Making mass more inviting and lively for the young people

Honestly, dumbing down the mass with things like electric guitars, drum sets, and extra stuff would feel insulting to me if I were a teenager. I agree with previous posters: Teach them what the Mass really is, inspire a sense of awe. There’s nothing “extra” you need to do.

Amen. I like all types of music, Jazz, Rock, Folk etc but for Mass it should be Gregorian Chant. The simpler chants are easier to sing and make not so good singers like myslef sound okay :smiley: Chant isn’t like a hymn that (aside from probably being too hard to sing properly) pops up, to me if flows seamlessly with the Mass creating so much exterior but also interior beauty. Its very calming too and a great release from the world. And the texts!!!

What is needed is to inform them better about WHO is inviting them and to WHAT they are being invited.
Mass is NOT a social gathering, it is a Sacrifice that we are invited to participate in.

Problem is most adults don’t understand this!

Simply put, at that time in their life, most are going to be lax. The best way to keep them coming is to keep them involved… as altar servers, musicians, lectors, and ushers. The second most important thing is to have a proper liturgy by the rubrics.

More upbeat musical arrangements have a small impact… but if they are looking for a christian rock concert disguised as Mass, they are likely to find better music at the nearest “MegaChurch” protestant/evangeical bible thumping.

“Dumbing down”? Why do you say that? Can’t a higher tempo music style actually be spiritually uplifting?

And why can’t teens learn about Mass and experience the music at the same time?

There was a time that Mass was celebrated before the organ was used. Does an organ or piano also “dumb down” the Mass?

As I stated earlier, my concern has little to do with the music style. It has more to do with what ultimately draws these kids to Mass and which of these two enjoys greater focus???

Rock music scarred me away from the mass for 12 years. The only mass promoted to me were these vibrant youth masses which I found to be quite corny and phony.

Why hasn’t anyone tried selling a reverent mass to us? Why is that if I want to hang out with other Catholic youth, I have to like rock music and clapping hands at mass?

Why does the older generation think this is the only way? Why don’t they realize that they are pushing away many kids with this method?

Yes, and the Tridentine Mass is certainly Spirit Filled and Joyful, that is why the Pope is so keen on expanding its use :thumbsup:.

Teach us the importance of the Mass, as the Sacrifice of Cross. That’s what we need. Not ‘funky’, ‘up to date’ guitar playing.

This is pretty much what I was getting at, thanks Freshman :smiley:

Mass isn’t a place for rock guitars, clapping, and dumbed down lyrics. (Sorry, the only songs I’ve heard at this masses really are just silly)

How can you teach them about the Mass when they’re not there? :confused:

You have to get them there first, everyone. Right?

Or are you perhaps suggesting some kind of “intervention,” in which the teens are snatched and driven to a camp in the middle of nowhere, and for the next 72 hours are made to listen to teachings about the Catholic Mass?

Just joking, of course. But I’m serious about my question about exactly how you plan to teach them about the Mass when they don’t attend.

And when you think about it, there’s a good chance that their parents might be under-educated, too, since most teenagers in existence right now are children of 40-somethings who have no memory of Pre-Vatican II days, and are perhaps themselves are very “liberal-leaning” thanks to poor catechesis.

So what are you going to do to bring them back to Mass and to keep them at Mass? I am very interested in hearing your ideas and so it the OP.

For that matter, getting them to Mass won’t do anything to teach them about the Mass, since Mass isn’t a “teaching time.” So what we’re actually talking about here is getting them to some kind of “class” or “group” or “study,” or perhaps making them watch a “movie” or “DVD” or possibly even convincing them to read a book about Mass.

How are you going to do that?


I appreciate that there are teenagers who dislike rock music and “modern” Masses. I think they should be respected.

But with all due respect to these teens, I think they are a minority.

In our city, we have had TLM since the mid 1980s. Not too many teens attend–the ones that attend are the ones from home-schooling families who have very traditional preferences and life-styles. That’s wonderful.

But the TLM does not attract a lot of non-homeschooled teenagers. Yes, there is a schola. Teenagers do not attend. There is plenty of traditional “mystery” in this Mass, which is done by the Christ the King priests. But the teenagers do not come. The old church where the TLM is held is breath-takingly beautiful, loaded with images and color and light. But the teenagers do not attend.

