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Study finds youth groups destroy Christian faith in young people June 2, 2014

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, disaster, Domestic Church, Ecumenism, episcopate, error, family, foolishness, General Catholic, scandals, Society, Virtue.

A study commissioned by a protestant organization has found that Christian youth groups, with an infantile approach to the faith and a focus heavily on being “hip” to this fallen culture, are a predominate factor in driving many young people from Christianity.  Mind, this study looked at Christians in general and not Catholics, but the Church has mimicked disastrous protestant programs in recent decades and has reaped the same whirlwind of devastation:

A new study might reveal why a majority of Christian teens abandon their faith upon high school graduation. Some time ago, Christian pollster George Barna documented that 61 percent of today’s 20-somethings who had been churched at one point during their teen years are now spiritually disengaged. They do not attend church, read their Bible or pray.

According to a new five-week, three-question national survey sponsored by the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches (NCFIC), the youth group itself is the problem. Fifty-five percent of American Christians are concerned with modern youth ministry because it’s too shallow and too entertainment-focused, resulting in an inability to train mature believers. But even if church youth groups had the gravitas of Dallas Theological Seminary, 36 percent of today’s believers are convinced youth groups themselves are not even biblical……

……..“Today’s church has created peer dependency,” McManus says. “The inherent result of youth groups is that teenagers in the church are focused on their peers, not their parents or their pastors. It’s a foreign sociology that leads to immaturity, a greater likelihood of sexual activity, drug experimentation and a rejection of the authority of the Word of God.

I was going to go on about the Prussian school model and the isolation from the family it tends to engender in children (indeed, it was designed to do just that), and how it is unsurprising that when Christians – including the original Christians, Catholics – perpetuate this model by dividing up families and having special Masses for this group, special programs for that……it tends to be self-defeating.

The family is the Church in microcosm. As goes the family, so will go the Church, and vice versa.  Anything that tends to negatively affect the family – such as educating children away from parental influence, with huge emphasis given to how their peers perceive them – will negatively effect the Church.  Lifeteen Masses, CCD, teen youth groups with often highly questionable programs – all these things at least tangentially weaken family unity.  They also help further inculcate children in the culture of peer dependence noted above, and when many young adults today are not just unfaithful regarding their religious duties, but are out and out atheist-communist enemies of the Faith, it is not surprising that so many of these young souls fall away.

So many of these programs are adopted almost unthinkingly, in a spirit of imitation that demonstrates both a lack of understanding of the Faith and of human nature.  Catholic parishes have “vacation bible schools” because protestant sects have them. They even use the same, protestant-generated teaching materials!  That’s just one small example, I could continue on and on through the entire panoply of mimicry. It shows how deranged from the right understanding and practice of the Faith so many in positions of authority in the Church have become.

Anyway, go to Mass as a family.  Don’t go to goofy, gimmicky “special” Masses.  Home school.  Pray together daily. Carefully monitor your kid’s activities, especially on the computer. You can’t guarantee you’re children will remain faithful throughout their lives, but if you do the above, demonstrate virtue, and avoid obvious vice you will immeasurably increase the likelihood that your kids won’t fall away from the Faith.



1. Lorra - June 2, 2014

I agree that they are infantile. In our parish, the youth minister should retire as she is getting on in years, and there is nothing youthful about her anymore. Our “youth group” spends a lot of time taking “feel good” trips to other parts of the country to help people. As if there aren’t enough people to help in their own backyard already. As if we have no poverty and want in our own area.

I see no point in youth groups at all.

2. discipleofthedumbox - June 3, 2014

“…with an infantile approach to the faith and a focus heavily on being “hip” to this fallen culture, are a predominate factor in driving many young people from Christianity.”

I would apply the above to Protestant megachurches and the like who endeavor to do the same with adults. One Rockwall megachurch comes to mind…

We see this pattern throughout scripture wherein the ancient Israelites endeavour to become more like the nations until there are pratically indistinguishable from them.

Susan J Melkus - June 5, 2014

Amen! We found out the hard way. Our adult children are still struggling with the faith, but I am praying to St. Monica for them and trusting that God is bigger than the mistakes we made those many years ago when we were going to ‘churches’ that split up families. Upon returning to the CC 9 years ago, my husband commented that it was nice to see gray heads and babies in the same place again. Lord have mercy.

