by Adeline Bock
What young people need today is a renewed apologetics and catechesis in church communities. Having attended the Synod on Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment in Rome, Bishop Robert Barron shares his experience of the Synod – the characters, personalities, sights and sounds.
Below are seven tips he shared with us during the Religious Education Congress in LA, on sharing our faith with young people.
Firstly, we need to meet young people where they’re at as a starting point then to introduce Christ to them. Many young people may not be religious, but they are interested in social justice.
Recently, canonized saint, Saint Mother Theresa of Calcutta is well known for her works in social justice, and young people adore and look up to her.
Let us connect the youth to the works of justice, the more they do, they more connected they are to the Church. It goes with the saying, “First, live our life then you can understand what we do and why we do it”. This applies to both corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
Evangelise through the way of beauty for the beautiful is far more inviting. Show them the beauty of the Church, learn the great art and aesthetics of the churches. Include the works of renowned Catholic artists. For example: Sistine chapel, stained glass windows of Notre Dame Cathedral and many more.
Young people want answers to their questions, and they know it when there is inauthenticity in our answers. We must provide young people with the truth. We need to start with ourselves by learning the faith and use our theological knowledge.
We often underestimate what our young people are capable of in our religious structure, but the world does not. The world will continue to feed into their minds while we hold back.
We need to get relevant religious books, read them and share them with our young people.
A sense of belonging is what young people are yearning for at the core of their hearts. But they may not know it or look for it consciously. It is in a community setting that young people learn to grow and mature in their faith through the support of different people within a community. Youth ministry is a relational ministry, just like what Jesus did during his time. Young people need to be approached with the grammar of love, not by being preached at.
It is in Mass that God’s people receive Christ who saves, forgives and unites everyone to his father, Church and each other. In the Holy Mass, young people can participate in the mystery of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. By taking part in the Eucharist, the youth can be conformed in a unique and profound way to the risen Christ. It is granting them a foretaste of full communion with God in heaven and with all the saints.
Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus Christ has commanded us to go out on a mission. This is the mission of the whole Church. Each of us has been called to step up, reach out to the unreachable and share the joy of the Gospel with them. We must empower and equip the youth to evangelise and give them a sense of mission.
The works of the Lord can be challenging, we know that. When Jesus spoke the truth, there were people who left him and so we are not exempted from this either. There will be young people who will walk away from our messages and we have to be ready for that. However, the Lord invites us to not give up. It is our job to plant the seeds. Then, we will take all that we do into prayer, surrender and let God be God. For, in the end, He will triumph.
Adeline is a full-time youth ministry worker in CYM and is the founder of Graceful Fitness where she integrates faith with fitness.