what are some suggestions to how we can make the Mass more relevent to this younger generation? what can we do to encourage youger people to be more engaged and envolved in the Mass?
I think the answer is in good catechesis that instills a living faith. I can’t think of anything that will increase relevance more than understanding what really happens at Mass. Jesus Christ becomes truly present on the altar as He promised, and heaven literally comes to earth. If we aren’t able to accept and focus on that, then everything will immediately be assessed by it’s entertainment value. When the truth of what happens is understood and viewed through the eyes of faith, what could possibly be done to improve it? In fact, it seems to me that many attempts to make liturgies more “relevant,” actually backfire, distracting from, rather than focusing on, the sacred mysteries unfolding before our eyes. There is a crisis, but it’s one of belief, not relevance. Instead of spending precious religious education time on rather generic social agendas, we need to be teaching the faith in it’s fullness. Once we do that effectively, all other concerns about our children will quickly take care of themselves. When we actually “get it,” we are overcome with awe, and all we want to do is to fall to our knees and echo St. Thomas’ “my Lord and my God.”
First of all, if your parish does not have a LifeTeen and/or other programs for younger people, you may want to talk to your pastor about starting up one.
Some churches here in Tucson will have one Mass each weekend called a “youth Mass” or something similar. Teenagers will serve as altar servers, lectors, and EMs. The music will be contemporary as well, with many songs coming from Christian artists as well as contemporary Catholic artists like Matt Maher, Chris Muglia, and Tom Booth. The Masses at a couple churches I know of in town have them Sunday evening.
They use songs/music from “Spirit and Song”–so if you may want to talk to your music ministry about incorporating it. spiritandsong.com
If you live near a college campus, find out if they have a Newman Center (or if it’s a Catholic college–their “university ministry”) and find out what activities they do. I’m not a student at Univ of Arizona, but sometimes do attend Mass at their Newman Center and you can check it out at [ newman.web.arizona.edu](“http:// newman.web.arizona.edu”)
Word of warning, though…some of the more conservative/traditional Catholics on this site will probably not encourage any of the above or aspects of what I said. However, the majority of young people, in my opinion, would never go to a traditional Latin Mass or anything that’s too ‘conservative’–especially in the ‘initial’ stages. You have to meet teenagers and young adults at their level, and bring them in through that route! I know that because I grew up in a ‘conservative’ parish, and when I went to college, if it wasn’t for the masses being geared toward my age group, I wouldn’t have continued going to Mass–so I’m speaking based on my own experience!
I have grown to appreciate the more ‘traditional’ aspects of our faith, but I don’t think I’d be as far along now if it wasn’t for going to these "youth masses’ during college.
God Bless and good luck,
Well, one answer might pretty much be the life-teen masses. But if priests will wear clown noses, sprinkle holy pumpkin juice and give out chocolate chip cookies it would have the same “positive effect”.
So what’s my point? While I think the so called life-teen masses might draw in young people, I don’t think we should have such masses. I think they generally have a negative effect on the people. I would much more prefer good education and thus making sure that by the time a child grows up, they will understand all about mass, the importance of it and the reason why masses are not a social gathering of people to generally have a good time (well, they should have a good time but for an entirely different reason).
50 years ago we didn’t need life-teen masses, why do we need them now?
I concur! I can’t think of anything else that would help younger people come to Mass other than this.
I don’t think a lot of young adults/kids have a good education/foundation of the Catholic Faith. The world has changed since 50 years ago and yes, formation,education, and so on does need to be looked at.
But how do you reach a generation or two of these youth that don’t have that strong foundation/education in our Faith to begin with?? Many young adults are leaving the Catholic Church for other protestant churches that have programs that are designed/geared for them…if we don’t have anything that reaches out to these youth, they’re going to continue to leave.
I’m not saying that priests should be wearing clown noses, sprinkling holy pumpkin juice, and giving out chocolate chip cookies! I have never seen this in my life–not during any Mass I attended at Univ of San Diego (a Catholic university), at the Newman Center at U of A, nor at any Youth Mass that I’ve ever attended. But I don’t think a traditional Latin Rite Mass, for example, is a way that’s going to reel them in.
Catechesis is a good solution. However, how do you convince them to attend catechesis classes? I think the OP is speaking of the late teen and early twenty types, who are in a position where their parents can’t make them attend mass or any type of catechesis. You’re going to have to do something that will attract or draw them back to these kinds of things, be it mass or catechesis.
