Just this week, we were presented with two very different pictures of our youth and their interest in the church.
Monsignor Vincent Blackett would seek to impress upon us that Christianity is “alive and well”, and that the numbers of “young people and young families” attending last Easter’s services, in particular, were “heartening”.
Indeed, from the perspective of the Barbados Roman Catholic Church, this is a “good sign”, as the monsignor himself put it. Truly, we are happy for him and his church, and trust that the results he speaks of so positively are sustainable.
Pastor Ricky Kirton of the Halls Road Church Of The Nazarene can make no such claim. Against a background of “not enough” people generally turning up for services, he laments that parents are no longer encouraging their offspring to attend church –– furthermore insisting that they do.
Pastor Kirton lamented last Easter that people were no longer turning out for Easter services in the numbers they used to –– and ought to.
The preacher said that from his dealing with schools he had come to realize many children no longer went to church; perhaps some had never gone at all; and that we as a nation were at risk of raising a generation unfamiliar with church culture –– and by extension, we might add, salvation and spiritual upbringing.
Almost certainly, such unfamiliarity will breed an incomprehension of God and little or no appreciation for righteousness among our youth.
While we give kudos to Monsignor Blackett for his success with his congregations, we cannot help but be concerned with Pastor Kirton’s dilemma –– no less than Jesus would have been. We must care, no matter how “fewer” the delinquent, young churchgoers are.
So [Jesus] told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. –– Luke 15:3 to 5.
It is no secret that these days almost every single youth has moved onto the information technology platform. Once there is access to a table computer, laptop or the seemingly ubiquitous smartphone, our young will immerse themselves in the benefits and joys of the Digital Age. Aren’t they constantly being reminded by all and sundry that new media is the way to go.
We do not dismiss the benefit to selves and country –– for pleasure and for business –– this information technology and world connectivity that surround us may accrue. But constraint must be the watchword.
Obsession with the technology must surely be a distraction from genuine God worship on Sunday –– the day of rest and reflection, that has morphed into 24 uninhibited hours of WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
It isn’t every new set of wares that is thrown at our youth by the techie innovators and marketers that they must blindly and recklessly gobble up.
Our young need as much spiritual development as they require the technology so eagerly pushed in their faces. These touted problem-solving and entertaining new media will not always live up to their reputations; but the Almighty always will to His: there when you need Him, when no other will do, and nothing else will work.
We must impress upon our offspring and other young of the importance of the intervention of the old analytical human mind –– this unique element that will decipher right and wrong, if you will let it. To avoid this caution is to plunge our youth into the abyss of confusion, disorientation and despair.
And let us seniors not seek escape from responsibility in the notion that our youths having no time for God is just a fad, and like many other things in vogue will fade away with time.
That’s codswallop, and an insult to God –– which could only place our unattended youth on the path of self-destruction.