Who Needs You to Share Your Faith?

share-gospel-pamphlet

Here’s the question: Who do you talk to about your Catholic Faith?

Should you share your faith with everyone? No one?

Seth Godin is more than a marketing guru. He’s a visionary thought leader who defined, and continues to refine, business and online communication. For those of you who think all marketing is sleazy, Godin’s ethical, personalist marketing will turn your head. I think Catholics can learn a lot from him. Actually, I wish all Catholic parishes did business as personally as Godin proposes.

Recently he said this:

“Marketers make change happen. Good marketing can change governments, heal the sick and bring a new technology to the masses. Marketers spend money (sometimes lots of it), take our time and transform our culture. It’s quite a powerful position to be in.

. . . .

At a recent conference for non-profits, a college student asked me, ‘what right does a public health person have to try to change the behavior of an at-risk group?’ That one was easy for me. How can they not work to tell stories and share information that will help those at risk change that behavior?

. . . .

For me, the line is clear. If the person you’re trying to change knew what you knew, would they want to change?”

In our society, religion is a private thing. You’re not supposed to share, or rather “impose,” your beliefs. Just keep it to yourself, man! I don’t NEED your morality!

But what if you do?

How can we not share information and stories that can help change the behaviors of those “at risk” of unhappiness, unfulfilled lives, and loss of purpose? Perhaps it’s merely my opinion and perspective. Perhaps they’re perfectly happy on their own and it’s none of my business. But if that person knew what you knew about God, would they want to change? There’s the real answer.

The gospel has the power to make change happen as well. It has changed cultures for centuries.

Who should hear it? Whoever would want to change if they knew about it. That’s actually not everyone, but it’s also not no one.

How do you know? If you get to know them, you’ll know.

How to Know You Have a Relationship with Jesus

commit-relationship-jesus

I was already a little tipsy when I started this conversation with Andre Regnier.

That didn’t make it any easier.

Marcel Lejeune and I had already indulged in a few beers at the social before we went over to Damon’s, a sports bar at the bottom of the hill Franciscan University is perched on.

It serves as the main hangout after activities at the  St. John Bosco Conference are finished.

Andre was at my talk earlier that afternoon and I was anxious to hear what he had to say. We had discussed evangelization the day before and he was intrigued by my topic–how to build conversion into your catechesis.

The conversation

“I loved your talk but something was missing,” Andre told me. I found out later he has this conversation with a lot of Catholics speaking about evangelization.
[Read more…]

Forming Intentional Disciples, the Resurrection, and the Name of Jesus

jesus-lives-resurrection

I recently had the privilege of meeting Sherry Weddell and attending her one-day workshop for Forming Intentional Disciples.

Her book is wildly sweeping the catechetical nation and creating quite a stir.

There’s so much to talk about from this workshop, but there’s one thing in particular that hit me.

It’s a problem I never recognized and then, after I heard it, didn’t believe it was a problem. However, now I’m convinced and see it as an essential element in parish evangelization.

That problem is this–Catholics don’t speak the name of Jesus.
[Read more…]

The Price of Not Evangelizing

The Price of Not Evangelizing

Is there a price for our failure to evangelize?

Does it really matter if we fail to tell people about the truth of Catholicism?

He never knew the truth

One of the RCIA candidates pulled me aside last Sunday to talk. He seemed a bit distraught.

He was so happy to be coming into the Church but also very upset that it had taken him so long to get here.

“I should have done this 15 years ago,” he said, “but I didn’t know. No one ever told me what the Catholic Church really taught. I’ve wasted so much time. I think my life would be different now if I’d done this years ago.”

He further commented that he never heard anything good about the Catholic Church. Protestants talked about the Catholic Church as apostate, the Whore of Babylon. So, he never even considered Catholicism as a possibility because of that. It was just off the table as an option.

The media never said anything good about the Church either. They portrayed it as medieval, antiquated, and out of touch. It was a ridiculous anachronism, and also not worthy of serious consideration.

All of this is misconception and misunderstanding of course, but he never knew. Now he regretted being kept in the dark for so long.

And we are to blame for not evangelizing

My first reaction was to reassure him and to tell him that perhaps it was just a matter of timing and God knew this was the right time for him to join.

My second reaction was to apologize to him. If Catholics were better at evangelizing, perhaps he would have known about the Church earlier. It hit me that our failure in evangelizing, in reaching outside the parish and tell people what we’re about was a factor in his not knowing the truth.

Traditionally the Church has been fine all by itself and didn’t think it needed anyone else. The attitude was–we are Catholic, they are not. We have the truth, they don’t. If they want the truth, they can come to us and we’ll give it to them. But we’re not going out of our way to find them and tell them about it. Why should we care?

Owning your own story

Marketers have this concept of owning your own story.

There’s a conversation going on about your business whether you’re participating in it or not. If you’re not, then someone else is telling your story. And, if it’s your competition or someone that dislikes you, they may be telling it wrong.

