I’ve heard it said multiple times, from the middle-aged to elders, what can we do to get young people involved in the church? The concern stems from our wanting the next generation to discover what we find so important and graced in our religious involvement and that the church will not survive without each generation taking responsibility for sustaining it.
Grant Skeldon, found of The Initiative Network, is a millennial who address the generation issue. He says that many young adults were saved, or made a commitment to God when they were young. But they were never discipled and so they fell away. What does he mean by “discipled?” Although they committed to God, they were never given mentors to help them learn what it means to make a commitment to God by following Jesus Christ.
As ecclesial leaders, we know that being a disciple of Christ is hard work. We also know that following is done in a community. We need one another to encourage, correct, comfort and companion us as we learn to live as a disciple and to do as a disciple does.
Skeldon says that just going to church isn’t being discipled. Church becomes a “come back, next week,” “come back next week” end of its own. He says that to become part of the body of Christ, there must be connections and relationships built between each member of the body. That’s a very personal and one-on-one commitment to another person.
Young adults need mentors so they can learn what it means to live as a Christian. RCIA refers to this as an apprenticeship in the Christian life, and provides for godparents, sponsors and the entire Christian community as agents for this work Skeldon would call discipling.
Quoting the General Directory for Catechesis, Paragraph 81 states, “Use the catechumenate as an inspiring model for all catechesis. The baptismal catechumenate provides for an apprenticeship in Christian living and believing.”
If we are to believe Church teaching and Skeldon, then we should be providing mentors to young adults to apprentice them in the faith. Those efforts need to be supported by prayer, serious investment in adult faith formation and abiding trust that the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church in her efforts to spread the Word to each generation.
Leading a parish to this kind of movement can be a herculean task. But not an impossible one. Leadership skills are a necessity in this kind of paradigm shift. We can help you develop the skills you need to build a network of adult mentors in your parish so the next generation is supported in their faith life. Contact us!
To learn more about Grant Skeldon and The Initiative Network, go to their website at: http://www.initiativenetwork.org/