Saturday, January 28, 2023

Why young people are abandoning the pews

Why young people are abandoning the pews
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Young people are abandoning the pews in Churches all around the country, perhaps it is because churches all around Scotland are often unintentionally neglecting teenagers.

Young people yearn for a sense of belonging, love, and they have hopes and dreams – and rightly or wrongly they don’t feel that sense of belonging or their hopes will be fulfilled with the church, that’s the impression I get when talking to others in my age group that have abandoned the church, it wasn’t so much a crisis of faith as of belonging.

I’ve heard many people blame it on the parents that their isn’t many youth in the congregation, perhaps it was forced upon them so they didn’t value their faith.

A number of Catholic congregations include young adult Catholic’s that are looking to belong, that means being able to do things and take responsibility for things preferably with others of the same age group as themselves.

Most parishes are structured to emphasise younger children, in Primary school, for their sacraments and also pensioners are the main bulk of the congregation and young adults are often incidentally forgotten.

In Roman Catholic churches the mass is sometimes perhaps too loaded or at the wrong times. How about introducing late night mass in some churches? As Nightfever seems to be popular – Nighfever is a night of prayer and part of the Nightfever initiative which is rooted in the Catholic Church. Nightfever is open churches with a special atmosphere of music, prayer and candlelight. And that at a time when the churches are usually closed.

And there is a lack of engagement as a survey reported in the Guardian newspaper (13/07/18), finding 18-24 year-olds are more tolerant of Christian faith more than any other age groups, more than 50% said they had positive experiences with Christians and Christianity, although 66.7% said they have never been to church – these are results from 4,000 people polled in March.

Another issue for young adults is obviously maturing and establishing their sexual identities and the churches position on sexual ethics is often – fairly or unfairly – seen as at best outdated and unhelpful, if not absolutely hypocritical, with the scandals that happen in the Church.

Christian teaching can be very helpful in forming healthy and loving relationships although the teachings often lack the language and possibly the credibility at this time.

Rowan Williams’ – former Archbishop of Canterbury – wrote ‘the Lions World’ which is his appreciation of CS Lewis’ Narnia series, Wiliams makes the point that Lewis’ fables represent many central Christian beliefs and issues in a way that makes it easy and accessible, even to children. The way the mass is said or the beliefs of the church are put across is possibly too dull and dusty for young adults.

Catholicism and religion in general comes across as being antagonistic to science, with many simply feeling “Christianity is against science” or “Churches don’t understand the scientific world we live in”.

The culture war we live in a – presumed – scientific culture which is supposedly hostile to religion’s lack of meaning or superstition. This view originated in the 50s logical positivism from Alfred Jules Ayer and was popularised/vulgarised by Richard Dawkins with ‘The God Delusion’ in the early 2000s and then blown out of the water by various theologians and cultural critics since and in reality the can and do both co-exist. In reality science and religion offer complementary rather than contrasting ways of giving meaning to the world

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