It’s no secret that fewer and fewer millennials attend Mass and identify as practicing Catholics. To some, this may seem like a crisis. To others, this may seem like a challenge, an opportunity to embrace being a minority in the church and to use it as a catalyst to grow the Catholic Church.
Leaving the Catholic Cocoon
I went to a Catholic university and was constantly surrounded by students wanting to grow in faith, build Catholic community, go to Mass, and attend and staff retreats. I even lived in a lay Catholic community. During that time, I was satiated with spiritual nourishment. In my ignorance and naivety, I took for granted the immediacy of Catholic community.
When I graduated from college, my Catholic community dissipated. Friends moved away and my community became less convenient. It became work to go to Mass and to find a Faith community. Though I had Catholic friends in town, we were on different schedules, so I started to go to Mass by myself.
So began my struggle to discover my place in the Church. I often found myself looking around the church to see an abundance of families, elderly folks, and high school students, but few millennials. Where was everyone?! This weighed heavily on me. I wanted to meet other Catholics and grow in community together.I often found myself looking around the church to see an abundance of families, elderly folks, and high school students, but few millennials. Where was everyone?! I wanted to meet other Catholics and grow in community together. #BISblog // Click To Tweet
The Temptation to Give Up
Every generation is tempted not to prioritize religion. The secular world’s lack of ethics and morality so greatly conflict with the Catholic Church’s teachings. The attempt to reconcile the truth—our Catholic Faith—with the secular world can be overwhelming.
Millennials are pulled in so many directions. With a world of information at our fingertips, the distractions away from God and our Faith are growing. The adversary is trying to drown out the voice of Truth.
But there is hope in this challenge to carry our crosses and spread the Good News of Christ.
Responding to the Millennial Catholic Mission
Jesus never said that being His disciple would be easy. After falling off the wagon for a bit and wallowing in self-pity that I no longer had a rich faith community, I realized that I was perpetuating the problem. I wasn’t living as a disciple. It was time for me to embrace the call to discipleship.
Instead of seeing the decreasing number of millennial Catholics as an overwhelming obstacle, we are called to see this as an opportunity and a responsibility to be disciples of the truth and to grow the millennial church.It was time for me to embrace the call to discipleship. #BISblog // Click To Tweet
So How Do We Celebrate and Grow the Millennial Church?
While the task to grow the millennial church seems daunting, little by little, we can respond to our call to discipleship. This starts with celebrating the Church.
Recognize That There are Other Catholic Millennials
It can be easy to recognize the limited number of young adults as Mass or church events. But we need to shift our perspective and recognize and celebrate the ones that are there. We need to step out of our comfort zones and talk to other young people after Mass, read the bulletin, and attend events that are catered to young adults.
Let’s put ourselves out there!
Join a Local Young Catholic Professionals Chapter
Young Catholic Professionals is national organization helps young Catholics to become leaders and to grow in faith and community. Attending YCP events is an easy way to network with other young folks and celebrate the millennial church.
If there isn’t a YCP in your area, consider starting a chapter.
Go to Theology on Tap
Theology on Tap often appeals to younger crowd. What better way to grow the millennial church than by casually sipping beer with fellow Catholics and listening to speakers discuss current and relevant topics in the Church?
Pray for the Church
We aren’t called to sit complacently and watch the conflict between the secular and religious world grow. We are called to take action through prayer. Ephesians 6:18 reminds us to pray “on all occasions.” Prayer is more powerful than the adversary. Pray constantly for God to work in the hearts of young people.
Invite, Invite, Invite
We all know people who are struggling with their faith, don’t know God, haven’t been to church in a while, or practice different religions. We never know when someone is seeking an invitation to grow closer to God.
Don’t be afraid of rejection. We have to be invitational and encourage the people in our lives to discover the beauty of the Church.
Through prayer, action and invitation God beckons us to respond to the challenge, the opportunity, to celebrate and to grow the millennial Church. May we eagerly answer this calling to live this mission of discipleship.
Are you looking for a young adult faith community? What are some ways you think you can act to grow your community right where you are?Embracing the Millennial Catholic Mission #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Mercedes Shirts lives in Idaho, land of the potatoes, with her husband, bulldog and cat. When not indulging in a good read and black coffee, she enjoys cooking, running and sipping red wine. You can find more about her here.