A little tip for (a particular brand of) priests and pastors and ministers:
it is unwise to make assumptions and generalisations. It is unwise to undervalue anyone’s faith life.
I walked into a church today, for the evening service. The newest leaflet was lying around and I perused it while waiting for the service to begin. And what was it I read there? That it can be commonly assumed, as a fair generalisation, that young people have no interest in God.
Now, you don’t know me.
I’m in my twenties. Since I was a teenager, I have had a profound interest in God. This is what I dedicate my time and my thoughts and my heart to – the search for a deeper life with God. Since six years, I have been praying and thinking and discerning about joining a religious order. And since about as long as I can think, I have met priests/ministers who look down on the faith and experience of the young, who do not take seriously the spiritual search of those in their teens and twenties.
I also happen to know a considerable number of people my age who have a very noticeable interest in God, in faith, in church, in religion. I can tell you one thing: none of them will thank you for thinking so little of what they can offer you.
Your attitude to the young does you – or your church – no favours. I will not worship in a church where those whose calling it is to serve all in their search for God will not honour my faith and my dedication to God in my life.
So I got up and left.
I do not believe in submission to ignorance. Not anymore. And no, I do not believe that I should listen to you because of some God-given authority you claim you have. If you are a priest for the right reasons, you have a calling to serve. Honour your calling. Serve those who seek God. Don’t assume and exclude before you can meet the people who need your service.
I believe in God’s love for me, God’s interest in me, God’s call to me. Offer me resources and support for my spiritual life, or stay out of it.
And thanks be to God for all priests, ministers, pastors, spiritual directors and elders who value the young in their churches, and the young outside churches who are seeking God and might show interest. I give thanks for your service to those who ask questions, who voice doubts, who are speaking up for the sake of their spiritual hunger. Yes, we do have an interest in God. And God has an interest in us.