Monday, June 19, 2006

What is our problem?

From Essential Youth: Why the Church needs young people by Andy Hickford:

A church once asked me to act as a youth consultant.
From the outside, everything looked fine...
The problem was the young people - at least that's what they said.
There just weren't any.
They attended mid-week clubs but ... would not come to the services.
I met with the minister and then separately with all the other leaders
involved so that they could tell me what they really felt the problems were...
the services were too long and boring, and that the teaching and music
style failed to engage with adolescents, ...
if only there was a better Bible teaching and less entertainment in the youth programme,
the problems with young people would not exist in the first place.
Finally, the night arrived to meet with them all together.
Everybody in the room was focussed on the problem of the young people. ...
I began with a question: 'When was the last time you saw an adult converted from a non-Christian background?'
... Following some discussion, it was agreed that they could only remember one man
... An embarrassed silence fell upon the room as the truth began to sink in.
I put up an OHP slide:
'This church does not have a problem with young people.
Fundamentally, this church has a problem with the gospel!'

I went to what was advertised as a planning meeting for the Open the Doors weekend in our parish this evening. I had heard that there was going to be a big, extra special Parish Mass. Obviously the choir would be involved, so I thought I'd better show up and do my duty (!). So didn't want to be there.

Anyway, this is what was decided at the meeting:
  • we're going to have flags
  • we're going to have a 'Parish feast'
  • we're going to have music and readings from different national and linguistic communities from within the Parish community

Everyone had very definite ideas about what 'we' should do - there was lots of discussion. Is anyone actually going to do anything thus far? Well, I'm typing up some lists I made and the PP is putting up a notice board and announcing it.

Does this make it a parish event, involving the whole community (how I loathe the misuse of the word 'community')? Admittedly, I am pretty pedantic when it comes to planning and organising (I am I librarian) - can't really spot the planning the event bit, it must have passed me by.

It's the lie (intentional or otherwise) that bothers me. We are a bunch of people who call ourselves Catholic, who happen to come to the same Church to worship - does that make us either Catholic or a community? (I could call myself 'Anne', if I felt like it. My birth cert would still say 'Louise'). We are having an event to which all mass-going Catholics in the Parish will be invited. Many will not come - does that make it a parish event?

It's easy to 'blame' one particular group. It's far harder to realise that the first problem - the only one we have the ability to change - is ourselves.

1 comment:

1dayin7 said...

ACtually, the first problem is that we can't even change ourselves.

We need a Saviour.

"O King of tremendous majesty,
who saves those who are to be saved,
Save me, thou Fount of Piety"...