Just got back from the Good Friday service in Melbourne and I couldn’t help but notice that the 15-35-year-old age group wasn’t well-represented. I know it’s a long weekend and that’s probably the reason behind their lack of representation. However, I must admit that it is common for their group not to turn up to Sunday masses as well.
How old must one be to start going to church? I suspect the younger generation go to church with their families up to some point that they can either be left at home or are brave enough to tell their parents that they’d rather sleep in or check their Facebook than to spend an hour with the Lord.
While some people carry on practising their faith all throughout their life, some return to the fray after years of absence. Catholics tend to take a leave of absence for a few years and come back when their silver or grey hair start to appear. I don’t think they stop believing in God in all those non-practising years. It may be just because they’re too busy or exhausted to come to church on a regular basis. Could it be that they feel invincible and the concept of being dependent on a higher being seems ridiculous? Could it be that Catholicism is no longer enough for them? I don’t know.
Over a year ago I was invited by a friend to join her in a Hillsong service. I was very reluctant to do so as I had a fair idea of what happens in their days of worship. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), it was her birthday so even if my whole being was telling me to say ‘no’, I said ‘yes’.
The first part of the service included a few people watching a video of a preacher talk about prayer. After that, we were put into small groups and asked to share our thoughts on the topic. My friend knew I wasn’t comfortable talking to strangers, so she tried to shield me from this. I, however, impressed her by sharing a few of my own.
The next part was the main service, which included a lot of singing (and dancing if you wish) and preaching. You can liken it to a big production concert, complete with solo and band performances, lights and sound system, audiovisual presentations, and most importantly, audience participation. I felt like a fish out of water the whole time. Praying, singing and dancing with about 500 people, mostly composed of 15-35-year olds, aren’t normal to me. I was greeted with so much fervor to praise and know more about the Lord. I saw people not only listening attentively but also taking notes during the worship. They were nodding their heads in agreement and responding with so much energy. I hate to say it, but I’ve never attended a Catholic mass that was oozing with this much passion. So although I found it strange to be in their presence, I somewhat envied what their Christian group possessed.
I only went to a Hillsong service once and have yet to return since. I have no plans of going back either. I don’t think their way of praying is wrong, it’s just not for me. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer the Catholic services I grew up attending every Sunday.
I know that the Catholic Church may need to up their game if they wish to attract or retain the teens and adults group. However, we all know you can’t please everyone. Moreover, I guess as long as we believe, pray and love one another as Christ has loved us, then it doesn’t really matter which church we go to. Amen?