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Share Your Stories of Encountering Jesus With Young People
Raise your hand if someone in your family, aged 20 to 30, once raised Catholic, has fallen away from the faith in recent years. Tragically, hands went up all over the readership of this article. Friends, we’re not simply witnessing a gentle decline in Mass attendance and Catholic practices among the under-30 crowd, but a startling cliff. Dozens of articles and numerous studies confirm the staggering and alarming trends: Young people are leaving, and they are deciding to go earlier and earlier in their lives. Often, the post-high-school years represent the time when the decision to stop believing corresponds with a noticeable change in behavior. Hidden doubts become exposed now that Mom and Dad aren’t there to require Mass attendance. Our collective hearts break for these young people, who now identify as “none” or no religious affiliation, but Jesus is still Lord and the Gospel is still alive, so here are three tips for what we can do:
Pray, pray, pray, pray, pray … and fast.
The Lord hears the cries of his people, and our specific, intentional and persistent prayers for the conversion of the younger generations will be heard and bear fruit. We also need to fast because Jesus tells us in Mark 9:29 that certain spirits can only be cast out through prayer and fasting, and I believe the current spirit of disbelief and deconstruction is one of the spirits.
Lean into their suffering.
Many of young people’s doubts and reasons for leaving originate in deep wounds from something they’ve done or has been done to them. Instead of being surprised or scandalized by someone’s brokenness, we need to weep with those who weep so we can bring Christ’s healing presence and eventually lead them out of it. Walking with young people may hurt since they may do and say things that cut us deeply. The question is, do we have the courage and the love necessary to weather those storms so as to be a consistently loving, strong, healing relationship in their turbulent lives?
Share your story!
There’s no substitute for the Gospel preached through the lens of your personal experience. Young people love stories, so be ready and willing to describe life before Jesus, how you met him and what life is like now. Don’t sugarcoat it, just be authentic and honest. Your testimony of faith will be more important than your ability to win an apologetic argument.
This generation is worth it, let’s put our heads down and get to work!
The Lord broke my heart for this age group back in 2010, which led to the young adult outreach of Renewal Ministries. We love your kids, grandkids and friends, so if there’s any way we can help, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pete Burak is the director of i.d.9:16, the young adult outreach of Renewal Ministries. He has a master’s degree in theology and is a frequent speaker on evangelization and discipleship.