How do we bring young people into or back to the Church?

A long and rather sobering article on the Huffington Post site about religious belief and practice among Generation Y millennials in Canada starts out with an annoying anecdote of a young lesbian who finds she has to leave her Pentecostal church, but then we get to this part:

An exclusive survey of 1,004 Canadian millennials conducted for The Huffington Post Canada found 51 per cent of respondents said they never attend a religious institution. Just 12 per cent said they attend weekly, with attendance highest among millennials in central Canada (23 per cent) and lowest in Quebec (3 per cent).

Weekly attendance was most common among Christian denominations, followed by Jews and Muslims, the Abacus Data survey, conducted Oct. 23-25, found.

In 2005, Statistics Canada found that 33 per cent of Canadians aged 15 to 24 had never attended a religious institution, compared with 25 per cent in 1985.

“What we’re seeing … is that there is a significant percentage of Canadian teens and young adults who are abandoning religious orientations after being involved in them as children,” said James Penner, an author and sociologist based in Lethbridge, Alta.

In his 2012 report Hemorrhaging Faith, which analyzes why and when young Christian Canadians leave and return to church, Penner found that, for every three young people who attended church as a child in the 1980s and 90s, only one regularly attends now.

Moreover, he found that only 23 per cent of young Canadian Christians are “religious engagers,” meaning they still associate with the Christian tradition.

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3 Responses to How do we bring young people into or back to the Church?

  1. Pingback: How do we bring young people into or back to the Church? | Catholic Canada

  2. Rev22:17 says:

    Deborah,

    From your quotation: “What we’re seeing … is that there is a significant percentage of Canadian teens and young adults who are abandoning religious orientations after being involved in them as children,” said James Penner, an author and sociologist based in Lethbridge, Alta.

    There are a couple major factors that cause young people to abandon the faith of their parents.

    >> 1. In too many cases, parishes gear mass to children in the mistaken hope that bringing in children will bring in the parents as well. The real consequence of this disaster is the misperception that faith is only for children, and that it is not relevant to teens and adults. The result is that children leave, and might come back when they have children of their own.

    >> 2. Even in parishes in which Sunday mass is geared toward adults, there is an abject lack of ministry for post-confirmation teens and young adults — the very age at which people are making life-changing decisions (college, career, marriage, etc.). If the church is not there to support young adults at such critical junctures, those young adults will leave and turn to whoever is there to support them when they need it most.

    Finally, in some cases, there may be a need for some serious aggiornamento — that is, the “bringing up to date” of practice while remaining firmly within the bounds of doctrinal orthodoxy.

    Norm.

  3. Ioannes says:

    Here’s my understanding of the cause of the situation, coming from someone born in the 80′s, during John Paul II’s papacy:

    As kids, we really find more “interesting things” to fixate upon, which we would feel “understands us” or “Makes us feel special”. (They’re all brilliantly designed by marketing, corporate entities, as we all know.) You got television, music, internet, cartoons, toys, video games… the opposite sex…(or same. *shudder*) then in school, (where kids spend a large chunk of their lives in) you have kids who are into something, and that gets spread around. “Oh, this celebrity/singer/actor/fandom/subculture is in right now, you probably belong to this Group X, because you fit Description X.” Or you have some people, both students and teachers saying “Well, school is just a place parents dump their kids into so they have less things to worry about.”

    Then, the parents would allow their children to be exposed to anything, because they don’t want to be totalitarian/authoritarian/dictatorial in their parenting. Or it’s like them feeding their kids junk because “Look, they’re happy! They’re not going to give me a headache about what they want! So I’m happy! Everything is fine!” So their kids drift off into whateverland, trying to figure out who they are. (Hint: Church becomes a habit, but there’s no active participation, no matter what the priest tries- he just can’t compete! So the kids thinks of the Church DEAD LAST into what things figure into their lives, parents come a close second to last.)

    So in church, parents who fail to catechize their kids or just poorly catechize them, ends up with young people who don’t understand what’s going on, can’t depend on their parents to tell them what’s going on, Then the kid has different ideas about what Church is all about, and think they know everything enough to make good judgements about what they think about anything in the world. Then, Parents, Church, authority figures become nothing more than pesky obstacles to getting what they want, hence, at least in America, explaining why so many young people vote for people like Obama. Nevermind the irresponsible adults young people look up to because they think those adults are sympathetic for failing to be adults.

    For the long term, and I’m going to try and make this concise:
    1. We need to make more babies. 2. Kick out idiot priests with weird ideas (liberation theology, Christian Atheism, new ageism, etc.) 3. Find good teachers of catechism (maybe one of the parents? Get some Dominican friars?) 4. Parents and children both get Catholic (orthodox, traditional) education at least an hour a week at the Parish Hall or something. 5. Total immersion into Catholic Life. 6. Private, Catholic, community-funded, parallel structure of education for young people. 7. Absolute struggle against secularism, from culture to politics. 8. Preach, like the parable of the mustard seed! 9. Defend against attacks. 10. We need to make more babies.

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