Various surveys indicate that while a large number of young adults are strong believers in God, many do not feel connected to His Church. In a recent study, 80 percent of people in their 20s said their faith is very important in their lives and nearly 60 percent claimed to have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. Three-fourths of this age group told The Barna Group Ltd., a research organization based in Ventura, CA (Web site: www. http://www.barna.org), that they had prayed at least once during the past seven days.
But in a typical week, just three out of 10 "twenty-somethings" attend Mass. Only 30 percent of adults in their 20s donated to a church during the past year; the same percentage reads the Bible during any given week.
Some blame the Church for not having more programs geared toward this age group. They believe young people feel disconnected and feel that the Church does not reach out to them; therefore, they abandon the Church, yet remain believers of God.
Others blame the demands of their numerous young-adult responsibilities-spouses, children, careers, school, etc. These responsibilities can be overwhelming and seemingly use up all their available time, talent and treasure.
The reality is that with God all things are possible. Is what we are giving Him reflective of how much He has given us? If not, we need to start scheduling our time with God as the priority. Put Him on your schedule first and then schedule everything else around that. Give Him a proportion of our wages and then pay the bills.
The first step is to get more involved by contacting your parish, asking about the different ministries and joining one that interests you. If your parish is conducting a ministry fair, be sure to attend. If your parish does not have a ministry you would like to join, offer to start one and take the lead. Many parishes conduct their stewardship renewal and ministry fairs in the fall, so this is an excellent time to get involved.
If joining a ministry is not for you, then consider how much time you are able to offer, your level of commitment, and your talents. There may be other things you can do without joining an established ministry. For example, if you are handy, offer to fix the things around the parish or offer to mow the lawn and cut the shrubs.
The "treasure" part of stewardship means giving God a portion of your wages first and then paying the bills. It is a scary thought, but by doing so your gift becomes sacrificial- coming from your substance and not from your abundance. When you give from your substance rather than your abundance, a conversion takes place. The things you think you need are placed second to helping those who lack basic necessities. You begin to act on a belief that security lies in your relationship with God and not in your material possessions.
Because today's young adults are the Church's future, this group is uniquely positioned to shape the Church for many years to come. What will the Church be like 25 or 50 years from now? Will there be enough active Catholics to support all the parishes we have today?
Much has been written about the shortage of priests, but without more young people becoming involved in the Church today, where will tomorrow's time, talent and treasure come from?
One answer to these important questions is stewardship. Today's young adults need to be involved in their parishes to make sure there will be a Church for future generations.
When you become involved with your local parish and to other worthy causes, you will see the positive difference in your own life. A person who sows sparingly will reap sparingly, and one who sows bountifully will reap bountifully.
Finally, please join us at our annual Stewardship Day on Nov. 3 at Paramus Regional Catholic High School. Contact Lynn Gully, the associate director of stewardship and special projects for the archdiocesan Office of Development, at (973) 497-4589 for more information, or visit the Web site www.rcan.org/stewardship.
(Editor's note: Carla Gonzalez is the executive director of the archdiocesan Office of Development.)