“Well, it’s simple – about 35 percent is the priest and the relevance of his homilies, 15 percent is the people who make up the faith community and the aesthetics of the worship space and 50 percent is the music.”
My mouth dropped as my roommate casually explained her process for choosing a new faith community. We were on our way to our first Sunday Mass at a nearby church, hoping to find a place we could worship on a weekly basis.
My roommate’s breakdown was so simple and logical, yet when she asked me for a similar breakdown, I could not get past the notion that a religious experience could be categorized and quantified. Isn’t the core of our Catholic faith, the traditions we all take part in on Sundays, universal? What does it matter if there’s an organist or a pianist, a young or old congregation or a sanctuary with a steeple or stained glass windows?
As Millennials, Americans ages 18 to 29, my roommate and I are a part of a unique generation, especially with regards to faith. A February 2010 study from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life named several key findings for this subset of the population:
- Americans ages 18 to 29 are considerably less religious than older Americans.
- Millennials are significantly more unaffiliated than members of Generation X were at a comparable point in their life cycle (20 percent in the late 1990s) and twice as unaffiliated as Baby Boomers were as young adults (13 percent in the late 1970s).
- Young adults also attend religious services less often than older Americans today.
- Compared with their elders today, fewer young people say religion is very important in their lives.
Thinking vs. feeling
I sat down in the pew that day rather perplexed by this looming crossroad. What is important to me in a church experience? How do I feel connected to God?
The cantor soon began the opening song and, an hour later, I knew I had found my new spiritual home for this season in my life.
I cannot provide a breakdown of what worked or what didn’t or what felt right or wrong, but I felt peace in my new surroundings. He had brought us to that very place on that Sunday morning to meet Him in whatever way He had planned for us.
A home church isn’t just the priest, the music or the décor – it’s our physical connection to the God who is so much greater than a building or a parish.
If you’re in transition or even if you’ve been settled in one location for years, don’t settle for the church that is closest in proximity. Find the place where you feel connected with Him and you will know when you’re home.