“How do I get my kids to come back to the Church…”
That’s the question I got again and again when I became a parish DRE.
News traveled fast that I came back to the Catholic Faith after abandoning it for 20 years. Older folks would ask me what changed my mind and what they could do to bring their adult kids back into the Catholic fold.
I would tell them what worked for me and make some suggestions, mostly prayer…but I never had a very good answer.
That’s why I’m super excited about RETURN, a new project from my friend Brandon Vogt. RETURN is a collection of resources to help parents draw their children back to the Church.
- 16 video lessons with 220 minutes of content.
- A paperback book/companion guide.
- 10 video interviews with Catholic leaders like Dr. Scott Hahn, Jennifer Fulwiler, Fr. Michael Schmitz–experts at helping people come back to the Church.
- “Seed Gifts”: 12 of the most effective DVDs, books, and CDs to give your fallen-away child.
- And access to a private, online community where you can get ideas and share with others in the same situations.
Addressing the need
What I like about RETURN is that it’s addressing a need that hasn’t received much attention.
Most people, including me, work on prevention–how to keep your kids Catholic. But for tons of people, it’s too late for that. Their kids are already gone!
What do they do? Before RETURN, I didn’t have an answer. Now I do.
“There are many resources devoted to helping people, in general, come back to the Church,” says Vogt. “They contain broad tips which can be applied to friends, co-workers, or even people you interact with online.”
“However, as we all know, the parent/child relationship is so distinct from other relationships. There are things a parent can say or do that will have a much bigger impact on their child than on a friend or coworker, and on the other hand, there are things parents shouldnot say or do to their child, simply because of their relationship,” he said.
“I thought it was time that parents and grandparents had a resource specifically designed for them, one that took into account the delicate, unique bond they have with their child.”
Just be patient, they’ll come back
Vogt’s program tackles the myths about fallen away Catholics head on…especially the passive approach.
“Probably the biggest one [myth] I hear from parents, priests, and Church leaders is, ‘Oh, they’ll come back to the Church eventually once they get married or have kids. Let’s just be patient.’ That may have been true in decades past—though even that is controversial—but studies have affirmed, again and again, that it’s no longer true today,” Vogt related.
“Overall, the ‘wait-and-see strategy’ is just a losing game, he said. “Let me pose a thought experiment: what would the CEO of a Fortune 500 company say if he learned that 75% of his customers just stopped buying the company’s products? Would he say, ‘Oh, no big deal. Let’s just sit and wait for them to come back. They’ll probably come back one day, right?'”
“No! He’d do everything in his power to track down the former customers, reconnect with them, answer their objections, and re-propose his products in new ways.”
“We parents, priests, and Church leaders should have the same reaction. In light of the millions of young people who have left the Church, we can’t respond by saying, ‘Let’s just wait for them to come back.’ We need to say, ‘Let’s do everything possible to help them return!'”
I couldn’t agree more.
I asked Brandon if he could share some practical tips from the program.
“After talking with hundreds of parents and young people, I’ve noticed several patterns—some good, some bad—that we can learn from,” he said.
“Two things to always keep in mind,” Vogt explained. “Ask questions and stay positive. Questions are largely neutral, or at least seem that way, and don’t sound ‘preachy.’ When you ask a question, you aren’t actually stating your own view. Many times, you’re helping your child see that his beliefs are not as firmly supported as he might think.”
Some of Vogt’s favorite questions include:
- “What pushed or pulled you away from the Church?”
- “What’s the one thing that would cause you to come back to the Church?”
- “What do you think is the best reason to be Catholic and why doesn’t it compel you?”
“You also need to stay positive. Don’t focus on all the negative things your child is doing; he’ll just tune you out. A better approach is to affirm the positive. If your child doesn’t attend Mass because he thinks it’s boring and irrelevant, affirm his desire not to be a hypocrite—that’s a good thing. Once you’ve affirmed something positive, he’ll be much more open to hearing what you have to say.”
“The biggest mistake I see parents make is trying to force their fallen-away child to Mass. In their mind, f they do that, they’ve succeeded,” Vogt said.
“Now, this stems from good intentions. Most parents know Jesus is present at Mass in a special way, so they want to do everything possible to get their children to show up. The problem is that if someone comes to Mass unwilling and unprepared, it will likely have no effect on him,” he explained.
“You must plant other seeds first so that he’ll actually desire to attend Mass. The Mass should be the last piece of the puzzle.”
“The second thing not to do is criticize his lifestyle—at least at first. Beginning with moral commandments is often a non-starter for young people,” Vogt continued.
“This doesn’t mean you should just watch silently and passively as your child makes bad decisions. Instead, it means your first approach should be marked by gentleness and patience, not criticism.”
How to get it
Visit ReturnGameplan.com to take a look at the full program.
However, you have to act today! The offer expires tonight. After tonight you won’t get the special price and bonuses.
Check out this program and send the link to a friend who’s children have left the Church. I’m sure you know someone who could benefit from these resources.
I’m positive these resources will give you a game plan for combating this vital problem.