Back in the day, coal was considered a reasonable energy source. Mining for coal was a way for life in many a small town – it was risky but it could be profitable.
Early coal mines did not feature ventilation systems. The story is told that miners would bring a caged canary into new coal seams. Canaries are especially sensitive to methane and carbon monoxide. That made these little birds great early detection devices for dangerous gas build-ups. If the bird kept singing, the miners knew their air supply was safe. A dead canary was the sign for an immediate evacuation.
There are many theories, efforts, strategies, and experts all running around working towards helping the church figure out the new evangelization. We are mining new seams of thought and practice. But, in our arrogance or own need, are we addressing only our own adult culture of church for the present? Do we risk suffocation in our own hot air of intention and promises?
In 2014, Pope Francis visited Bethlehem and reminded us Today too, children are a sign. They are a sign of hope, a sign of life, but also a “diagnostic” sign, a marker indicating the health of families, society and the entire world. Wherever children are accepted, loved, cared for and protected, the family is healthy, society is more healthy and the world is more human
I would contend that young people are the diagnostic canaries of the Church. As we attempt to (re)build life into our churches, are we seeing that life carried through to the next generations? To be more specific, are the caged birds of our youth signing? And is there a planned to let the caged birds roam free?
What if we in youth ministry took the New Evangelization serious and/or vice versa? Youth would be the primary protagonists in spreading the joy of the Gospel.