As the two largest living generations, baby boomers and millennials occupy much of our current society. The stark variances in lifestyle, society, and mindset that differentiate these generations can oftentimes produce a fair amount of discord and tension. However, the two generations can certainly benefit one another in collaboration within the Church.
There’s Sunday school for little kids, youth groups for teenagers, and Bible studies and parenting groups for adults. Where do young adult Catholics fit into all of the groups and services within a parish? It can sometimes be a difficult task for churches to evangelize to members of their parishes who are young adults. However, there are solutions to the problems of young adults in need of evangelization and community building, specifically through collaboration between baby boomers and millennials.
An Unlikely Collaboration
The Church should seek to inspire young adults and help establish communities that provide a place for them to flourish in faith. Millennials, on their part, must rise to the abundant challenges facing the Church today and boldly respond to serve and take initiative with their parishes. In order to improve evangelization to young adults, the Church and many of its baby boomer members must seek better communication and collaboration. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Church and its young adult members must better engage in the inner workings of the parish, become significantly more engaged with fellow young adults in the form of groups and events, and encourage service and charity in the work of Christ.
Opportunities for Collaboration
Often, young adults feel displaced because there are often not many other peers in the same age group or communities for individuals in similar stages of life within the parish. However, the feeling of displacement can be easily remedied. There are three potential solutions to this situation.
1.) Mingling with People in Different Life Stages
The first requires young adults to broaden their horizons and mingle with members of the parish who are in different stages of life, from married with children to members of the baby boomer generation. All young adults, whether single or married, can learn a lot of useful information about living in a parish, engaging in its community, and establishing a flourishing faith life. The connectedness that derives from parish engagement certainly assists in the evangelization of the church and collaboration between baby boomers and millennials, as it helps young adults deepen their faith in a manner that is mutually beneficial for both generations.
2.) Pastors and Parish Leaders Creating Incentives for Young Adults
The second way in which baby boomers and millennials can collaborate in the church particularly concerns priests or community leaders of that generation. It can benefit a mass of people if a leader gets the ball rolling to incentivize young adults to form groups and communities for themselves within the parish. Creating groups is an important measure that young adults must take in parishes and communicate with leaders. Parish leaders must offer ideas for spiritual growth and community building for young adults. Pastors should view and understand young adults as the next generation of leadership in the church.
3.) Finding a Common Cause
Just like baby boomers, many young adults find great motivation in supporting a cause, whether religious or humanitarian. They work for the poor and the homeless, the sick and the suffering, and others on the margins of society. A truly valuable and worthwhile cause can inspire individuals and communities to work together for change and make a difference. Church leaders from the baby boomer generation can and will strike a chord in the hearts of young adults if they propose worthwhile causes and seek to minister to pressing needs of the community and the world.
Some Great Resources
To assist in the creation of young adult groups within a parish environment, the Office of Young Adult Ministry and its St. Louis Young Adults ministries and services, serve as an essential resource for young adults, connecting them with Catholics throughout the local area. Emmaus groups, monthly Theology on Tap events, and other small young adult groups have helped young people find community and subsequently formulate ideas for groups and events that perhaps never existed within a parish before.
In conclusion, what resolutions should Catholic millennials and baby boomer make? First, both groups should pray and be open to the promptings of the Spirit leading their communities and parishes.
Second, both should understand the charisms found in individuals, communities, and parishes and then assess how projects and ministries are leading people to encounter Jesus Christ and His love for each person. They must ask themselves: who is not receiving Christ? Who are on the peripheries? Why is the parish maintaining instead of going out on mission?
Third, both generations must dialogue about parish situations and leadership opportunities and be open to solving problems together. While young adults must help themselves in the process of integration and immersion in a parish, church leaders should constantly be seeking ways to reach out to new people, not waiting for these new people to approach them. By open and earnest collaboration, young adults can greatly impact parishes and communities.
Co-Author: Michael Horn