October 28, 2016
As most parishes and pastors know, reaching out to the young adult crowd has become exceedingly difficult. They’re distracted by the latest trends, don’t usually consider God as important in their lives, and can be fickle with commitments.
At St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Triangle, VA Theology on Tap started as an outreach to the young adults in our area. We saw this as a way to engage them on their turf and on their terms. Last summer, we had Brother Casey, a Friar studying for the priesthood, start up the young adult ministry during his internship at the parish. However, once he left there was a void that needed to be filled. When I was hired, part of my job involved reaching out to the young adults at the parish. We tried hosting different events and social outings with moderate success. However, it wasn’t until we started Theology on Tap at a local bar in Woodbridge that we were able to bring in a good-sized crowd. Our first one began in April with around 30 young adults from the parish and the local area. During the next one in May, Brother Casey paid us a visit as he was passing through town. He talked for almost two hours with college students, young marine cadets (we’re right next to Quantico Marine Corps Base), and young professionals about social justice, the Eucharist, and how it all fits into our life. Our event in June was on the topic of faith and sports. This drew a smaller crowd, but allowed more time for relational ministry during the event itself. We have several more speakers lined up for future talks this summer and into the fall.
We wanted an event that would engage the young adults, be attractive, and be off the church property. When talking with the parish staff about implementation, we agreed that having events off the main campus would be the most effective. We attempted to meet the young adults on their terms. We’ve had a good amount of success doing this so far!
Our desired outcome was for young adults to encounter Christ, put their faith into action, and grow closer to one another in community. By engaging them at a neutral location, we hoped to gain their trust and bring them into our parish community. So far, this hasn’t happened exactly as we would have liked. The talks have served to inspire our young adults, but haven’t translated into them coming to our parish.
We plan on continuing these Theology on Tap events and using them as a springboard for discipleship within St. Francis of Assisi Parish. Keep us in your prayers!
By John Lilly