This guest post was written by Miriam McDonnel, a student at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
The new millennial generation is a private generation compared to their priors, meaning that unlike other generations; they do not have to physically be with someone to talk to them. How does this mindset affect the church one may ask? Because the new millennial are losing their sense of tradition and if there is not some innovative reason to why they should attend mass on Sunday morning and stop browsing their newsfeed on Facebook, then they most likely will not be at mass that morning. They are absorbed in the world of technology and are not leaving thus if the church were to become innovative with how they interact with young teens, they may turn this tide while there is still time.
In the 1950s, seventy-five percent of people on average attended church regularly. Church was a valuable time for people to receive peace, comfort, and spiritual guidance and in particular, socialize with their neighbors. Most parents were in some way active with the organizations of the church and thus most likely brought their children with them. However, with each generation the number of church goers is decreasing and therefore children are increasingly becoming less involved with the church. Around two-thirds of adults still go to church because that is how they were raised and the percentage is decreasing each generation. According to The Church and the New Media by Brandon Vogt, only fifteen percent of young adults attend church regularly in modern society. The church is being challenged with a new wave of communication and they will not be able to fight it without falling behind. People are becoming less interactive with each new technological improvement. Websites like Facebook and other social sites allow people to be social without actually having to be physically present with one another. People no longer need to go to social gatherings to get into contact with each other.
How is the church going to create an interactive technological involvement with young teens? The church will need to reach out to the young adults of the religious community through entering their digital world. Through Twitter, Facebook, blogs, marketing-focused videos, and podcasts, the church can help establish a foundation with young adults. Podcasts enable churches to record and post their homilies for people to listen to. Twitter and Facebook are both social networks that connect individuals to news while creating a unique social environment. The church can use such social sites to keep their locals updated on church announcements thus creating a social stimulation of reminders. Blogs allow people to state their opinions in detail and have others from all around the world read it and comment on the blog. Blogs can be very moving and inspirational to readers who are going through the same situation that the writer is. Videos created to inspire younger generations to become more involved with church can be posted on YouTube and views can be increased through reposts on both Facebook and twitter. In the book The Church and New Media by Brandon Vogt, states that priests are now telling mass attendants to “…take out their phones and turn them on…The priests then speak about unity as Catholics and as a parish.” The purpose of the cellphone in church is so that attendants will text the number given by the parish in order to receive updates and one lucky winner who signed up to receive these updates will also receive a prize such as an iPad.
Another issue the church faces is that each year less and less people bring cash to church and thus the amount of collections received is diminishing. If one has been to church in the past few years or an event that offers charitable donations then they may have heard this line: “If everyone here gives just one dollar then…” it is very likely that someone would give a dollar, but what if they do not have a tangible dollar on them, the what? The organization just lost a donation and probably a lot more because people do not carry around cash like they used to. However, the church can solve this problem though “Electronic-Giving” which allows people to access their bank accounts and donate however much they wish to give through an electronic device. Perhaps an app will be researched and created to allow people to create an account, securely save their bank account information, and be able to select their parish in order to give toward collections. The process will become more efficient and innovative thus people will feel more inclined to do it because it is much easier than going to an ATM right before mass.
The church can increase the number of attendants to mass through an increase of interactions in media. A study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill shows that teens who regularly attend religious practices are significantly less likely to get into legal troubles than those who are not a part of any religious practice. However, teens are becoming less aware of their physical surroundings and more aware of their technological devices thus through media the church can engage, evangelize and bring back the foundations of tradition in the lives of young adults.
What are your experiences and the experiences of people you know regarding regular participation at Mass? How have you observed the Church reaching out to new millennials? Share with us in the Comments box below.