Want People Back In Pews, TRADITION!
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That’s right darlin, Tradition, just like they that word that we remember from Fiddler on The Roof. As music coordinator for the local church and one who had made a journey back home to the faith, I have done a lot of research as to what not only millennials are seeking, but in general those who would want to come back to or come to the church, also what they don’t want. This would also apply to non millennials, the gist of it.
What don’t they want? What they don’t want is the church to be a rock concert, night club, cafe, lounge, opera stage or anything besides a church. They also don’t want hip and cool man, so if you are looking to become a star and liver out your dreams through the church, they won’t appreciate any of that. They won’t appreciate it being a way for you to feel good about you, or for you to be some hero, and they will see right through. Authentic teaching, authentic God, even if it rattles their cage, okay rattle away, but he honest, don’t run, hide, water down, treat them like fragile porcelain, but also don’t be brutal either, judge the sin, but love the sinner. The articles I have been reading make a similar point, which is that you do not go to church to be entertained to “feel good”, you go to reflect, contemplate, to hear truth, even if uncomfortable.
What do they want? They want traditional Mass with traditional song and liturgy, dynamic homily. As for the arts, they are fine with the creative, related to scripture, faith formation. If you are creative and you do it out of true love of teaching scripture and all things of God, teaching that to them, hey by all means. They want the homily, the teachings to be authentic brutal, but authentic, Jesus presented in both his humanity and divinity. They want a God, Trinity that is not so pie in the sky they can’t ever relate. Authentic teaching, authentic God, even if it rattles their cage, okay rattle away. Be honest, don’t run, hide, water down, treat them like fragile porcelain, but also don’t be brutal either, judge the sin, but love the sinner. They want the church to be a second home, to guide, point the way, to know that even the apostles, the saints struggled with temptations, with anger, with people opposing their expression of faith, throughout their lives, and that faith is not easy. One article I was reading pointed this out: Recent research from Barna Group and the Cornerstone Knowledge Network found that 67 percent of millennials prefer a “classic” church over a “trendy” one, and 77 percent would choose a “sanctuary” over an “auditorium.”. That says a lot. In that same article blogger Amy Peterson put it this way: “I want a service that is not sensational, flashy, or particularly ‘relevant.’ I can be entertained anywhere. At church, I do not want to be entertained. I do not want to be the target of anyone’s marketing. I want to be asked to participate in the life of an ancient-future community.” Again, they want to feel embraced and safe in the church, but they also don’t want to be lied to and not receive authenticity, so finding that balance is crucial.
Catholicism in particular has such rich traditions and to try and modernize and all that blarney is silly and dumb and no it should not change its’ doctrines of truth on anything in terms of core teachings, but each church must do a much better job of catechesis, formation, apologetics and application of it all to life and community, internally and externally. Sadly not everyone wants to hear get back to basics, get back to tradition, to catechesis and all that jazz, and so the church pews stay empty, as the secular and all other marvels are tried in order to grow the church instead of getting back to basics. These articles I found interesting and hope you do to.