Matt Palmer of the Catholic Review recently conducted an interview with me via e-mail. It attaches nicely into on on-going series of videos and text we are using for our diocesan conversation regarding youth ministry.
1. What is the biggest misconception of Millennials? I think they are perceived sometimes as unfocused “slackers.” Nothing could be further from the truth! Given a compelling vision, that are wonderful collaborators in addressing what’s broken or hurting in the world or their lives.
2. What is the most rewarding thing about working with and assisting Millennials in their faith? They provide hope for today and for the future. When properly introduced, they are fully willing to be in love with Jesus and the Church.
3. How different are Catholic Millennials from the Millennial population at large? Mostly, they are not… And that is the challenge for us as Church.
Pope Benedict reminds us in Spe Salvi that :The one who has hope lives differently.” Our challenge as Catholics, not matter our generation, is how are we living differently.
4. What do you think makes Millennials different than Gen X’ers or Baby Boomers? Technology. It is redefining their education, their sense of relationships and community, and their world-view.
5. A lot of generations say they want to change the world. How is this one different? From my perspective, I actually believe this one just might do it… But, it is going to depend on the adult community. Are we willing to invest our love, care, and support in a generation that has been gifted with more education, tools, and possibility and include them in determining our shared future?
6. What challenges does the church have with connecting with Millennials? I think it is a matter of inclusion. When young people “do church,” we fail if they are only experiencing faith with their peers. We have to invite young people to share in the “grown-up’s table” of our faith community, of our worship, of our living out the mission of the Church
7. Does all the research help the church under Millennials and how much does it have to learn about them? We have only begun to look at the church’s ministry with young people in a more professional manner – learning where we are succeeding as well as where we are falling short of our best intentions. Recent research is compelling us, correctly, I believe, to readjust our practices in how to best serve young people and the Church.
8. It’s often said that young people are the church, not it’s future. How are the Millennials changing or defining the church? The clearest standard of how Millennials will change or define the church is through their participation. Youth are the Church now! Therefore, they deserve to be engaged and involved within the whole community. They will only be the future of we invest in them in the present.
9. When people talk about Millennials, they immediately refer to technology. Does technology define this generation and is it fair? It is fair to define this generation, in part, by the technological advances that they are experiencing in their young lifetimes. If World War II defined the “Greatest Generation,” how Millennials harness technology for the common good may define them as the next “Greatest Generation.”
10. Are Millennials as obsessed with popular culture as Gen X’ers? It may seem that Millennials are even more obsessed with popular culture then Gen X’ers. but with so much available to them, I think they have become culturally attention-deficit. There is a great need to assist young people in the ability to discern what is important and essential to them for their lives.
11. Is there one person in the public eye who defines Millennials for you? Why? >>I was going to pass on this question, but think I will cite…>> In The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, is portrayed as one who while capitalizing on how technology can impact relationships also faces the challenge of negotiating relationships as well. This movie re-defines Citizen Kane for the Millennial Generation.
12. What’s it like raising three Millennials? My kids are each bright, articulate, wonderful examples of a generation of young people who presently and in the future all will make the world a better place. Can you tell I am a proud dad? Well, they also never cleaned their rooms. Some of the best stuff that I have ever discovered about the millennial generation is just by sitting at a dinner table with them and listening. It is probably something that we, of an older generation, don’t do as well as we can or should. <image sources 1 and 2>