Our parish has a Life Teen Mass, a reverent one. There is no gathering around the altar and no shenanigans. The only way you would know it is a Life Teen Mass is because of the music. Hundreds of teens attend this Mass and the study in the church basement that is held after the Mass.

In our city, there is a teen group (interdenominational) called Cross Current that meets on Wednesday nights and features a full rock band. Thousands of teens attend, including hundreds of Catholics.

There is a megachurch in our city, a church plant by the Willowcreek Association in Barrington. There is a full rock band consisting of professional, experienced musicians. Many thousands of teens attend.

So I have a hard time, everyone, with those who claim that teenagers will flock to a TLM and will reject “modern” trappings. I’m sorry, but I don’t see it happening here. I’m not sure why it happens in your city but not ours. I wonder if it would happen in the OPs city or town. :confused: Maybe it would work. It’s worth a try.

Anything is worth a try when we’re talking about the souls of our young people.

To the OP–I don’t think you should worry about music or lively preaching or Latin or mysterious atmospheres or rock bands or anything external. I think the way to attract teenagers to Mass is to show them that they are LOVED, and to demonstrate this love to them in practical, visible ways.

One thing that worked really well in our college (NIU) is when one of the local churches hand-delivered small bags of home-made cookies to the dorms (thousands of students received these cookies). No strings attached–just cookies. But hundreds of college students visited the church that gave them these cookies, and several dozen became members of this church, not just because of a one-time cookie gift, but because the older people who belonged to this church SHOWERED US with love, food, hugs, visits to their homes, and all the loving “family” things that young people desperately need. REAL genuine agape LOVE will bring the teens to your Mass.

Another way to get teens and young people to your parish is to allow them to work and serve the Lord. If they are “needed” and their work is important, they will be there to fulfill their responsibility. Now I realize that you really don’t need several dozen altar boys or a few dozen ushers! But is there some way that the parish can involve the young people and teenagers in vital volunteer projects in the community; e.g., helping the poor and homeless, re-habbing old schools, holding a Daddy-Daughter/Mother-Son prom, or perhaps a prom for grandparents, doing pro-life prayer vigils if you have an abortion mill in your town (lots of our parish’s young people get involved with this), etc.?

There are also bigger projects outside of your community; e.g., short-term mission trips to conduct vacation Bible schools among poor children, building projects (e.g., in New Orleans), etc.

These kinds of service opportunities are a draw for young people who want desperately to contribute something good to the world. These kinds of projects even attract non-Catholic kids who want to help out–e.g., our parish does the “Car Wash for Life” project, in which all the monies are donated to our local crisis pregnancy center (prolife), and kids who are PROTESTANT join them in this effort!

God bless you for having a heart for young people!

I am 17, and i say this is stupid.

We go to mass to experience Christ with others and receive him into our bodies through Eucharist.

Where I live, there are around 3 others my age (within my parish) that regularly attend mass, and understand what it is really about.

Others my age who cannot even sacrifice an hour on a Sunday or Saturday, to experience the true God and grow closer to him, needs to be educated onto why we do what we do. The problem therefore lies with the parents, as well as peer pressure.

Catholic schools do not help, due to peer pressure, this goes for the teachers as well, who often don’t attend mass at all, unless the school makes them.

If you have kids, educate them, and BE STRICT on what the church teaches, don’t lock them inside forever but always go over with them what we teach and why. I cannot stress this enough. I am 17, and I say this, because my parents have been strict on me, and through it I have understood that God is more important in life then parties, sex and drugs.

You’ll find that most of these kids going to the HUGE youth masses run by evangelicals and what not, are just as bad as the secular kids who don’t attend. For instance, I know one of these kids who invited me to a HUGE youth festival, (non-catholic), and a week after the gathering, he was in class sharing porn on his laptop with fellow students.

On top of this, some mates I go to school with, who are not religious, went to this HUGE youth meet, and chatted up girls who were there. These girls went along with it and “hooked” up with them.

I am not saying that ALL these huge non-catholic youth meets are bad, but from what I have seen, they don’t help young people like myself, come closer to God.

World Youth Day in Sydney was probably the ONLY youth gathering in which I noticed the majority of young people getting closer to God. But even then, there were many rotten apples trying to spoil the bunch.

Excellent suggestions, Cat, especially with the cookies. Teens like food :smiley: All kidding aside, I like your ideas very much.

