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Unleashing the World Changers

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While leading a discussion with a dozen Millennial teens, I asked, “Do you feel your parish cares about you as teens?” One young man spoke for the crowd when he exclaimed, “They care if we come, but they don’t care if we’re involved.” For many Millennials, going to church and sitting passively is not enough. A part of being “special” is having a special purpose or role in the community. Millennials believe that they have an important individual and collective purpose in the world. They want to make a difference. Parishes who fall short of offering teens ample opportunities for meaningful involvement will find an increasing number of disconnected youth. They are not content to wait until adulthood to be active in their faith communities and world.

Parishes often fail to capitalize on the Millennials’ collective call to make a difference in the world. Let’s face it–teens are not parading out of our pews, protesting, “You are asking too much from me!” We are guilty more of under-challenging teens–asking so little that we bore them out of our assemblies. Our young people are a product of our expectations. Successfully connecting with today’s youth means planting seeds for big dreams. Rather than buckling for fear of the risks, we need to passionately challenge teens because of the risk. We need to dare young people with a Spirit-led vision that captures their imagination for making a collective difference in their world. We can unleash the incredible energy of this great generation by simply changing the lens in which we view them. When we begin seeing our young people as future Saints– who are only in need of a parish leader who recognizes their potential, and a community that collectively nurtures their calling, we are on our way to producing world-changers. Capitalizing on this generation’s disposition of wanting to make a difference, helping them to recognize the call of the Holy Spirit, and offering platforms, tools, and training for ministry can result in one of the greatest era’s of the Church- to be world-changers.

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