You have to have to tell your own story. If you’re the loudest voice out there about who you are, people will listen to you first before someone else. If you’re not, they’ll believe the others.

We’ve lost control of our story

That’s where we are. We’ve lost control of our own story. We’ve let other people tell it for us, and they’ve told it wrong.

For years we’ve been content to hang back and play in our own backyard, shunning the neighbors. But the neighbors have spread rumors and lies. Now no one believes us when we tell the truth about who we are.

What is the price of not evangelizing? It never used to be that much. Catholics had their own identity and were content to keep to themselves.

But now, even the insiders don’t know who they are. Worse, they look outside to Protestants and the secular media for their identity…and they get the wrong story. So the Church hemorrhages members like crazy because it seems ridiculous and no longer makes sense.

We need to change that.

Having a burden for evangelizing

Evangelicals talk about having a “burden” on their hearts. A burden is a deep conviction, a calling from God that can’t be ignored. The only way to get rid of a burden is to take action.

Catholics need to develop evangelical hearts, a burden for those who do not know Christ through the Catholic Church. It makes a difference.

People are perishing for lack of a teacher. The world needs the Catholic message. It’s starving for this truth.

If we don’t spread it, it won’t get spread. And people like my RCIA candidate will never hear it. To me, that really is a high price for comfort.

Image credit: jarmoluk on Pixaby.com

Sharing Faith Online: The Attitude We Need to Succeed

internet-evangelization

The other day I ran across an interview with a Protestant guy named Nathan Bingham.

I loved what he had to say about sharing faith online.

It seems weird to have to qualify his name with “Protestant.” It feels like it shouldn’t matter, but it does.

Anyway, we should all have this attitude in our ministries, classes, and online dealings. [Read more…]

How to Read Evangelii Gaudium This Advent

joy-gospel-francis

My friend Kelly Wahlquist is doing a cool thing over on her blog for Advent.

As you may know, Pope Francis just released a new apostolic exhortation titled, “Evangelii Gaudium,” which is Latin for “The Joy of the Gospel.”

Most people call every written Papal communication an encyclical. But there’s a few different types of documents put out by popes.

Jimmy Akin explains:

It’s a papal document that, as the name suggests, exhorts people to implement a particular aspect of the Church’s life and teaching.

Its purpose is not to teach new doctrine, but to suggest how Church teachings and practices can be profitably applied today.

Anyway, Kelly is hosting a daily Advent reflection series on Evangelii Gaudium. She and a bunch of other guest bloggers are writing reflections every day on small parts of the document.
[Read more…]

7 Essential Steps For Converting First Communion Parents

first-communion-parents

I’m about to embark on a daring endeavor.

I’m starting an education program for parents of First Communion students. The goal is conversion.

In one of my last posts, I wrote about meeting a woman I met at the St. John Bosco Conference that does something very similar. She has seven parent classes every month during the sacramental preparation year.

When she told me about her program, I was in awe…and a bit jealous. I wanted one!
[Read more…]

Tap the Power of Death in Your Evangelization

telegraph-death-life

The toughest thing in evangelization is grabbing attention.

Time is a precious commodity. Only the urgent gets attention.

If people don’t perceive an immediate need, they blow it off. Unfortunately, that’s often what happens with religion.

Kids, job, household needs, and just surviving…those are immediate needs. It’s not clear how faith impacts life right away so it can go on the back burner and just be forgotten.

So how do you make Catholicism urgent?

Recently, I read some advice to writers that got me thinking about a way.
[Read more…]

The Biggest Mistake in Teaching Doctrine

teaching-doctrine-milk

“But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready, for you are still of the flesh.” 1 Corinthians 3:1-3

What’s the biggest mistake you can make when teaching Catholic doctrine?

Well, first let’s talk about what you should do.

In my post about keeping faith real, I talked about how to present the Catholic Faith in a compelling way that moved people to take action on what they learned…to integrate it into their lives.

I contrasted this to presenting the Faith merely as facts to be learned.

Whenever I write about stuff like that, people write in and tell me I’m wrong. They say doctrine is the key. They assume I’m talking about not teaching doctrine and advocating a “feel-good, sing along” kind of fluffy catechesis.

So, why does teaching the Faith in a compelling way automatically mean you’re not teaching doctrine? It’s as if doctrine is by default dry and boring and there’s no way to make it exciting. Just grin and bear it because there’s no way to change it.

Don’t misunderstand me. I also think doctrine is key. I just think you’re making a big mistake if you teach too much too soon and don’t respect the stages of evangelization.

You may think you’re doing more by teaching doctrinal complexities to children and unconverted adults, but really you’re doing less. They won’t remember and they won’t care.
[Read more…]

3 Examples of How Blogs Keep Faith Real

blogs-real-faithI’m still excited about the concept  I talked about in my last post on the enrichment of faith.

To me, this CNS article on Catholic mom bloggers was a perfect example of how powerful blogs can be in keeping faith real.

Here’s three ways the social web contributes to the enrichment of faith and forms an essential element of the new evangelization.
[Read more…]