3. David - June 3, 2014

I am wondering if this study mentioned that at least half the teens are basically forced to come by their parents, or are “required” to attend for things like service hours. This half are often the ones who cease attending the day after high school graduation.

Sadly, some of the parents that send their children do not attend church regularly either. Once these children are confirmed, grandmother is thrilled that their grandchild was confirmed, and the child never sees the walls of a church again.

4. ANNE - June 3, 2014

All literate Catholics must be reading/studying: a “Catholic Bible”
and the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition” at home.
This includes parents as well as those over age 14.

Catholic education starts at home as the primary responsibility of the parents. The Church is there to assist not take full responsibility.
Catholic parents can not teach accurately, what they do not know accurately.

“….. let us ask ourselves if we have actually taken a few steps to get to know Christ and the truths of faith more, by reading and meditating on the Scriptures, studying the Catechism, steadily approaching the Sacraments.” – Pope Francis, May 15, 2013.

“What Catholics REALLY Believe Source”

Anonymous - June 3, 2014

It has shaken my faith to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition, and then find that many of the clergy, even popes don’t follow it.

For instance, the CCC, which JPII claimed was a “sure” guide, talks at length about the certainty of Hell and that we can expect most people to go there, but the Youth Catechism (YouCat), which claims to base itself on the CCC, implies that Hell is empty or close to it. Pope Benedict was in charge of both Catechisms when he was Cardinal Ratzinger.

Then, Pope Benedict writes in “Spe Salvi” that almost everybody gets to heaven, without explaining the contradiction.

Jesus mentions Hell about 90 times and Heaven about 28 times. If we can’t rely on Jesus’ word, plus1900 years of tradition, then we might as well throw away the Bible and the Faith.

Tantumblogo - June 3, 2014

I strongly recommend either the Catechism of St. Pius X (aka “the penny catechism”), or the Catechism of the Council of Trent, over the modern catechism, either edition.

Rey - June 4, 2014

I don’t understand your critique. YouCat, 53 & 161 clearly define and teach about Hell. There is a quote from Pope Benedict XVI to the side of YC, 53: “Jesus came to tell us that he wants us all to be in Paradise, and that Hell—of which one speaks little in our time—exists and is eternal for all who close their hearts to his love.” – BENEDICT XVI, May 8, 2007. So, let’s be fair with Benedict, who also said in Spe Salvi: “With death, our life-choice becomes definitive—our life stands before the judge. Our choice, which in the course of an entire life takes on a certain shape, can have a variety of forms. There can be people who have totally destroyed their desire for truth and readiness to love, people for whom everything has become a lie, people who have lived for hatred and have suppressed all love within themselves. This is a terrifying thought, but alarming profiles of this type can be seen in certain figures of our own history. In such people all would be beyond remedy and the destruction of good would be irrevocable: this is what we mean by the word Hell” (Spe Salvi, 45) Should we expect an encyclical about Hope to tell us we are hopelessly condemned, or, that there is hope of salvation in Christ? Or, where does Benedict contradict himself in that “almost everybody goes to heaven”?

Rey - June 4, 2014

The YouCat even poses the question in 162: “But if God is love, how can there be a hell? God does not damn men. Man himself is the one who refuses God’s merciful love and voluntarily deprives himself of (eternal) life by excluding himself from communion with God. [1036-1037]. – God yearns for communion even with the worst sinner; he wants everyone to convert and be saved. Yet God created man to be free and respects his decisions. Even God cannot compel love. As a lover he is “powerless” when someone chooses hell instead of heaven.” And on a side quote it cites Matthew, the end of the quote is Mt 25:46, “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life”. Should the YouCat have posed the question, “How many are or who is in Hell?” There is no such teaching as to the number or the identity of the damned. This silence however- and I agree with your concern on this- doesn’t mean and should be interpreted as if there is no one in or nobody goes to hell and that by presumptuous deduction we could infer that everybody goes to heaven. It would be heresy to say or imply that Heaven is a sort of an automatic or forced “concentration camp” in which everybody goes to regardless of their moral actions and faith response to God. The answer against this heresy is the catechetical question and teaching about freedom, a freedom to choose God and His way to salvation. The opposite of this ultimate free conscious choice for God (or at least the good that conscience calls us to and away from mortal sin) would be Hell. And Hell would be as real as this freely conscious evil choice against God and His way for salvation and/or for mortal sin as a grave sin done knowingly and willingly without repenting. And I’m just realizing that we cannot talk about hell without linking it to mortal sin … and the unforgivable Sins or Blasphemies against the Holy Spirit, which is lacking in the YouCat (and in my opinion, even in the Catechism that briefly mentions it in 1864 and that I would edit by referencing St. Thomas Aquinas’ elaborate teaching on these in the Summa Theologiae II-II q14. I must confess that I learned about the 6 Sins against the HS- and about mortal sin- in the Penny Catechism when I first read it in the seminary!) Okay, so I guess we essentially agree that our catechetical presentations of the faith are not perfect and could be clearer and more incisive as to provoke conversion, like the Penny Catechism, in my opinion, clearly provoked in me.

