On October 15, nearly sixty young adults gathered in Ellicott City, Maryland to ask life's big questions and hear the Good News of the Gospel. Over the course of seven weekly meetings, these young adults discussed the meaning of life, why we need a Savior, why the resurrection is important, and more. Each evening began with a meal, served by fellow young adults, and included a live presentation by a young adult speaker.
In this young adult Discovering Christ, friendships formed each week over a delicious dinner and an engaging discussion on a core aspect of the Gospel message. A welcoming environment was created, where young adults could feel free to share their true thoughts and feelings on the Good News of the Gospel.
The high point of the course came during the day-long Holy Spirit retreat. The retreat centered on the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. Jesus Christ wants to give us the Holy Spirit to fill us with his love—all we need to do is turn away from our sins and surrender to him as our Lord and Savior. During a special time of prayer most of the young adults attending the retreat went to pray with a prayer team, making the decision to turn away from sin and surrender to Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Clearly the Holy Spirit was at work!
During the last gathering, young adults were given the opportunity to share testimony of how Christ worked in their lives over the 7-week experience.
- "[Discovering Christ] has helped me to realize that I am not alone in my fears, doubts, struggles, and questions. It has helped me to realize that asking questions is a great way to grow closer to God. Most importantly, I have realized that I am not alone in this Journey and that God is so good."
- "It has pointed out the need for community on my walk of faith and brought me to the realization that I need Jesus and the Holy Spirit present and active in every part of my life."
- "It has inspired me to further seek out moments to plant seeds in others' lives. As a whole, I feel re-energized in missionary discipleship and wanting to spread Jesus to others. After this third time through the course, I am still finding new inspiration."
This young adult Discovering Christ experience was hosted by ChristLife Young Adults, a ministry of ChristLife. ChristLife Young Adults (CLYA for short) is a ministry responding to the urgent need to evangelize young adults both within and outside the Catholic Church. There is a growing body of data showing that young adults are defecting from the faith in growing numbers. A recent study entitled, “Going, Going, Gone: The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics” by St. Mary Press and the CARA Institute found that 12.8% of young adults ages 18-25 in the US are former Catholics. Of those former Catholics, 35% joined the growing number of “nones” (no religious affiliation)1.
Most of us don’t need the statistics to tell us this because we see it playing out before our eyes in our local parish. All of us have young adults among our family and friends that have stopped attending Church either during or after college. This reality raises important questions:
- How can we create welcoming space for young adults to find community and begin to see Jesus and our faith in a new light?
- How can we help young adults have a life changing encounter with Jesus Christ?
For 10 years, ChristLife Young Adults has been an evangelizing presence in the greater Baltimore/Washington D.C. region. We have run Discovering Christ eight times over those ten years in multiple settings, such as a bar, a Knights of Columbus hall, and on a college campus. When not running Discovering Christ, CLYA focuses on discipleship, evangelization, and catechesis as we grow together in our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Weekly Tuesday meetings begin with communal praise, worship, and prayer, and then transition to a discipleship topic to learn from and discuss together. Following the ChristLife Evangelization Process, we provide opportunities where young adults are led to a personal encounter with Christ, formed in the lifestyle of a Catholic disciples, and equipped to evangelize others in everyday life.
Over 10 years, we have seen many amazing testimonies of young adults:
- returning to Church
- entering RCIA
- going back to confession
- having a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ
- finding friendship and communal support in their faith
- entering vocations to the priesthood, religious life, and holy matrimony
- becoming passionate evangelists in their families, workplaces, and even in the streets!
As a follow-up to the recent Discovering Christ course, CLYA is leading young adults in the Following Christ course, which began January 21. As another generation of young adults is seeking to be formed as disciples and evangelists, we thank God for the fruit this ministry has born in the lives of 100’s of young adults over the past 10 years.
In order to sustain and grow this ministry into the new decade, we are looking for mission partners who want to sow into the young adults mission field with us. Will you become a CLYA mission partner to fund CLYA for 2020 and beyond?
1 Christopher White, “New Study Seeks to Understand Why Young People Leave the Church”, Crux, January 17, 2018, https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2018/01/17/new-study-seeks-understand-young-people- leave-church.