Finding Faith in today's youth - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Finding Faith in today's youth

Youth members at Mount Zion Church in Oakwood Village. (Source: WOIO) Youth members at Mount Zion Church in Oakwood Village. (Source: WOIO)
While nearly 80 percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians, only 37 percent say they regularly go to church. There is also
one segment of our population that no longer believes God exists. 

19 Action News takes a look at what some in Cleveland's religious community are doing to bring millennials back into the fold.
 
At Hillsong Church in New York City, thousands pack the concert-like services every Sunday The church has 10 million followers on social
media, including Justin Bieber and NBA star Kevin Durant. Church leaders feel by making faith fresh, the crowd will embrace the traditional Christian message.
 
“The message doesn't change,” said Brian Houston, Hillsong Senior Pastor. “Sometimes if the church isn't going to change the methods,
then it will become irrelevant.”
 
At Mount Zion Church in Oakwood Village, the method is to get young people involved with the service.
 
What all faiths struggle with these days is that the millennial generation, ages 18 to 33, is relatively unattached to religion.

“I think the challenge is that sometimes young people have a problem with following tradition, and I think that the thing the church needs to do
is bring them in, in a non-traditional manner,” said Larry Macon Jr., Mt. Zion Co-pastor.
 
Mt. Zion has children and youth church to attract young people and keep them once they hit those disconnected years.
 
“If you have anything in your mind you can let it go in church, cry, worship, everything; it's just a powerful place,” said 16-year-old Janetta Edwards, Mt. Zion member.
 
To engage the kids, they also use media and video.
 
“We can have fun but still talk about the Lord,” said 13-year-old Joshua Evans, Mt. Zion member.
 
At Church of the Holy Angels in Bainbridge,  it's a very young congregation. The average age is under 40.

“I think that's sometimes the disconnect for millennials is that they see faith as being different from their daily life so we try to teach people
the connection,” said Fr. Dan Schlegel, Pastor of Church of the Holy Angels.
 
One of the ways they reach out is through social media.
 
“About 70 percent of the Catholic population is not coming to church on Sundays on a regular basis so what we try to do is to push the information put to them where they are,” said Fr. Schlegel.
 
“There's the Twitter feed, the Facebook page and also you'll find one of my favorite tools which is called FlockNote and via FlockNote I can send
a message via text, I can send a message via voicemail and I can also send a message via email,” said Alex Yates, Director of Youth & Adult Ministries.
 
With seven millennials on staff, they post sermons online and even created a video library. “So that if someone wants to dive deeper into our faith
they can go to our website,” said Vince Roman, Communication Director.
 
“Our experience is that once people are here, it's a good experience,” said Fr. Schlegel. “The homilies are recorded on the weekends
and I've had people as far away as Afghanistan who have listened to the homilies, shared them with troops there, so the important thing is to make sure the message goes forth.”
 
“People like St. Paul the Evangelist certainly would have used every means possible to be able to preach the word of God,” said Fr. Schlegel.
 
“In this age group it's tough finding jobs, finding people to have relationships with, finding a person to marry, it's really great to
have a place where you can go and work on your relationship with God for those important issues that are going to be lifelong,” said parishioner Catherine Lanzilotti.
 
“You always feel so uplifted and encouraged after being here and Father Adam's homilies really relate well to my daily life,” said parishioner
Christie Lanzilotti.
 
“A lot of the youth members visit by word of mouth,” said parishioner Kathleen Yates. “Kids at school say they're going to a retreat and
invite friends and that's how a lot of kids end up coming and staying.”
 
“You can get the Word of God on you iPad, on your iPhone and you can look at interactive Bible studies from your own church and so I think
the church just needs to kind of keep up with what attracts young people,” said Macon.
 
The message at Mt. Zion is, young people need faith.
 
“We know sometimes they're going to stray away but we always need that door open and they come back,” said Macon. “That's why I feel the
church is important because they'll be back.”
 
Copyright 2015 WOIO. All rights reserved. 

Powered by Frankly