The Catechetical Review - Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization

Youth & Young Adult Ministry: The Power of Gen Z – How Parishes Can Activate the Prophetic Voice of Youth

Authored by Joel Stepanek in Issue #9.2 of Catechetical Review

“When you love something so much, you talk about it. You can’t contain it. If you find something that you think is the greatest thing in the world, what teenager is quiet? There are none.” When I encountered that quote, my outlook on youth ministry changed. It was the day I realized that something was missing in our parishes. It was why, despite hundreds of thousands of Catholic teenagers attending youth groups, camps, and conferences every year, young people were still leaving the Church, some as young as ten years old.[i]

As those of us in the pews are getting older, more teenagers are becoming disaffiliated from religion. But this doesn’t mean that they aren’t religious or spiritual. Springtide Research Institute has interviewed and listened to teenagers (“Gen Z”) for several years. They are quick to point out that while many teenagers are no longer choosing to affiliate with a particular religion, teens are still very religious and spiritual. Furthermore, affiliation or disaffiliation doesn’t tell the whole story. Of “affiliated” Catholic teenagers, 49 percent say they have “little or no trust in organized religion.”[ii]

Almost half. That means that out of all those teenagers going to youth groups, sitting in religious education classes, and spending a week at camp—the ones who identify as Catholic—almost half of them don’t really trust the Church. It makes sense, then, why they choose to leave as time goes on. Why would you stay within an institution you don’t trust, especially one that is increasingly countercultural?

There is also a cost to being religious; we forgo certain things, do other things, and identify who we are through outward signs and behaviors. As secular culture becomes more antagonistic to religion, it forces teenagers who were raised Catholic but are perhaps lukewarm in their faith to make a decision: all in or all out. It is too costly to be a marginal Catholic; why deal with the persecution when you haven’t really bought into the faith in the first place?

The rest of this online article is available for current subscribers.

Start your subscription today!


This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting [email protected]

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

Editor’s Reflections: Eucharistic Communion and Seeing Those in Need
By Dr. James Pauley
Free The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that receiving the Eucharist “commits us to the poor” (1397). Why is this so? Receiving the Eucharist means that we enter into union with the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. And being in Holy Communion with Jesus himself means something profound. Let’s consider one facet of this great mystery.... Read more
The Anawim and the Kerygma
By Colin and Aimee MacIver
Sarah: aged and barren. Joseph: rejected, betrayed, and enslaved. Moses: desperately cast afloat in a basket. Daniel: sent to death by lions. Mary: unknown, unmarried, unbelieved. Salvation history is the story of the poor ones, the bowed down, the lowly—the anawim , as they are named in Hebrew. In both the Old Testament and the New, God tends to... Read more
The Spiritual Life: Poverty, Purity of Heart, & Eucharistic Living
By Sr. Alicia Torres, FE
Free This article is part of a 3-year series dedicated to promoting the efforts of the National Eucharistic Revival in the United States. “The Body of Christ.” “Amen.” Each time we participate in Mass, we have the opportunity to encounter the Lord Jesus in the most intimate way through the reception of Holy Communion. This moment is the most practical... Read more

Pages

Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now