When we started TeamRCIA in 2007, millennials were barely a thing. That year, the oldest of them was in their mid-20s. Today, the youngest of them is in their mid-20s and the elders are just reaching their 40s.
What have we been seeing at TeamRCIA?
Honestly, for most of our history at TeamRCIA, we haven’t noticed much interest from people that young. On day-one, we had no demographic history to analyze, but our own experience and intuition told us that most catechumenate ministers were in their 50s and older.
And that turned out to be true for a long time. We take a careful look at our website traffic at least four times a year. Every quarter, for almost 15 years, the people who clicked on our website usually had gray hair.
But lately, we’ve seen a shift. It started with our live trainings a few years ago. We began to notice a few people in their 30s and even 20s showing up. And at our recent review meeting, we saw the graphic above (click here to see a larger version).
The graphic represents everyone who has interacted with TeamRCIA.com in any way throughout 2021. Notice the bar that is second from the left. It is the highest of any age group. It is the young millennials (25-34).
The bar third from the left is the older millennials (35-44). If you combine the two, the millennials are blowing away Gen-X and the Baby Boomers when it comes to signing on to TeamRCIA.com.
What can we do with this information?
We’re stunned. We don’t know exactly what it means, but it means something. Study after study has shown that the millennial generation is stampeding to the exits of our churches. This trend from our website analytics shows the opposite of that. At least for the TeamRCIA community, the millennials are leading the way for not only remaining in the church but bringing others in as well.
The TeamRCIA community is not representative of all of Christianity, of course. We don’t even represent all of catechumenate ministry. We know that parish initiation teams that are looking for easy, programmatic solutions are not interacting with us much. The teams that value what we do at TeamRCIA tend to operate according the six principles of initiation ministry given to us in the rite.
Which makes us wonder. Are millennials more attracted to an initiation process that is not programed to be a one-size-fits-all experience that starts and ends on the same dates every year? Are they drawn to participate in a process that is flexible enough to engage each seeker on their own unique spiritual path? Are they more interested in encounters with Jesus than lectures on the catechism?
These are our biases, and we want to believe these are the kinds of reasons we are seeing a spike in millennial participation at TeamRCIA. However, we are not sociologists, and there may be more mundane explanations for what our website report is showing us. But until we get a more scientific explanation, we’re just going to go with the belief that the Holy Spirit is at work shaping the next generation of catechumenate leaders.
How you are you inviting and incorporating millennial participation on your catechumenate team? How are demographics playing out in your parish? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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