understood the Millennial generation. Many other churches have a much older crowd that works for them, and I think that makes it harder to understand where younger people are coming from and what they need.
I’m not saying it’s wrong that older people work in those positions, I’m saying that we need to bridge the gap. We can’t keep doing what we we’ve been doing to reach people, because people are always changing.
It’s on all of us to share God in new and unique ways. To those Catholic Millennials I see who have that strong faith, I say get involved in your church. Be the bridge!
Catholic Millennials, you’re going be to that missing link that some churches need. Show others how we can reach our own generation, and even the ones following us. If you’re a blogger, don’t be afraid to share your faith and struggles online. Be real. If you’re good at leading, volunteer in the Church. Start something new. Lead a retreat.
You’re all going to bring something different, but necessary.