One of the greatest challenges facing the Church today is the missing generation of young adults. Traditionally, American young adults followed in the religious footsteps of their parents and grandparents, but today that is not the case. As a result, many parishes are looking for ways to draw in the missing generation.
Who makes up this generation?
When we speak of young adults, generally, we refer to individuals 18-35 years old. In the social sciences, they are known as Millennials and Gen Z. A lot of research has been done about the religious affiliation or non-affiliation of these age groups. This research shows that young Catholics are leaving their faith at rates higher than almost any other religious group. As a result, we urgently need to focus on this age group in our evangelization efforts.
Prepare to meet this generation where they’re at
To better equip parish leaders to understand, and connect with young adults, the Office of Engagement is hosting a conference on June 9th titled, The Missing Generation: Strategies for Receiving and Engaging Young Adults in Our Parish Communities. Nearly every leader in parish life has a role to play in welcoming and engaging young adults, especially those who have first contact with individuals who approach the Church: front office staff, clergy, pastoral associates, OCIA coordinators, marriage prep coordinators, and infant baptism coordinators.
This conference is particularly tailored for these leaders, as they have a tremendous opportunity to either attract young adults to the parish community or to turn them away—especially at gateway moments. Gateway moments such as weddings, baptisms, and funerals are all opportunities to welcome and engage people who might have been away from the Church.
The hard work of bringing young adults – or any person, for that matter – is to foster relationships. How do we care for the person who walks in the door or calls the parish? How do we show him that he is valued and cared for? Unleash the Gospel challenges us in this regard,
“Every parish should deliberate on how to welcome those who have never come to church, or who have not been there in years, and who may cross the threshold with some trepidation. Are we sometimes tempted to react to such people like the older brother in Luke 15, who responded to the homecoming of his prodigal brother with anger and judgmentalism? Are we sometimes indifferent? Or are we rather like the father, who warmly embraced his son and celebrated his homecoming with great joy?” (Unleash the Gospel, Marker 8.3)
The keynote speaker at this event is Pete Burak, the Director of id, the young adult outreach of Renewal Ministries. Pete is the founder of the Millennial Church Conference and a frequent speaker on discipleship, evangelization, and young adult topics. Pete is a subject-matter expert in this area and will provide principles, language, and vision for how every parish leader can work to reach the missing generation.
The conference will be held at St. Fabian Catholic Church in Farmington Hills. Please register by June 1st; details and registration information can be found on the event registration page. Priests and parish staffs are encouraged to come together.
We look forward to you joining us on June 9th for a day of inspiration and of learning practical ways to adapt our strategies to fit today’s landscape, by warmly welcoming the missing generation back home.