I didn’t know many Catholics until I came to college. Whle here, I’ve met some very dedicated ones, and many who are extremely apathetic. The apathetic ones say that a.) the Church has too many rules, and they don’t want to deal with it, or b.) they don’t feel anything. For the latter group, perhaps they need to try the TLM, spend time in adoration and prayer, or get involved with serving others. In regards to group a types, I think a story will better illustrate.

know a group a person who grew up Catholic, went to Catholic schools k-12, and late in high school/early in college declared himself a “Christian anarchist,” in that he was a Christian, but didn’t believe in the rules and structure. He stopped attending Mass unless his parents made him, and he did his own thing. He and I spent a great deal of time together, and during this time he witnessed my journey towards the Catholic Church. (I was Protestant when we met), He saw how happy and uplifted I was, and thought that was pretty cool. I made sure to tell him how much was lacking in the Protestant churches I attended, and how I never really felt God’s presence until I went to Mass. Later, he spent some time researching what other Christian groups believe, and he told me, “after I really did some research, I realized that there is no way I could be anything besides Catholic. Nothing else feels right or makes sense.” This young man now attends Mass much more frequently (not every week, yet), and he is moving in the right direction.

My point is that young people, with good influences in their lives and education, can return to the Catholic Church. The novelty of the Protestant churches (and certain trappings) wears thin, and people once again begin to look for something deeper and more fulfilling. It may take a while, but it does happen. Also, don’t be afraid to evangelize in a loving manner. Having an open dialogue with people can work wonders.

Oh, and this young man just happens to be my boyfriend. Needless to say, I was happy to hear about his decision. :slight_smile:

What people at mega-churches are excited about is getting excited.

Isn’t the Body and Blood of Christ enough to get excited over?

It’s up to the people in the kid’s life to help them. But the example of other youth is the ultimate cure. After reverting to my faith many of my friends who respected me began to ask why it is that I have come to believe. I give them my answer, I engage them in a lively discussion and I like to think that most leave with something to mull over in their mind. Being in a secular university and hanging out with a not so great crowd I found that all they know about the Church is built upon lies and misconceptions. After repeat discussions I’ve had several friends ask to come to mass with me.

So it’s up to us to get them in. We need to lead by example and engage with our non-catholic friends (and not retreat) so we can show the Gospel by example. Many will see this, and they will respect it and ultimately begin to ask questions even if its just out of curiosity, boredom or simply making conversation. It is these moments and discussions that get kids interested.

If only I were a better Christian, and didn’t care so much about what others thought - then perhaps I would be of better service.

How are you going to do that?
I appreciate that there are teenagers who dislike rock music and “modern” Masses. I think they should be respected.
But with all due respect to these teens, I think they are a minority.

The TLM could be the solution for some though. Teen life masses could be for some as well. ** Both are in the minority**.

Although I speak simply from experience. I’m a big guy, and because of that my whole life I was hammered by coaches to play in various sports. I was even pretty successful. But with the student-athlete life can come a lot of pressure. I would hang out with the wrong crowds, I did do many things I regret and I still struggle with. If you talk to these kids and live with them as I do (the ones who are into getting tanked on the weekend or going around picking fights, doing drugs, or whatever we happen to get our hands on) the last thing they can relate to is a youth service. These guys are having a lot of fun doing what they are doing, and a youth service isn’t going to attract them. No service is. It’s their friends and family that have to make the difference.

The problem is when we rely solely on these modern youth services and see it as the only solution. Most of my friends share my sentimentalites, they find these services to be too corny/ phony for them. So where else do they go?

We have no where else to go, because the adults organizing these events for whatever reason believe that modern music, hand gestures, props or what have you will get the kids excited. Simply not true, these are young adults and they are varied in their tastes just as much as older adults are.

Instead we should simply offer your average catholic mass, but it’s the activies in and around the mass that will keep the kids going, plus the fact that it will be mostly kids at the service.

If we were just to offer normal masses, no one would be ostracized from these servicves. Instead we would be working with these kids to help them appreciate the mass that they will come across in their travels, which is nothing more then what I call your average, slightly conservative NO mass.

Having a focus on music will only discriminate against all the youth that hate that particular music. Music shouldn’t be the focus point, our tastes in music are way too numerous. If this ends up being the selling point, more kids will be turned off.

