Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
January 25, 2010
Church must be relevant to Kids' lives, says Bibby
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
ST. ALBERT - Young Canadians are open to greater involvement in ministry if they find that it is worthwhile, says sociologist Reginald Bibby.
Some simply want better homilies - homilies that speak to their daily lives, says the University of Lethbridge sociologist.
Quoting sociologist Rodney Stark, Bibby said, "People still have needs that only the gods can satisfy." Those religious groups that satisfy those needs would flourish.
While God and Church are down in the polls among Canadian teens, religious passages are not. Most young people still want God and Church around for the most important occasions in their lives, including marriage and death, Bibby noted.
They also still embrace the values promoted by religious groups. They value freedom and choice as well as traditional values such as honesty, integrity and hard work.
"Teens appear to be increasingly polarized religiously; yet they are not oblivious to the gods," Bibby said.
But he warned young people are increasingly pragmatic and won't show up just because that's what good Catholics do. "They will show up if they believe their personal needs are being met."
Bibby was the keynote speaker at the annual conference of the Western Canadian Association of Catholic Youth Ministers Jan. 14 to 17. Some 40 youth ministers attended his presentations at Star of the North Retreat Centre in St. Albert.
Bibby discovered from his new survey of more than 5,000 Canadian teenagers, including a special sample of aboriginal youth, that teens are decent people who love their friends and their music.
"For teens to be involved in youth groups today is to find their friends in them," the sociologist said. "It's not 'what' but 'who' is going to be there."
Some youth ministers at the conference admitted they are not in tune with the musical taste of teens, with one saying, "We are very much cursed there."
This is the first generation that has mastered technology before its elders, Bibby said. He urged youth ministers to tap into the teens' expertise in the area as a way to get them involved.
Fewer teens than before claim to believe in God and even fewer in organized religion. "It's going to be really tough to work with them," Bibby said, adding the Catholic Church is in a privileged position because of its Catholic schools.
The survey also shows teens want to explore sex. More than 55 per cent of teens in Catholic schools acknowledged they have been sexually active.
"It's not surprising that teens who value relationships highly want to express them physically," Bibby said. "If we have a situation where the Church is not talking openly about sex, we have a big problem there."
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