This is good news for those who hunger to share the ‘Good News’!
One of the biggest mistakes that I believe Catholics are making with regard to youth in the 21st century is presuming that they don’t/won’t/can’t be open to the fullness of the Gospel message.
Instead of sharing the story of Christ with joy, confidence, enthusiasm and optimism I believe that too much of the Catholic approach to reaching youth is to ‘dance around’ the core message.
We dress it up in ‘social justice’ talk or ‘spirituality’ (devoid of mentioning Jesus) talk.
We certainly avoid any mention of sin or being forgiven in the false presumption that this will scare youth away. Wrong.
Youth today have more problems, sadnesses, pressures and life stresses than ever before.
So many young teens are walking around with emotional and spiritual weights that once would only have been carried by weary old people.
This is why they are hungry for a message of hope – a message of life and freedom and help in their daily lives.
We see in our daily contact with youth, a desperate need to experience a world that is beyond this world.
We Catholics must tell them about Jesus in clear and unequivocal ways – or someone else will.
It has been noted that there is a huge growth in attendance at pentecostal/evangelical Churches.
I find that Catholics like to ‘poo-poo’ these Churches as irrelevant and superficial but we do so at our own ignorance and peril.
My husband and I have seen many great young Catholics be drawn to these Churches.
Why are they so attractive?
Well, it is true that the music is usually very upbeat, and the congregation usually very friendly, but my observation is that young people are attracted to these Churches for one main reason – because they hear the Gospel preached clearly, confrontingly and in a way that leads them to a change of life.
These Churches have learnt how to present the Gospel in an uncompromising way and in ways that use all the latest in communication technology and techniques.
Of course there are problems with these Churches, but we cannot ignore the fact that they are filled to the rafters with youth. They must be doing something we can learn from.
Finally, I believe that the loss of our youth is a serious tragedy in our Church and one that we should all be losing sleep over.
I sometimes scratch my head at the way in which we as a Church throw ourselves into current political and social issues like the war in Iraq and boat people, but can sleep soundly knowing that each Sunday there is a whole generation missing from our faith community.
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
The Catholic Leader acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of this country and especially acknowledge the traditional owners on whose lands we live and work throughout the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.