“Three Steps to Engaging Catholic Youth”
For over 13 years the Lord has truly Blessed me as a Lay Catholic Evangelist to travel the United States and abroad, and it never ceases to amaze me at the number of young people who are attracted to the Word of the Lord through me. Yes, I give all Glory, Honor and Praise to the Lord, because it has to be Him and a miracle that young people are attracted to the Word of God through a 50 plus year old man. This is truly the essence of Catholic Evangelization; “GO and make disciples…” Matthew 28:19-20
It is wonderful and humbling at the same time because I have found young people are hungry. They are hungry for truth and to be challenged. I get asked all the time, ‘how do I get my kids to come back to the Church?’ Well in order for us to address that question we must ask ourselves another question, and that is, ‘why’ are they leaving the Church in the first place?
We have failed our youth in this day and age. Failed to properly catechize them and failed to meet them where they are in life. We talk at them and not with them. We listen but do not hear them when they want their voices to be heard. Thus the seek affirmation, validation and affection from other sources; internet, strangers, wrong choice of friends. Finally, they do not see us (older folks) truly living our lives and giving witness to our faith, so they leave when the first opportunity to comes. 1 Peter 3:15 What is the reason for your hope?
Here are my three steps to Engaging Catholic Youth;
- Listen. We must listen to what they are going through in this world. We must listen to their struggles, issues and fears. We must allow their voices to be heard. We must listen to their suggestions in life and especially in faith, because their faith is different than their parents and grand parents faith. Take time to truly listen to them.
- Engage. Most young people are not on Facebook. Facebook has become popular for “US”. It’s not cool for kids to see their grandparents on Facebook , on vacation, in their swim ware. That’s soooooo not ‘lit’! (Do you know what ‘Lit’ means?) Young people are not only on Twitter but Instagram (IG) and Snapchat. They have ventured into areas where we don’t take the time to learn. We must engage them in their world. Earn win trust, speak the vernacular they speak, catch their attention and then captive them with being involved in their lives.
- Recognize. St. Pope John Paul the Great once said of the youth, “they are the
present and future of our Church.” Most parishes only recognize youth on Youth Sunday, which is once per quarter or one Sunday a month, when in actuality they might be present every Sunday. I know I was when I was younger because my mother made me go to church. The youth want to be recognized for their work; they want to be empowered to be ministers, not just Alter Servers, but Ushers, Choir members, Lector’s and Greeters. They want to be known by site and their contributions matter.
Listen, Engage and Recognize. This is what are young people are seeking in this world. They don’t want to be put aside, like they have been and they will retreat into their own digital world, escaping the reality of life; the reality of the Truth, which can only be found in Christ who is the source and summit of their existence. They have been forced to grow up faster than generations prior, yet we do not provide the solid foundation of faith which will sustain them through all trials and tribulations. Answers cannot be found in a pill, drug, alcohol or Google. “The” answer can only be found in Christ Jesus, who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life”. John 14:6
Thank you and please share with others.