When I graduated from high school and “left the coop”–I would NOT have voluntarily gone to Mass or to ANY sort of Catechesis on my own. I went to Mass growing up, because I had to. I went to CCD, because I had to. Aside from CCD, there was nothing at my church that was directed toward children/teenagers. When I flew the coop, I would have NOT gone to anything church-related. I know that I was not the only late-teen that felt this way!
Fortunately, for me, I went to a Catholic college (parents were only going to help me financially if I went to a Catholic college) and I made friends who were Catholic and were going to Mass. The Mass had music with guitars, piano, drums, etc., the homilies were geared toward my age group, and then there were things like retreats, social gatherings, WYD '93, and other such things. If it weren’t for these things, I would have had a period of time without going to Mass and so on.
I do think I addressed the OP’s question–because she/he is asking how do you reach out to these young adults–how do you get them interested in Mass and learning more about their faith?
Now I may have gone too much into the “LifeTeen” aspect, but the earlier you catch them, the better! I wish the church that I had grown up in had something like it–I might not had needed the college experiences to have grown and gotten excited about my faith.
The kind of love they can’t find in a bar. The kind of love that reaches out to the poor and the helpless, and invites the teens/twenties to join in and help out.
This kind of love starts OUTSIDE of Mass, when a teacher or sports coach or work associate invites the younger person to come to Church, perhaps by asking them to help with a “love” project, e.g., “We need people to help fill the trucks to help the poor. Please join us.”
Give young people something to do. Make it “necessary” for them to come to Church. If they have a “place” in Church that only they can fill, they will come because they know that they are needed. Make sure that they are MISSED if they don’t come.
I think that’s the biggest value of LifeTeen Masses–the kids do them (they DON’T do the sacred work of the priests! Life Teen Masses are liturgical).
Right now, in many churches, no one knows anyone. Remember Cheers–“I wanna go where everybody knows my name.” It’s true–that’s why people go to bars and nightclubs.
Talk to people before and after Mass. I know, I know, you want to pray and be silent. Well, maybe it’s time we all stopped thinking about what WE want, and started helping others to find salvation. I’m not saying we need to be irreverent and chat up everyone in Church, but there are plenty of times to pray quietly. You have about five minutes before Mass and even less time after Mass to reach out to people and make them feel welcome and loved in Church. It might be that your loving greeting and invitation to a church activity or Bible study will be what “hooks” a young person to keep coming to Church.
Arguing about whether young music and lifestyle is sinful or irreverent is only going to drive them further away. Would YOU want to go somewhere where everyone called your music “bad?” Isn’t that why a lot of traditionalists leave contemporary parishes–because they want to be comfortable in the Mass and hear the kind of music THEY want to hear? Walk in the young person’s shoes for a while; they feel the same way.
The Lord used many different methods to attract people to Himself. He told stories and parables, He preached “fire and brimstone,” He went to synagogue and did the traditional readings, He healed, He went to supper, He ate, He rode in boats, He walked and talked. In the same way, we should use different methods to attract different people to Jesus and His Church.
What will make more younger people come to Mass?
How about their parents?
– Mark L. Chance.
The number one problem in the Church today, dwarfing all other problems combined, is catechesis. Catechesis is the primary role of the Church. All the other things the Church does are wonderful, and necessary. However, the great commission was to “go out and teach.” That is what we are supposed to be doing. We are failing utterly.
Someone mentioned that they only went to mass and CCD because they “had to.” I contend that their failure to be properly catechized was not the result of the improper attitude towards catachesis, but rather it is the BECAUSE they were not being taught AT ALL that they even had this bad attitude.
I’ve been to LIFE Masses and LIFE nights. They do draw teens in, which is a good thing. However, the teachings are generally very weak, which makes them just like every other teaching being done today in the Church.
I don’t know the answer. But I can certainly see the problem.
When I converted, I naively hoped that, now that I’m coming into the Church He sent out to teach all the nations, that I would actually be taught. But from the first day of RCIA, it became apparent to me that the focus was much more about group hugs and pithy sayings than actual education. Here’s a pithy saying that I think sums up the problem: “The blind are leading the blind”
What will make more younger people come to mass? If they understood the mass, you couldn’t make them stay home if you tried to!
"Give me a child for the first seven years and then do what him what you will" --St Thomas Aquinas
I agree and would like to add that the old Mass will draw younger people back to our Church. We can see the circus that most other denomimation’s church service’s are and want to avoid that as it is a cheap imitation of worship. Unite the Church , teach us the revelation of the Mass and Latin. I ask my kids trivia questions on the way to church about what is happening during the Mass and where it came from. It has to start at home, but do the parents/teachers know what to teach? Tim
Hmm lets c… im turning 20 soon and i used to go to mass but i stopped last year although i do consider myself more catholic then any other teen i know. I went to a catholic highschool and i didnt know anyone who actually followed the faith.
- I dont think todays teens want to be told to remain celebate untill marriage, i think that would spoil a saturday night for most.
- its not “cool” to be religious anymore. i remember reading the bible story about the pharrisees who would pray in the streets and fast in public, they were like the “cool” people of their day, total opposite now days. Its now cool to build up muscle at the gym and flex those muscles at a night club while either highly intoxicated or on drugs.
Todays youth only look out for number 1.And the idea that you guys are going to get a growth in teens is laughable.:rotfl:
Sorry to sound pessimistic but any topic regarding the downfall of teens in mass these days makes me angry.
First of all, I think that the older community needs to reach out to the youth better and not fear them or label all teens based on the observations of some.
However, more than anything, I think the key to mass attendance is a better effort by our priests to produce and deliver a more meaningful homily.
How about pandering to them and hiding the Mass behind a distorted and outdated version of “youth culture” complete with laid-back, I’m-one-of-you “with it” priests.
Or maybe not. :rolleyes:
Projecting the faith outside of Mass, especially reinforced by the parents in the household.
My 15-year-old son and I talk about the Faith all the time. The pull for teens now between immoral/amoral society and the moral teachings of Christ is so great for them that they need people they trust to keep them focused on God. It can come in many different forms, and interest in teens can wane, but with heads of households exhibiting and understanding and firmness in their faith to their children, which is done in love, can do much to influence the hearts of teens and could help their desire to attend Mass grow even more.
That…and having good, faithful, Catholic friends (peer influence is very important!)
we don’t have to “do” anything to make the Mass relevant. It is relevant to all times and all peoples. We have to educate people, young and old, as to why this is so. Young people will model old people who understand this and evince it in their own participation at Mass. By the way, an old babushka kneeling quietly in the back pew clutching her rosary may be in deep contemplation and more intensely involved in the Mass than anyone else in the church. Movement, singing, responding are not the only ways to participate listening and above all praying internally especially after reception of communion are the most involved and essential means of participation.
these abuses are not characteristic of LIfeteen. We have a dozen threads discussing Lifeteen, the program and the Mass, so why not keep the discussion over there.
But how do you reach a generation or two of these youth that don’t have that strong foundation/education in our Faith to begin with??
Many young adults are leaving the Catholic Church for other protestant churches that have programs that are designed/geared for them…if we don’t have anything that reaches out to these youth, they’re going to continue to leave.
We have good reason to be concerned about our children’s faith, but the thing to do is shore up the foundation, not dress the windows. If you take a good look at trends in the non-denom evangelical churches, you get a picture of where “designer” worship eventually leads.
The music is judged more by emotional/entertainment/trendiness value than sound doctrine; iconoclasm is raised to an art form —to the point where it’s hard to find a cross anywhere on the property (that symbol brings up so many negative feelings, don’t cha know); even the churches names are de-Christianized, with generic monikers like “Life Center;” preaching is judged more by cleverness, eloquence, and stage presence than by adherence to the truth; churches become high tech theaters with booming sound systems and stage lighting that would do Hollywood proud; preachers deftly avoid any scripture that might expose a subject (sin?) that might be controversial or buck the current cultural trends. Yes, people are flocking to churches following these trends, no doubt making it a wide path to follow.
We need to ask ourselves if this is a road we want to go down. Are these accomodations for those "itchy ears" we've been warned about? When the Truth of Jesus Christ is presented in it's fullness, it has it's own power and focus, and worshipping at mass needs no trendy adornment or marketing angles. (At least not for those who have "ears to hear," and greet the Word with good soil) The saints, our guides and God's friends, tended to become more austere and simple the closer they drew to our Savior. This should tells us something about what to strive for. When the bulldozers show up to try and widen the narrow way, I think we should say "no thanks"
I don’t think it is so much about catechesis (not that this isn’t important) as connectedness. Young people need to mature into an adult faith where Mass (and the Person of Jesus Christ) means something to them on a personal level. If they understand what it is that Jesus offers them (and I don’t just mean lofty "he gave his ALL - his VERY LIFE - for you kinds of platitudes, but something more personal), then they will be willing to come to the table. I think, then, that there is a need for greater introspection in teens rather than mere superficiality. Get them to go deeper and they may find the longings which only Christ can answer. And accomplish this within a genuine sense of community. If people sense that they are unwelcome, unwanted, all alone it will be more challenging for them to take up their cross than if we have support of those who are walking the journey with us.