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Do we really need young people in church?

2013 July 16
by Gordon Reid

The cry is always going up all over the Church: “We have so few young people in the congregation. We are going to die”

My (helpful as usual) reply has always been “What a load of male-cow droppings”.

I hasten to say that this is not at present true of St Clement’s, Philadelphia: we have a good percentage of young(ish) people in the congregation. But even if it were true, I would still say the same. To put it at its most extreme, if your congregation consists of only 60 or 70 year olds, why should you worry? They have a lot of experience and wisdom in them, and the delightful thing is – there are a lot more 60 and 70 year olds coming along! So it takes a really depressive outlook to think that your congregation will get any smaller. In fact, if you get out there and evangelise the  40 and 50 year olds, your congregation might grow considerably, even though it will still  be made up mainly of 60 and 70 year olds.

But that is an extreme example, aimed to make you laugh. For most congregations the reality is that there are people of nearly every age group in them, and that is how it should usually be. It is a healthy and happy group that has children, teenagers, young adults and  the older generations all mixed in. There is so much that they can learn from each other and teach each other. But if one age-group predominates, take Our Lady’s advice and let it be. Use the gifts of all, and tell them all to bring in some friends, and make sure that what  you offer in the way of Word and Sacrament helps them to grow closer to Jesus Christ. He is the Centre of our Faith, and if they are growing closer to  Him, they will inevitably be growing closer to one another.

Then  you may well be surprised by how well the 90 year old gets on with the 18 year old.

One Response leave one →
  1. Gary (NJ) permalink
    July 27, 2013

    I was raised RC and left the Church for a variety of reasons in the early 1970s. I was ‘spiritual but not religious’ for 30+ years until I ended up joining TEC in 2009 (Anglo-Catholic parish). I now attend almost every Sunday. Our materialist culture with its endless distractions often leaves little interest for the Great Mystery in many, but of course not all, younger people; especially if they have no exposure to it at home. Perhaps those who are religiously inclined find their way back to religion, or come to it for the first time, because we/they have achieved a degree of peace and wisdom that the young often don’t have. Plus, as we know, the spiritual hunger that our society is so filled with, can never be filled with endless technology, entertainment and having the latest gadgets. I think the younger generations may start returning to Church as they mature, just as I did. As the Bible so often says, “Don’t be afraid!”

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