Why a youngster who believes in God has to go to the church on Sundays and on the great holidays?
It’s difficult to convince a youngster to try and see the church as his home. To make him see himself as a member of the community that is the Body of Christ. The youngsters are usually members of the internet communities, of teams who play electronic games, of groups with people of their age.
But to dare to get acquainted with the Church it’s beyond their conception of life, especially if their family doesn’t go to the church. It’s not only the difficulty in understanding what it happens in the church, but also the feeling that the people from the church are just mere spectators. They just look and listen to a language that is almost incomprehensible for their mind. And this happens because their heart belongs to another place. And in the churches you don’t often find a warm embrace for the young people.
The youngsters protest because the grown-ups look oddly at them and the people of the same age with them are missing from the church. Thus, even if some of them have a good disposition to go there, when they arrive, they feel lonely. The church community itself, beside the catechetical synaxis, doesn’t offer after the liturgy any opportunity for the children and teens to feel that there is some interest in them as well.
Is there a lack of priests who seek to communicate with the youngsters? Is it the feeling that even for the adults a Sunday remained a day for domestic activities and walks? Is it the fact that the youngster wants to go in his own environment, with his friends, enjoying his freedom without restrictions?
There is no need for despair, but for an opening from the church members, especially from the priests. They have a very important role. If the priest is friendly with the children and teens who come to the church, if he greets them when it’s given the antidoron, if he invites them to meet in the parish center or anywhere else he considers suitable for them, if during the visits he pays to the families from his parish, he makes the youngsters be glad to see someone who – even mistakenly – is considered by them to represent God, then are created the auspicious conditions for the young generation to see that their churchgoing can be like a feast.
But preferably the urge to take part in the Holy Eucharist and to organize social and philanthropic activities – that are not only for the ladies of a parish – all these can make a youngster feel that the church is his home and his churchgoing is his own business just like the prayer and the peace of soul he finds there. The youngster may become a member of the church community and get involved in the activities of interest for him, so that he could enjoy going to the church.
The family of each youngster plays the most significant role in this, of course. But for the youngster – and here it comes the church’s responsibility – churchgoing in order to last should become a habit coming out of a personal choice.