By Jeff Dixon
Each generation is a little bit different than those that came before it. To help youth leaders reach this current generation, Frank Mercadante presented a workshop at Our Mother of Mercy, Beaumont, Oct. 16, to youth ministers and those who work with youth on how to better reach the current generation, the Millennials.
Millennials refers to those born between 1982-1995 which includes young adults and those that would be in parish youth groups currently.“A lot of the common assumptions that we have about youth and youth ministry were developed with other generations and they don’t hold true with this generation. We have to rethink how we do things and rethink youth ministry,” Mercadante said.
He pointed out the major differences in how this current generation interacts with the media as a crucial point in addressing their needs.
“Previous generations were used to broadcast news and sitting in front of a television and hearing from experts. Millennials take a much more active role. They post comments on articles and blogs and post their own YouTube videos,” Mercadante said.
Mercadante stressed that youth leaders need to find new ways to involve youth in parish ministries and activities.
“This generation has really been reached out to by politics and the media and made to feel part of the process and they need that same feeling in church. Just putting something in the bulletin is not going to do it you have to seek them out,” Mercadante said.
Don Stagg, assistant youth minister at Our Mother of Mercy, Beaumont, said the workshop opened his eyes to the current generation.
“The biggest thing I learned is that because of the way the media and the internet are involved in their lives we have to have an understanding of that. We have to change our way of thinking about working with kids because of the way that technology is involved,” Stagg said.
Craig Lansford, youth leader at St. Mary, Cleveland, said the presentation hit home for his parish.
“We have a big group, and they want to do things and get involved. We know that, but this presentation told us how to reach out to them. It really got me thinking about new ways to reach them and ways we haven’t tried before. We’re going to be talking about the internet and how we can use it more effectively,” Lansford said.
Mercadante is the executive director of Cultivation Ministries and specializes in training youth leaders.