I Can’t Get Next To You

The Temptations were once called the “kings of R&B” and ruled the airwaves from the ‘60s to the ‘90s. It’s unfortunate that most Millennials, both Generations Y and definitely Z, probably never heard of them or of Motown Records. The song is about a man who can do anything, except get close to a particular person he likes. The same can be true about the Catholic Church and Millennials. It’s not just the Catholic Church but all organized religions. Millennials, my children included, are all about technology, independence, and truth.  They are the largest demographic in the US and therefore wield an enormous amount of leverage in several markets.

As a Baby Boomer, working in a university setting, I deal with Millennials all day, every day.  I can tell you they do not think in the same traditional way that you or I do. Contrary to what is being put out there about them, they are creative, smart, and opinionated. They can be open to everything and closed to everything at the same time. They hold no loyalties, they trust no one, are in debt, but generally optimistic. They hold off on marriage, yet lead in out-of-wedlock births, while firmly believing children raised in 1-parent homes are bad for society. A recent Pew Study shows the divide.  Where 70% of past generations absolutely believed in God, only 58% of Millennials do with only 36% self-identifying as religious.1

Organized religion is low on their priority list. Many experienced “religion” from the church services they were forced to attend by their parents. They don’t like phonies and if Millennials aren’t learning or doing something constructive they are disengaged. The one truth they have embraced is Pro-Life. They are the catalyst driving the movement. Just tune in to the March For Life every January and look at the ages of those involved.

If we want Millennials to return to the Church we have to engage them. Millennials are desperate for truths and if you don’t give it to them straight, you’re out. They don’t want wishy-washy sayings or flip-flop beliefs; they want the history and the proof of who you are, what you believe in, and why. They want the blood and guts, the nuts and bolts, botta bing—botta boom.  Who was Jesus, what did He say, and what did He do?  Who are the saints, what did they say, and what did they do. Why do we have these sacraments? What do these symbols mean? Why do you do what you do?  You must be prepared with answers and fully engage them. They are interested and they will challenge you so be prepared.

In their book, The Millennials, Thom and Jess Rainer state that those Millennials who do strongly believe and identify with God “are passionate about their faith”. They want to be “radically” rooted in community, know Scripture, and love their neighbor.2 This could account for the uptick in young people returning to traditional Catholic churches.  Teach them the traditions of the church. Most Millennials have never heard of the Tridentine/Extraordinary Form/Latin Mass, Gregorian chant/Medieval sacred music/polyphonic music, and many are drawn to it.

You can’t expect Millennials to just wander into your church. You have to seek them out. They love an invitation. They are not shy about talking to older people—they like being mentored. You will have to come out of your comfort zone, though. You must make yourself available to them. If they know what you’re saying is truth they’ll return and listen for more. They are thirsty for knowledge. Be that fount.

I’m not saying all of them will listen. There are several who, like some of us, are jaded or firmly held in their beliefs and not open to other opinions. Many were raised in a secular home. As one Millennial put it, “I pray all the time but who am I praying to?” They are hungry for answers. Others are taught religion is a bad thing—guilt laden, judgmental, and close minded.  We need to show them that’s not so.

Don’t expect Millennials to come running to a “young adult” group meeting at the church. The first thing you should do is avoid the young adult moniker—they hate it. Go to them on their territory. Remember Theology on Tap? Why not host a short, engaging, lecture at the local coffee shop or art center? After the lecture open the floor to discussion.  Keep it fast-paced and make sure the topics are rooted in Scripture and relatable to today’s society. Explain what we can do together for others in our neighborhood.

Millennials want to change the world and make it a better place. Ask for their help organizing church/community events, teaching the youngsters and the oldsters the fundamentals of computers and safely navigating the Web, hosting a Millennial Bible Study, coordinating a food pantry day, neighborhood cleanup, or painting or remodeling for a neighbor in need, anything where they can lead the way and make a difference in their community—all in the name of being a good Christian. Include them in church services as lectors or ushers. Millennials are the most educated generation…utilize their skills and include them in parish councils. Millennials love social media.  You want to reach them, make sure your website is up to par and you must have an active Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc. And who best to be in charge of your church’s social media?  A Millennial of course.

Lastly and most importantly, when they see a parish community actually living their faith, knowledgeable in its teachings, knowing God and His Law, and loving each other, you will capture their hearts and souls. Who doesn’t enjoy being with people of all backgrounds and ages who love their Lord and their neighbor?  Isn’t that what living Catholic is all about? To get Millennials to the Catholic Church we need to change I Can’t Get Next To You to Come Together.

 

1 Pew Research Center, Social & Demographic Trends, Millennials in Adulthood, March 7, 2014 www.pewsocialtrends.org/2014/03/07/millennials-in-adulthood/

2 The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation by Thom S. Rainier and Jess Rainer

 

Advertisements

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Caren Grillo
    Mar 14, 2018 @ 12:05:35

    Really enjoyed this Lucie. You should have been a writer Lucie and you are so talented

    Like

    Reply

  2. NancyO
    Mar 19, 2018 @ 04:53:35

    personally the only way “Anyone” comes close to the Father, is through great suffering.
    I’ve met too many christians, who Only think and care for their personal families,
    they do not listen they are very far from Christ – as far as evangelizing, actions speak louder than words. but then again they are to busy, to important, and “why don’t you just hurry up and die” No Compassion Lucie

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: