Why/How You're Losing Members, and Some Suggestions......


#1

My own family provides a kind of view on what’s going on alot of the time in middle to slightly upper-middle class Catholic families (or families who are trying to be Catholic) in suburban America today. My father went out of his way to send myself and my sibs to all Catholic school(s) where we were of course taught everything you wanted to know about the religion. All for a hefty fee of course. We all were taken to Mass as kids, every week, and didn’t really have a “choice” in the matter. We grew up seeing Pope John Paul II in pictures in our house , and on TV, etc etc. (may he RIP).
Well, now, at 26, my one sister is an agnostic I guess. She practices no religion. Won’t even go to Mass on Christmas or Easter. She says the key reason is / was the ongoing scandal problem(s) in the Church, amongst other personal “dogmatic difficulties”. The other sister is , * technically * I think still a Catholic although she’s definitely not practicing. She’s a teacher at a Catholic elem.school so she has to attend masses w/her kids occasionally, as part of the job. Personally though, she says she does not consider herself a Catholic , and says she is much more in tune with a sort of “mixture” of Reform Judaism and Buddhism.
I was “agnostic” leaning toward atheist for quite awhile. Lately I’ve been trying to go back to the Church where I grew up , but I don’t know if I could call myself a true Catholic per se. I mean, I am still one , technically, I realize. I admire the Church’s art, its “aesthetics”, if you know what I mean, and I like the fact that it is the only Christian church wherein one can legitimately direct prayers right to various manifestations of the Virgin Mary, or to any number of these (sometimes almost “occultish”) folk’ish “patron saints”, etc.etc. I have read that some of the Protestant denominations hold that against Catholics, but to me it’s a selling point, because it does smack of ancient pre-Christian Europe’s paganism in certain ways ( mother worship, local “protector” deities, personal deities, etc etc). Which I like.
But, anyway, some suggestions on why you’ve lost, or are losing, so many members, particularly amongst the young. Firstly, the “evangelical” churches are fun. I disagree with their “Jesus-only” theology, and they wouldn’t be for me, but I’ve watched them on TV (TBN for instance). The kids are truly involved, and truly into it. The numbers I see in those churches and arenas and what-have-you on those kinds of TV shows would smoke the numbers I’ve seen in my local Catholic church when I’ve gone. Alot of times the Catholic church by our house looks and sounds more like a rest home when you go there on a Sunday morning.
The Catholic mass is often about as much fun, about as “engaging” let’s say (particularly to the young) as sitting around all night at a wake for a distant elderly relative you barely know might be. The doctrines from Rome are too socially stiff also. I’m not saying there should be married priests, or even female priests; I agree with the Church on that. But no birth control?? Are ya’ nuts??? And how many Catholics really adhere to that anyway ?? The old doctrine that the “only way to salvation is through the Church” ?? Disgustingly religiously bigoted. The generally anti-gay stance? That’s not flying anymore either, as you can tell. Society , particularly here in the West, has been far too indoctrinated for far too long by the (yes let’s face it) “Left wing-dominated” mass media. Each generation is getting more and more “liberal” than the next. And, if the Catholic Church doesn’t change, it’s going to be a real minority amongst the Christian denominations in fifty years, simply because it’s losing the youth. Any organization knows it needs the youth. And, at least around here, I do NOT see the youth getting remotely involved in the local Catholic church. All I see them doing is simply going to CCD (Sunday school) if their parents make them, and / or getting through 8th grade and their Confirmation, and then just forgetting it. Or, if they “get religion” in their later teens or early 20’s, and they stay Christian, it almost always seems like they go “evangelical”. The “evangelical Protestant” movement is what’s really killin’ ya… in my opinion.


#2

I went to World Youth Day and saw hundreds of thousands of kids have fun and embracing the faith. I would suggest you look at the reasons we forbid artificial contraception esp. read about the theology of the body. It will also explain why we don’t agree with homosexuality. The catechism is a good place to start for questions like that. We can also help you here.

Mass is not meant to be “fun”. We are not there to be entertained. It is far to important for that. I think it is a matter of expectations. Also we need to celebrate Mass with the dignity that is due it. We fail sometimes on that. I agree we need to work on our youth programs and catechesis. You are right on that. I think we are improving, but not fast enough.


#3

Your post demonstrates why we’re losing members…and gaining members…

You may have been taught “everything” about being Catholic…
You may have gone through the motions of being Catholic…

But you obviously fail to truly comprehend what it means to be Catholic. Knowing and Understanding aren’t the same thing.

a. You don’t comprehend what takes place at the sacrifice of the mass.

b. You don’t comprehend the Real Presence

c. You don’t comprehend the difference between ‘worship’ and ‘liturgy’

d. You don’t comprehend God’s plan for mankind

e. You don’t comprehend Jesus being God on earth **and **being The Word

f. Therefore, you don’t comprehend The Word of God as revealed through Scripture and Tradition.

IF you comprehended any of those, you would still be an active, faithful Catholic.

Do not despair, however, because Understsanding, Wisdom, Counsel are gifts of the Holy Spirit. Gifts you received at your confirmation.

If you really want to understand what is happening with the youth today you will go to confession and begin reading up on the writings of the Early Church Fathers and the Bible, while reading up on what the Mass ‘really’ is about. Pray that the Holy Spirit fortify your mind and soul to open your heart to His teachings. Join a ministry group at a local parish (St. Vincent De Paul, for example) and within months you’ll be transformed.

The veil distorting your vision will be lifted and you will be brought into the Light, the Truth and the Way.

Once you get why our liturgy is structured the way it is, the ‘fun’ of the evangelical worship services pale in comparison. Those who have read the Early Fathers have come home to the Catholic Church. You can, too. And when you do, you’ll be surprised how many young adults really are on fire for the Lord within the Catholic Traditions.

We will keep you in our prayers for support. I really hope you’ll welcome this opportunity to begin your personal faith journey with Christ.


#4

First, you make it sound as though it’s a competition for numbers. It’s not. The Church won’t bend truths in order to fill pews (unlike some other churches). So, let’s just set that to rest.

Second, truth is not relative. If birth control (as an example you used) was wrong yesterday, guess what? It will be wrong today as well. I personally like that about the Church. If that turns people away, then so be it.

Third, you make the Church sound as though it was the big bore at the party. I’m sorry that’s how you see things. Many Catholics feel completely the opposite however. How? Why? Maybe it’s a spiritual thing. I’m sorry that you don’t understand. I’ll pray that some day you will. Take care and God bless.


#5

This is why I’m making a point and taking time out to discuss the Faith with my sons. My middle one and I had a wonderful discussion tonight about purgatory, indulgences, and salvation through the teachings of Christ and His Church. It’s a joy to see his face light up with understanding, knowing that he’s gaining wisdom day-by-day.

I can name probably 2-dozen Catholics that are Catholic “in-name-only” (INO) - compared to the less than 1/2 a dozen who understand what the Church teaches and are trying to live it out the best way they can. “Knowing” the Lord and “knowing about” the Lord are two different things entirely.


#6

next week we will confirm our smallest high school class since I have been here. Every year the class gets smaller as we lose kids to their other commitments-sports, academics, whatever, and their parents do not even offer them the opportunity to learn about the wonders the Holy Spirit has in store for them.

We also are gaining a repution as a strict, demanding, orthodox program that teaches the truth, complete and entire without compromise, and puts our young people to work serving the kingdom.

We are in direct contrast to 2 neighboring parishes, one based on Lifeteen, the “fun” Mass, and the other based on social justice (their major confirmation service project is busing their kids to picket the bishop’s office and residence and public events such as ordinations demanding women priests, and protesting other issues). They are trying hard to be “relevant” pushing the DaVinci code as a serious bible study topic for instance. They have one of the largest Confirmation classes in the diocese, and their parish is in utter turmoil, a public scandal.

However, every year a larger number of teens come back after Confirmation to study apologetics, form prayer groups, lead small faith sharing groups with their peers, assist in CCD, serve in parish ministries, and evangelize on their campuses and in the neighborhoods. I have just learned that we have two potential priestly vocations in discernment at this moment from this group, and one young lady is already living in a convent discerning a vocation.

Did I mention our parish is building a new Church with 5 times the seating capacity of our current building to accommodate our current and projected growth? We also will welcome our largest group of RCIA baptisms at Easter to date, and our largest adult confirmation class on Pentecost. All these people are already involved in parish life and ministry and in various lay apostolates in the community. Many of these adults have come to our RCIA from surrounding parishes, disappointed in the wishy-washy watered down message they were getting, attracted by our pastor’s long, theologically complex sermons delivered in an uncompromising manner. They come seeking the truth and they find it.


#7

When my wife first entered a Catholic church, it was on the occasion of my mothers funeral Mass. (I had not been to Mass for years until then) Afterwards she mentioned how she felt that Jesus was really present inside. (She was a member of the Church of Christ.) To make a long story short, we both attended RCIA, had our previous marriages annuled, she became a convert, and I became a re-vert. If people think they have to be entertained at church, then let them find one that has big screens, a 10 piece band, dancers, automatic healing at the drop of a hat, and plenty of emotionalism, that’s fine. That’s not for me, and never will be. If a person can’t “feel good” after Mass knowing they have had their sins forgiven (confession) and receiving the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion, then they have a real problem.


#8

[quote=TheBigQ]My own family provides a kind of view on what’s going on alot of the time in middle to slightly upper-middle class Catholic families (or families who are trying to be Catholic) in suburban America today. My father went out of his way to send myself and my sibs to all Catholic school(s) where we were of course taught everything you wanted to know about the religion. All for a hefty fee of course. We all were taken to Mass as kids, every week, and didn’t really have a “choice” in the matter. We grew up seeing Pope John Paul II in pictures in our house , and on TV, etc etc. (may he RIP).
Well, now, at 26, my one sister is an agnostic I guess. She practices no religion. Won’t even go to Mass on Christmas or Easter. She says the key reason is / was the ongoing scandal problem(s) in the Church, amongst other personal “dogmatic difficulties”. The other sister is , *technically *I think still a Catholic although she’s definitely not practicing. She’s a teacher at a Catholic elem.school so she has to attend masses w/her kids occasionally, as part of the job. Personally though, she says she does not consider herself a Catholic , and says she is much more in tune with a sort of “mixture” of Reform Judaism and Buddhism.
I was “agnostic” leaning toward atheist for quite awhile. Lately I’ve been trying to go back to the Church where I grew up , but I don’t know if I could call myself a true Catholic per se. I mean, I am still one , technically, I realize. I admire the Church’s art, its “aesthetics”, if you know what I mean, and I like the fact that it is the only Christian church wherein one can legitimately direct prayers right to various manifestations of the Virgin Mary, or to any number of these (sometimes almost “occultish”) folk’ish “patron saints”, etc.etc. I have read that some of the Protestant denominations hold that against Catholics, but to me it’s a selling point, because it does smack of ancient pre-Christian Europe’s paganism in certain ways ( mother worship, local “protector” deities, personal deities, etc etc). Which I like.
But, anyway, some suggestions on why you’ve lost, or are losing, so many members, particularly amongst the young. Firstly, the “evangelical” churches are fun. I disagree with their “Jesus-only” theology, and they wouldn’t be for me, but I’ve watched them on TV (TBN for instance). The kids are truly involved, and truly into it. The numbers I see in those churches and arenas and what-have-you on those kinds of TV shows would smoke the numbers I’ve seen in my local Catholic church when I’ve gone. Alot of times the Catholic church by our house looks and sounds more like a rest home when you go there on a Sunday morning.
The Catholic mass is often about as much fun, about as “engaging” let’s say (particularly to the young) as sitting around all night at a wake for a distant elderly relative you barely know might be. The doctrines from Rome are too socially stiff also. I’m not saying there should be married priests, or even female priests; I agree with the Church on that. But no birth control?? Are ya’ nuts??? And how many Catholics really adhere to that anyway ?? The old doctrine that the “only way to salvation is through the Church” ?? Disgustingly religiously bigoted. The generally anti-gay stance? That’s not flying anymore either, as you can tell. Society , particularly here in the West, has been far too indoctrinated for far too long by the (yes let’s face it) “Left wing-dominated” mass media. Each generation is getting more and more “liberal” than the next. And, if the Catholic Church doesn’t change, it’s going to be a real minority amongst the Christian denominations in fifty years, simply because it’s losing the youth. Any organization knows it needs the youth. And, at least around here, I do NOT see the youth getting remotely involved in the local Catholic church. All I see them doing is simply going to CCD (Sunday school) if their parents make them, and / or getting through 8th grade and their Confirmation, and then just forgetting it. Or, if they “get religion” in their later teens or early 20’s, and they stay Christian, it almost always seems like they go “evangelical”. The “evangelical Protestant” movement is what’s really killin’ ya… in my opinion.
[/quote]

Do you know that ALL Christian denominations where against birth control until about 1935. and then the CC was the only one to keep with the bible.


#9

You have to realize that although we are adults here on earth, we are but mere children to God. I know from my own childhood, that there were many times my parents told me what to do or what not to do and I had no understanding of the reasons, but rest assured, they had their reasons. Same holds true with God and we may never know the reasons until much later in life or until we return home to him.

Think of the Church as a surrogate parent. And like any good parent, they set rules and stick to those rules. They do this to protect and nurture their children into becoming healthy, responsible adults. The parents who give into the desires of the children aren’t looking out for their best interests and don’t have their long term needs in mind. Same holds true for churches. I don’t want a church to yeild to my will and desires. I want a church that stays the course in spite of outside pressures because they know what’s best. There are many rules that I might not understand the reasoning, but I obey, because I know a) there is a reason, and b) it is what our Father wants.

One more analogy and I’m done. Do you want to be the dog whose master lets him out with no restraint only to be hit by a car or do you want to be the dog whose master lets him out in a yard with a fence to keep him from straying too far, thus keeping him safe? I know it’s a bit much, but you get the picture.

Rick


#10

FIRST OF ALL:

W E L C :wave: M E to the forum

[font=Verdana]One big problem, as I (the convert) see it, is Catholics are Catechized but never Evangelized.[/font]

Many of us just go through the motions of being Catholic. Only when we put Christ as the center of our lives, does all that we do as Catholics make sense.

There is a big difference between **Christianity and Churchianity.
**


#11

And, if the Catholic Church doesn’t change, it’s going to be a real minority amongst the Christian denominations in fifty years, simply because it’s losing the youth. Any organization knows it needs the youth.

Too bad you weren’t at my parish a couple Sundays ago when we had 110 seminarians there from our local seminary. All fine young men with Christ in their hearts and hopes for the future of a Church that, as G. K. Chesterton put it: “does not move with the world, but moves the world.”

You aren’t the first person to pronounce the death pall over the Church if it didn’t adopt the spirit of the age. Various spirits of the age have come and gone and the Church is still here–still preaching the real Gospel, still ministering to people, still providing the Sacraments for our benefit. It’s Christ’s Church, not ours. And as long as he remains with it, nothing mere men can do will “improve” it or destroy it. :wink:


#12

[quote=TheBigQ] Firstly, the “evangelical” churches are fun. I disagree with their “Jesus-only” theology, and they wouldn’t be for me, but I’ve watched them on TV (TBN for instance). The kids are truly involved, and truly into it. The numbers I see in those churches and arenas and what-have-you on those kinds of TV shows would smoke the numbers I’ve seen in my local Catholic church when I’ve gone. Alot of times the Catholic church by our house looks and sounds more like a rest home when you go there on a Sunday morning.
The Catholic mass is often about as much fun, about as “engaging” let’s say (particularly to the young) as sitting around all night at a wake for a distant elderly relative you barely know might be. The doctrines from Rome are too socially stiff also. I’m not saying there should be married priests, or even female priests; I agree with the Church on that. But no birth control?? Are ya’ nuts??? And how many Catholics really adhere to that anyway ?? The old doctrine that the “only way to salvation is through the Church” ?? Disgustingly religiously bigoted. The generally anti-gay stance? That’s not flying anymore either, as you can tell. Society , particularly here in the West, has been far too indoctrinated for far too long by the (yes let’s face it) “Left wing-dominated” mass media. Each generation is getting more and more “liberal” than the next. And, if the Catholic Church doesn’t change, it’s going to be a real minority amongst the Christian denominations in fifty years, simply because it’s losing the youth. Any organization knows it needs the youth.
[/quote]

Are we created in God’s image and likeness or are we creating God in our image and likeness? This about truth not popularity. So your going to say to God “Sorry God all these things you stated were sins, well it’s not really politically correct anymore and it’s not very inclusive. We’ve taken a vote and the popular concensus is many of your teachings are not keeping up with the modern times.” What?!?!

The Church is not a social club. It’s not about warm fuzzy feelings. This is about loving and serving God. About worshipping our creator not worshipping modern pop-psychology. Mass is not Sunday morning entertainment, through the Mass we are made present to Jesus’ crucifixtion on Calvery. We are in the awesome presence of God not a rock concert.

Truth is truth and it doesn’t change because people don’t like it.

By the way our parish boasts over 110 alter boys, youth participation really deosn’t seem to be the problem. Actually it’s the younger Catholics that seem the most on fire for the faith these days. The biggest problems seemed to be from the 60’s and 70’s generations.


#13

[quote=rayne89] The biggest problems seemed to be from the 60’s and 70’s generations.
[/quote]

I’m from the 70’s and 80’s generations and I can whole-heartedly attest to that one! In fact I was one of the lost. A lot of that was the free thinking spawned in the 60s, but that was also the time of Vatican II, which had some to do with it. I think many of the older Catholics were left disillusioned by Vatican II and the teaching of the younger generation was greatly tempered during this time while they dealt with their own issues.

This is only my gut feeling on the matter. I could be way off base for all I know. :rolleyes:


#14

I couldn’t disagree more. I came from Evangelical churches and the REASON I converted to the Cahtolic Church is because of much of what you’d like to see changed. No thanks. I love the Church for everything it stands for. I believe I am truly following God here… Isn’t that the point? To belong to a church that teaches the truth about God… rather than one that bends to the whims of society?

Please learn more about your faith. It is honestly the most beautiful thing… the Evangelicals can’t hold a candle to it.
(ha! no pun intended!) :slight_smile:


#15

In my first parish we had a novus ordo Latin Mass one Sunday as a special event. A lot of kids came! We had Lifeteen and it flopped. I find that the kids that are really active are those who are “conservative”. They also tend to be most interested in vocations.


#16

[quote=TheBigQ]The doctrines from Rome are too socially stiff also. I’m not saying there should be married priests, or even female priests; I agree with the Church on that. But no birth control?? Are ya’ nuts??? And how many Catholics really adhere to that anyway ?? The old doctrine that the “only way to salvation is through the Church” ?? Disgustingly religiously bigoted. The generally anti-gay stance? That’s not flying anymore either, as you can tell. Society , particularly here in the West, has been far too indoctrinated for far too long by the (yes let’s face it) “Left wing-dominated” mass media. Each generation is getting more and more “liberal” than the next. And, if the Catholic Church doesn’t change, it’s going to be a real minority amongst the Christian denominations in fifty years, simply because it’s losing the youth. . . . The “evangelical Protestant” movement is what’s really killin’ ya… in my opinion.
[/quote]

But evangelical Protestants are generally conservative. Not (with some notable exceptions) on birth control, I admit. But on homosexuality and many other issues.

Generally speaking, churches grow because they challenge people. Obviously if a church is too extreme, it will turn people off. But the more common problem these days is the opposite.

The average Catholic parish is struggling because it combines the worst of both worlds. The teachings are strict enough that people have trouble with them, but they are not presented in a challenging, dynamic, exciting way–indeed more often than not priests soft-pedal the Church’s teachings and present them in as minimal a form as possible. Being Catholic is often seen as a lot of rules and regulations rather than (as it could be) a difficult adventure.

The folks on this board are, by and large, a wonderful exception to this.

Sorry if this sounds patronizing coming from a non-Catholic. I am a veteran of RCIA and do have some direct knowledge of what I’m talking about.

Edwin


#17

While I agree the Church is losing much of the youth, and I am supportive of contraception, gay rights, and the like (not abortion), I would lose far more respect for the Church if it became hypocritical and changed all it’s teachings. I’m agnostic, but if I believed there was an almighty God out there, I would definately try to live my life by his ways. How much sense does it make to say “I’m Christian and I believe in Jesus and God and Heaven because the Bible says so but obviously the rest of the Bible isnt true and isn’t literal”? That wouldn’t make sense…if you believe that the Bible is truth, that Jesus is truth, it only makes sense for you to follow it. Contraception I can see where the confusion would be because I don’t feel that’s explicitly stated in the Bible although birth control pills can kill which is murder from a religious point of view. But there are clear references to gay activity being wrong, etc. So how much sense does it make to say “well God didnt like gays back then and he didnt like premarital sex back then but now since society changed he does.” What kind of God would that be? If you’re going to believe in a God, you have to believe in His rules, or I can’t see how your faith would be very solid. I don’t see anything wrong with Catholic Churches ‘perking up’ their mass with more upbeat hymns etc, but worship isn’t about being fun, it’s about being sacrificial. Protestant Churches just break off and make their own rules. Other Christian religions, like Baptists, just break off and make their own ‘gay-hating’ Church or some other Church. If I was going to be a Christian, I would definately be a Catholic, because it seems to be the only Church listening to the Bible anymore.


#18

[quote=Tietjen] First,…The Church won’t bend truths in order to fill pews (unlike some other churches)…
[/quote]

Dear Tietjen:

Is thats the reason Catholic church did amend her stance towards “once God’s choosen people-Jews” after 2000 years?

[quote=Tietjen] Second, truth is not relative.
[/quote]

Dear Tietjen:

If by “truth”, you meant the Universal Truths which are naturally common in all sincere human beings of all faith/non-fiath people, then most certainly this truth is not relative.

But if by “truth” you meant, all those principles, adopted by your Catholic Church as truths, then your statement is not totally right. Because what your Church percieve is basically relative and each and every element of it is not necessarily true, thus Martin Luther had to leave RCC and your Church had to excommnunicate him from the RCC.

Your allegience/commitment/attachemnt to your Church/indoctrination is merely your personal faith. If I apply your logic then all faiths must be true. But obviously not all can be right and wrong at the same time, thus in Christiandom there are thousands of different denominations, cults and sects who all claim to have same Holy Ghost who is “guiding” all of them ** to contradict each other**. No denomination/cult/sect is ever ready to give up his denomination/cult/sect and merged in to his opponent’s denomination/cult/sect. Not to mention RCC claims that ONLY SHE IS UNDER the GUIDANCE of HOLY GHOST, thus SHE rejects all Protestants’ interpretation of Bible, their logic and even their common reasoning. So, as per Catholic Catechism:

[INDENT]
Lesson 14:
Interpreting The Bible

  1. Is the meaning of the Bible so clear that anyone reading it, can readily understand it?

**The Bible is by no means so easily understood: St. Peter himself tells us that it contains many things: “… hard to be understood …” (II Pet. III,16). **

  1. Whom do we have to interpret the Bible for us?

The Catholic Church interprets the Bible for us.

  1. Is it natural that we should have a guide in interpreting the Bible?

**Quite natural, just as in America, we have the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution of the United States. The difference is that the Church is infallible and the Supreme Court is not! **

  1. So the Church cannot make mistakes in interpreting the Bible?

**No, for she is under the guidance of the Holy Ghost. **

  1. How does that guidance manifest itself?

Through Tradition, the teachings of the Fathers, the Doctors of the Church, and of learned men.

  1. Do Protestants acknowledge the interpretation of the Church or of any other authority?

No; Protestants hold that anyone who reads the Bible in the proper spirit will be guided by the Holy Ghost in interpretation.

  1. Is this belief of Protestants a sensible one?

No; it is against the Bible, against Tradition, against reason.

  1. How is it against reason?

Because the result of this belief has been that, as many interpretations exist as there are individual thinkers, and many of these interpretations contradict each other; since the Holy Ghost cannot contradict Himself, He cannot be the guide of these interpretations, and therefore, this belief of these Protestants is false.

[drbo.org/catechism.htm#lesson14]](http://www.drbo.org/catechism.htm#lesson14])


For an independent truth seeking person, you both are wrong for various reasons, by using your logic.
Did you realise the big flaw in your “logic” which goes against your very principle/faith?[/INDENT]


#19

[quote=Tonks40] “Knowing” the Lord and “knowing about” the Lord are two different things entirely.
[/quote]

Yeap. And I would like to add:

Know your ignorance, and ignore what you know in order to know further how ignorant you were, prior to exploring further.



#20

Just ignore freedomm’s posts. He’s bound to be suspended or something pretty soon.


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