How was the early Church so successful in handing on faith, even in the face of such incredible obstacles?
That’s a question John Henry Cardinal Newman once posed in a sermon that defined his career.
It’s a fair question. After all, the first century Roman culture wasn’t exactly virtuous.
The early Christians lived among hedonism, promiscuity, infanticide, and cutthroat commerce…not unlike today.
So here’s another fair question. Why are so many young people leaving the Church when we have better resources for teaching the Faith than ever before? We really do. Textbooks, videos, guides, and sophisticated educational methods…the resources we have for handing on faith are better than any time in history.
Don’t get me wrong, I know faith formation is hard today. There are so many obstacles in the culture that work to undermine faith. But it’s not like the early Christians didn’t face many of those same problems…or worse.
At least today we’re not being thrown to the lions or burned at the stake for going to Mass…although, at times that seems to have been a catalyst for belief.
The answer to Cardinal Newman’s question made him one of the most effective catechists in the history of the Church. I think his discovery has great implications for us today. It’s what we’ve lost sight of in our religious education programs–teaching that moves student’s hearts and leads them to faith.
A few weeks ago, I did a webinar for Ave Maria Press all about Cardinal Newman’s methodology and what he called “real assent.” In it, I did a deeper dive into Chapter 3 of my book, Keep Your Kids Catholic: Sharing Your Faith and Making it Stick. I included greater detail on Newman’s ideas that I couldn’t fit in the book, as well as examples and practical how-to’s.
The webinar was titled, “What Every Parish Leader Ought to Know About Religious Education.”
As the title suggests, it was for parish catechetical leaders, but it’s not high level stuff. I kept it practical, and I think it would be good for anyone, teachers and parents alike.
In this webinar, I explain in depth about:
- Why youth are leaving the Church despite our amazing resources.
- The psychology of engagement and handing on faith.
- Why religious education programs are failing.
- The kind of teaching that engages students and increases faith.
- Concrete steps to implement this in your classroom.
The first 35-40 minutes are my presentation and then I answer questions.
Take a look. I think you’ll like it. I’m told it was the most popular webinar Ave Maria hosted this year.
Do you know a parish leader looking to improve classroom engagement? Or, a catechist who wants to engage more with their students? Please share this webinar recording with them.
Image: Handing over the faith, robyelo357, Abobe Stock, Standard Licensing