Like I said above, getting kids interested comes from personal interactions and seeing your example. I’m only starting to realize this now, but as much as my friends will ridicule me and tease me for my faith, they really do respect you for it at the end of the day. This alone gets them asking. In your discussions you may talk about different forms of mass, if you have the opportunity (obviously you shouldn’t start a convo with, “hey jon, what are your thoughts on ad orientem vs ad populus?”.

The first youth group I was involved with was Communion and Liberation University (CLU). What got me in? Well, one of the guys noticed I was Catholic, he seemed a pretty cool guy and just asked that I checked it out. I came out, and there were about 10 of us, all 18-22, reading and studying a book with no adults whatsoever. The experience was overwhelming. These kids were engaging in a vibrant book, sharing their personal experiences while putting no pressure on anyone else. Needless to say this group is booming at our university and they offer no kind of special mass except ‘your average Catholic mass’. They also offer oppertunties to help the poor and less fortunate, to simply hang out and have fun - but they never shove done any kind of worship service. They simple hold the odd monthly mass, and plenty show up. After taking these classes kids just want to go, they don’t care if they hate the music or not, they understand why it is the way it is and it was all because of the efforts of their peers and family.

But we must also pray, pray, pray! At the end of the day we have to remember that a conversion is only possible by the grace of God.

Well, try to make church a little bit more accessable to children. I remembered when i was about 9 i went to a seminary with my parents. Coincidently my cousins and one of friends also went. I slightly remember people praising god, talking about their experience, singing along every now and then. To adults, i had no idea what they were thinking then. Me and my friends dubbed it the legendary 8 hour thing. It was longer than 8 hours but still. When you have a couple of 9 and 8 year olds silently write out a plan for escape of that place, thats when you know things are bad. When they nearly execute the plan, but when one of the mom’s had to leave, everyone joined in, thanking God she had a SUV that is worse. When even 8 years later, it is still called the legendary 8 hour thing, and when ever a seminary is mentioned, they try to figure out the date of if, and plan a united excuse to not to go, that is horrible. We still go to church every sunday, and get confessions, but still. The lesson learned is (DON’T TAKE YOUR YOUNG CHILDREN TO OVERLY LONG AND BORING SEMINARY’S, IT CAN TRAUMATIZED THEM) (anything that is longer than a hour, and has something to do with church is avoided like it is the plague, and one of my friends wants to study deadly viruses, when he goes to college, but said he won’t go to the another seminary no matter what):eek:

why, was it so horrible, we didn’t really understand what the people in the seminary were saying. But, we are too terrified of experiencing that type of slow boredom ever again.

Oddly enough, another one of my friends went to a seminary when he was 16 years old and loved it. He goes to church as much as possible, and a lot of the church events. He tries to bring us to the events, but that is one of they few things i can say no to.

Huh, maybe it was because of the age difference when we had our first experience with these special church events?

This is all excellent advice. I agree, nothing is as effective as a personal testimony and the life to back it up.

The local Anglican church has fewer adults that attend their "regular "service than the local catholic service. But the Anglican church puts on a youth service each Sunday night with contemporary music and less formality attracts and atracts 50-60 teenagers every week. The catholic church is lucky if there are a dozen of those in the same age group that attend the catholic services.

Part of the answer might be to educate the catholic youth on what the mass is all about but as has been posted on this thread before you need to actually get them there in the first place. If the anglicans can reach out and do it then there must be some hope that Catholics can too.

IMHO attendance went down when we started entertaining those in the pew. Attendance goes up and we get more converts when we teach the true meaning of the Mass and the Eucharist.

i agree i must admit i find the music at my local parish sometimes so slow and i get so frustrated i’m in my late 20’s i sometimes long for the music of the fundamentalist churches i grew up in but i would never go back just for the music though i’m sure there could be a balance with having modern music and retaining the reverence of the mass

but hey that’s just my opinion

The Protestant services will always have more superficial elements that the Catholic Liturgy. Why? Because that is all the Protestants have, Superficiality. The Catholic Liturgy has Substance, Divine Substance.

Pope John Paul called for active silence in the liturgy, for us, as Catholic to be counter cultural in our value of silent introspection in our liturgy.

That is what our teens need to be taught.

Form youth groups, play lots of J.M. Talbot (that’s what we did). Use the attendance there to teach them that the Mass is not worldly, but otherworldly, and there fore demands otherworldly behavior.

That’s what our youth group taught me. We rocked with the best of them, but were silent at Mass.

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