Sharie Stockard - June 4, 2014

How about “My Catholic Faith” by Louis R Morrow

Tantumblogo - June 4, 2014

Yes, I mentioned that in another comment. It’s generally very solid.

5. ANNE - June 3, 2014

All Diocese Bishops and Parish Priests must start encouraging all literate Laity to read the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition”
through very prominent locations on their Diocese and Parish web sites, as well as Church bulletins, and from the pulpit.

Diocese Bishops must teach and correct as necessary those who advertise themselves as Catholic but are publically obstinate in mortal sin – via Canons 915 and 1399.
Scandal causes confusion.

DISUNITY, relativism, heresy, schism, and confusion, – all within the Church – must be stopped.

“….the CATECHISM has raised throughout the world, even among non-Christians, and confirms its purpose of being presented as a full, complete exposition of Catholic doctrine,
enabling everyone to know what the Church professes, celebrates, lives, and prays in her daily life.” – Saint Pope John Paul II (CCC pg xiv)

6. D.O.T.C.O.M. (@DOTCOM_MOM) - June 3, 2014



Our parish priest spends OOOOODDDDLEEESSS of time running the youth group (at the expense of many of my—and God knows how many others–spiritual direction, cancelled at the last minute due to the demands of the youth—who, mostly do not even belong to our parish…).

He justifies the intense obsession he has with the youth group because, through it, it has brought many young souls into both the convent and the seminary.( My parish priest is one of the 6 Washington dioceses vocation directors as well) . No doubt, it has been fruitful, but, he is rarely available for those in his own parish. Not to mention that fact that he’s adopted the horrific habit of constantly texting–even while at the dinner table—,scheduling meetings through his cell phone. It has REALLY gotten out of hand….

I pray he is not texting while in the confessional….

7. D.O.T.C.O.M. (@DOTCOM_MOM) - June 3, 2014

Oh… and I forgot to mention a new, atrocious term, coined by the youth group: “FLASH MASS.” Adults (including the pastors) find the term endearing because un unplanned mass is being begged for by the youth group. Every time I hear it, I can’t help but think: “REALLY? I thought it was HOLY Mass!” *sigh*…

8. D.O.T.C.O.M. (@DOTCOM_MOM) - June 3, 2014

So, after protesting the term “FLASH MASS,” to my “catholic” homeschool group, I received the following reply from a woman—so, apparently holy, that my pastor quotes her In the confessional—,

“Wanted to let you know that the term ‘flash’ is a catchy attraction to the younger generation. And it is used to promote a spontaneous expression of unity. In this case….. The celebration of the summit of our faith, the Mass. I hope you are able to go to one. It is most reverent. Often with lights out. Traditional hymns. Incense. The altar lit. The homilies deep and profound. And the generql age of attendees is college and high school. At St. John’s we are able to kneel at the altar to receive the Blessed Sacrament. A beautiful gathering of the church community.

The youth and young adults are the future of our most awesome Church. And they are leading in a most powerful way. May we support this call to holiness. Celebrating Mass and living the faith.”

9. Maggie - June 3, 2014

I was invited to give a short pro-life talk to our youth group about 2 years ago. There was another speaker invited who did not show up so I got to speak for a half an hour or so instead of 10 minutes. I spoke the truth of things. With 15 year old girls coming for abortions regularly, things need to be spoken of. The young people were in rapt attention. I was never invited back. They had just finished some race game and often have pizza parties. Some youth groups come to pray at the abortion mill but not my parish. They also did the thing about how difficult it is to have a baby –not sure if they took the mechanical baby home–but that does not prevent abortion! They need to know about chastity. We have a ‘teen mass’ with drums, etc. but I do not attend. Meanwhile another parish offers a weekly TLM and students from the local college are coming more and more.

