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“Making Space for Millennials,” Not Just Making Room

December 14, 2015

At the 2013 Theology on Tap series at St. Denis Catholic Community, a small group of young adults decided they wanted to continue fellowshipping. Now here we are in 2015, and the group of young adults is still gathering!

This year St. Denis was invited to join a Parish Catalyst Learning Community. At the September session, David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, was invited to speak about Barna’s book Making Space for Millennials. In the introduction, it reminds us that “the Church needs Millennials to continue Christ’s mission of redemption, restoration and reconciliation in the world. And Millennials need communion with Christ and His Body to bring wholeness and meaning to their fractured, frenzied lives.” Moreover, a spark of awareness has stirred up the desire to make space for this “need” which both our parish and our young adults share.

Thus, we have made room for Millennials in our hall, our office, our budget, and in the very life of our parish here in Diamond Bar, California. Many young adults have come and many have gone. We have hosted a variety of events and we have welcomed “Millennial wisdom,” but attendance is still not consistent. Some weeks there are 35 young adults at a fellowship, and other weeks there are only 9. But we are learning that making space for Millennials is not just about “making room.”

Last year, Sr. Edith Prendergast—previous Director of the Office of Religious Education in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles—taught me that worshipping God is “creating space.” Making space for Millennials is also “creating space.” This means we must be creative.  We can “make room” all we want, but if we are not creative in the ways in which we approach millennials, we will fall short of engaging the young adults of our time. For this very reason, the research from Making Space for Millennials points us to four design arenas: Culture, Ministry, Leadership and Facilities.

At St. Denis I feel that in many ways we have previously approached these four design arenas starting with Facilities and recently working on Culture. To offer one example of how we have tried to incorporate Culture in our ministry, I’d like to use our Star Wars Event. In October 2015 we bought an inflatable projector screen, brought out the big BBQ, and watched Star Wars “A New Hope” under the stars in our Courtyard. We had booths for food and snacks including Yoda Soda, Blue Milk (which was delicious), and many other creative ideas. We also had a Photo Booth with some Young Adults dressed up in Star Wars outfits. I have discovered that creatively “enculturating the faith,” to borrow the words of Pope Francis in The Joy of the Gospel, is one of the most important elements of our Millennial Discipleship.

So I recommend, during the Seasons of Advent and Christmas, that we call out to the most beautiful and creative Holy Spirit, the very presence of Jesus (especially in the Eucharist) to come and overflow “rivers of living water” from within us, His ministers serving the Millennials. May we create more space for worshipping God in our lives, and may His creativity brim over our cups. I pray that as we share that creativity in our Millennial ministry, we may also offer fitting worship to Christ our Lord.

By: Michael Ramirez, Young Adult Ministry Coordinator, Saint Denis Catholic Community, Diamond Bar, CA.

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