Michael King - June 4, 2014

“Meanwhile another parish offers a weekly TLM and students from the local college are coming more and more.” Yes! I went to university in the crazy 70’s and had my socks knocked off when I attended an Eastern Rite Mass for the first time. No gimmicks, just the Mass as St. John Chrysostom left it in the early 5th century. I began attending the Byzantine Catholic Parish on a semi-regular basis and always felt God had been glorified, not only by the objective presence of Christ’s sacrifice, but by the human ritual and celebration in which it was clothed. Had the ancient liturgy of our own rite, the Mass of Pope St. Gregory the Great, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Catherine and the bulk of the Western Church from the 5th century until 1965, been made available, I am sure my friends and I, struggling to be good Catholics in a secular setting, would have attended regularly.

10. TG - June 3, 2014

“I am wondering if this study mentioned that at least half the teens are basically forced to come by their parents, or are “required” to attend for things like service hours. This half are often the ones who cease attending the day after high school graduation.” – this was me in raising my now grown children. Because of my failure and bad example of not attending Mass, my children fell away from the faith. I am doing what I can for my grandson now and actually teaching him and talking about God so that he can understand the faith. I thought my children were being taught the faith at CCD but they weren’t or at least it didn’t make an impression upon them. As a result my son still finds Mass boring. Please pray for my children and grandchildren. This is my cross now. St. Monica, pray for us.

11. Rey - June 3, 2014

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The Christian home is the place where children receive the first proclamation of the faith. For this reason the family home is rightly called “the domestic church,” a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity.” (CCC 1666). That parents make discples of their children is I hear- by this blog and the original article preseting the results of the study on youth- the solution to rescue our youth instead of youth groups. But I think that this is also the problem that youth groups, and CCD/Confirmation programs for that matter, were meant to solve. The general lack of faith literacy, at least among Catholics, makes parents unqualified or feeling unqualified and not responsible for making disciples of their children!
This is an urgent call for evangelization and faith formation among adults in general so to prepare them- ourselves- as responsible disciple-makers, and parents first of all of their children.

Tantumblogo - June 3, 2014

I think your point is well taken. CCD and youth groups were initially started to inculcate the Faith in those who weren’t getting such inculcation at home, or to supplement home education. But they have become ends to themselves. Furthermore, there are so many massive problems in almost all parish formation programs that one must discern very carefully before involving an adult in such programs, let alone a child. The fundamental problem of all such programs (and this is not strictly a Church-related phenomenon) is that they tend to cater to the lowest common denominator, and over time, the bar gets lower and lower. I was exposed to youth groups in a protestant context for many years, and save for one brief exception got no formation whatsoever out of them. And even in the case of the exception, the formation was highly questionable!

The problem today is that very few parents feel equipped to undertake the formation themselves. But for those who are, and I would like to think that readers attracted to Catholic blogs are already pretty committed to the Faith, I think grabbing a Baltimore Catechism/Catechism of Council of Trent/My Catholic Faith and teaching their kids themselves is by far the best way to go.

Rey - June 4, 2014

The lack of formation of our laity remains the problem of our Church today. And until this is overcome structurally and systematically, I think that we have to put up and do our best with the remedial structures we do have-ie., CCD programs, youth groups, etc.
I believe that well-formed (not just “trained”) catechists and youth leaders do make a difference as to the fruitfulness of such a program. With these formed disciples guiding or working in such programs, it would and should certainly have a positive salvific effect, because the CCD or youth group experience will be a discipleship (disciple-making / disciple-becoming) experience.
We can gripe all we want about the inadequacy about these structures or programs, but if it weren’t for them at this moment, I wonder if we would really be better off?!
My personal experience of conversion and coming into a committed Catholic faith life in Christ and with the Church was thanks to a Cursillo retreat I lived while in high school. I was a declared atheist at the time, but went along into the retreat because an aunt talked me into it with the help of some peers too. I came from a non-practicing (or practically atheist) family, so Cursillos took the place of a faith family I never had. Even after joining the seminary and during those years, my parents were never fully supportive of my vocation. Now I’m just a committed layman, but I cannot deny what Cursillos, the spiritual director and the group of mentors and peers I came in contact with did to change my life. ¡De Colores! Cursillo was my crib in the faith, not my family.
In our current vast desolation of any or very little practical faith in most Catholic Christian families, such inadequate programs may be the only chance to reach out to children and youth in spite of their unbelieving and/or non-practicing parents.
And maybe those mature in the faith should- instead of griping or doing away with such inadequate provisional means to transmit the faith- give of themselves more and commit to evangelizing and forming others in the faith.
The predominant proposal I see here of doing away with everything pastorally deficient seems too drastic to me. The solution of looking out for your own and your family’s conversion seems almost self-centered or egotistical besides presupposing a faithful family situation, that is generally, currently and ecclesially unrealistic. I hear the advice to run away and save yourself and your family, but how would this apply to the lost sheep? Nowadays we seem to be holding on to the one inside the church fold while 99 are out there lost! Maybe were complaining that the fence has reparable gaps…?

12. Church Youth Groups Destroy Faith… « Catholic Truth - June 3, 2014

[…] Anyway, go to Mass as a family.  Don’t go to goofy, gimmicky “special” Masses.  Home school.  Pray together daily. Carefully monitor your kid’s activities, especially on the computer. You can’t guarantee you’re children will remain faithful throughout their lives, but if you do the above, demonstrate virtue, and avoid obvious vice you will immeasurably increase the likelihood that your kids won’t fall away from the Faith.  Source […]

13. David - June 4, 2014

One thing I did not like about high school youth group was several members would just be your friend on Sundays, at outings, or on retreats. At my public high school, these members would be back in their cliques and pretend not to know you.

I enjoyed going Sunday night, but by third period on Monday the cliques were back, and I would be depressed and upset. Monday afternoons after a retreat were the worst, particularly when I could have made extra money at my part time job.

Baseballmom - June 4, 2014

Those other kids were “compartmentalizing” their Faith. This is what is promoted throughout the culture today… Totally anti-Christian…

14. Rachael - June 5, 2014

It is not only youth groups but the church services in general that are compromising in order to try to please people rather than God. Wearing casual clothes to lead a worship service may make some people temporarily feel more comfortable, but it is not honoring to God and shows a lack of respect for Him. Rock music in the church , and I refer to rock as in “sex, drugs and rock and roll,”. Is not only a hedonist saying, but a reality in that they often go together. Rock music has a strong beat and brings out a physical reaction rather than a spiritual one, but don’t take my word for it, ask a friend who has the gift of discernment and see what he says. I have even heard young people who went to check out these casual dress rock music services say, ” I wouldn’t call it church, I’d call it a gathering , it is not sacred.” I could go on but it would be better for you to read your Bible than to read my words.

15. Rachael - June 5, 2014

Amen to the comment about Hell from anonymous !

16. Susan J Melkus - June 5, 2014

Only in affluent, consumer-driven countries does this topic even become a discussion. Think of our brothers and sisters in war-torn countries, going to (just) Mass, not a ‘flash Mass’ and the likelihood of their being shot on the way to or from the Holy Mass! Or blown up while at Mass! It gets put into perspective really fast, eh? They go to Mass as a family and die as a family. Not one shiny electrik geetar screeching out a “praise tune” to be found. Hm.

17. Susan J Melkus - June 5, 2014

How did the boy/youth, Francesco Forgione, aka: Saint Padre Pio even remain Catholic without a ‘youth group’ and a ‘flash Mass’? One just has to wonder. :/

Rey - June 6, 2014

What was Don Bosco famous for if not his Oratories for troubled youth? Was not Dominic Savio a good fruit from Bosco’s oratory youth groups?

18. Kelso - June 5, 2014

Many times one hears what is in YouCat that the lost in hell have condemned themselves. Rey says the same above in quoting YouCat. This is true. However, man is not the judge, God is. Sinners who die unrepentant do exclude themselves by cutting themselves off from God’s love, refusing to keep His commandments. Nevertheless, it is Jesus who pronounces the judgment not the sinner. “Depart from me . . .” No believer would ever say that man “saves” himself. No, Christ saves those who cooperate with His grace. “Come you blessed . . .” We must “fear Him who has the power to cast body and soul into hell” Jesus says. The Judge passes the judgment” And it is He who must be feared. “Yea,” Jesus says, “fear Him.” To say that man damns himself is true, but not the whole truth.

19. GM - June 5, 2014

Catholic Youth Ministry and the Harlem Shake! Coppell, Texas http://youtu.be/rr_C80t_zgk

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