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

Why Catholics Don’t Share Their Faith

embarrassed-faith-rosary

When you were a kid, did you ever have a friend in school you were embarrassed to be with around other people?

Sure, you liked him well enough when you were in class or by yourselves.

But he didn’t act like everyone else and said things that other kids thought was strange.

So, because school society was ruled by the small, but vocal, group of “popular kids” who dictated the norm, you didn’t hang out with him at lunch recess. It wasn’t right, it wasn’t even what you really thought, but you were trying to survive.

But things are different now…right? Well…
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Are We Teaching Families What They’re Supposed to Be?

pope-francis-questionnaire

Did you get the questionnaire from the Vatican?

Even saying that is sort of strange.

Has there ever been a questionnaire from the Vatican? I love Pope Francis!

If you have no clue what I’m talking about, I’ll fill you in.
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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…]

Night Flying and the Perils of Comfortable Christianity

Comfortable Christianity instrument panel

It was dark outside.

Really dark, a moonless night.

I could hear the hum of the engine. It’s turns rhythmically vibrated up through the seat and all through my body.

The cockpit was illuminated with a dim red light from the instrument panel. It was just enough to see the approach map strapped to my knee, but not enough to obscure the lights from the city below.

It felt warm, cozy, comfortable. The plane was like a little protective cocoon moving me through black sky seemingly insulated from harm. Every now and then the air traffic controller came on the radio and gave us another heading to fly.

It was the coolest feeling. I felt safe.
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Christmas: God With Us

Christmas - God With Us

“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” (Matthew 1:23)

God is with us.

The idea is old hat to us. We kind of take it for granted.

Yeah, God assuming human nature means he was with us. He was one of us. It sort of goes with the Christian territory.

But that is such an amazing thing! No other god was with his people. No other god was one of them. That is unheard of. Sure, the Greek gods took human form, but they didn’t live our condition. It was a masquerade, a deception…usually for some ulterior motive like sex.

Greek gods used their power to exploit people. They used them for selfish gain. Love? To the point of self-sacrifice? Forget it! Why would they love? It seems they were almost incapable of real love…almost like us.

They lusted. They brokered for power. They manipulated those underneath them.

God is with us.
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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.
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What’s Your Spiritual Reading Plan This Year?

ignatius-study-bible

Is it too early for New Year’s resolutions?

Not when you start with the new liturgical year!

Last October, Pope Benedict asked the whole Church to study the Catechism for the Year of Faith.

At that time I challenged myself and you to take him up on that–to read the Catechism in a year with Flocknote’s “Catechism in a Year” program.

Now the Year of Faith is over, and I can honestly now say that I’ve read the whole Catechism…twice.

It wasn’t easy. There were some bumps in the road. I didn’t always read every day. Sometimes I had to catch up on 4 or 5 emails at a time because I was too busy when they came in. But I did it!

Now that it’s over…what to do? What are you going to do? Well here’s an idea.
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Get Your Kids Reading the Bible (And Not Hating It)

kids-bible-reading

Do you want your kids to grow up reading the Bible?

Yes, I know you’re Catholic. That’s why I’m asking.

The Bible is central to the Church’s theology and devotional life, but we don’t teach our kids to read it.

Here’s a plan I developed over several years by trial and error to get my kids into the habit of reading the Bible daily. And they actually like it…most of the time.

It’s not complicated and I’m sure you’ll be able to use it too.

First step: Read to them

I first got my kids reading the Bible for a family catechesis program I was running at my parish.

A large part of it was Bible reading. The kids were to record the minutes read each month, and turn them in for various prizes. There was also an award at the end of the year for the number of minutes read. So, I came up with this plan out of desperation. I couldn’t run the program and not have my kids do well.

At first it was kind of easy. They were too young to read. The program, however, counted minutes I read to them. So I did.

At night, before they went to bed, I read them Bible stories. I started with children’s storybook Bibles. These Bibles tell the stories of major players like Noah, Moses, Abraham, and David in the Old Testament…and of course Jesus in the New. The Beginner’s Bible was one of the first. Short and simple. Every story is just a couple of pages. Perfect for very young kids. When we finished one, I’d get another. I used Catholic and Protestant Bibles. At that level, there’s really nothing to worry about. There’s no real difference.

As they got older, I moved up to reading longer storybook Bibles. These added more stories and more detail. Again, there are some good Catholic versions but the Protestant selection is fantastic. My favorite ever is the The Jesus Storybook Bible. The subtitle is “Every Story Whispers His Name.” That just about says it all. This is how it’s meant to be done. It presents the Bible as a unified whole, and every story fits together to form the larger, overarching story. Every Old Testament story makes the connection to how Jesus is prefigured, and the New Testament stories connect back how Jesus fulfills the Old Testament.

At this level, you have to be careful with Protestant materials, though. More theology is mixed into the stories and sometimes they’re wrong. For instance, in The Jesus Storybook Bible, at the Last Supper Jesus says, “This is like my body.” You’ll have to correct that when you read or point out the differences in Catholic belief.

Another good Bible at this level is the My First Message Bible. The Message is kind of controversial because it uses very colloquial language. Whatever your opinion on that, it works well for children. This one is nice because presents the story in a lectio divina format and asks appropriate questions in each section to spark discussion. My kids really got into this. We had some great conversations while reading this Bible.

Next step: They read to themselves

Don’t give those storybook Bibles away after you’ve read them because you can use them again.

When your kids start reading, they are the perfect level. They can begin with the simplest ones and work their way up.

We established a routine of reading the Bible before bedtime. Their goal was five minutes a day. Of course, they could read more if they so desired. Often they did. Five minutes doesn’t like much, but it adds up. And it’s not that taxing.

Finally, graduate to a real Bible

When they outgrew the story Bibles, perhaps around 5th grade, I got them real Bibles.

I started with paraphrase translations like The Good News Bible. Some disagree and think kids should have a “real” real Bible, like the New American translation. I think the best Bible is the one you’ll actually read. If the language is too literal and stuffy, kids will be turned off and reading will become a chore. You don’t want that. Catholics are notorious for having beautiful, leather bound Bibles that look great and never get read. Don’t get your kids a keepsake. Get them a Bible they’ll enjoy reading.

So, there’s my plan. It’s worked out great with my kids. Along with this, we did The Great Adventure Kids study to help them understand the biblical big picture. That’s an essential step for helping kids understand what they’re reading. Over the years, mine have built up quite a bit of Bible knowledge. I’m often surprised by how much they know.

Parenting Takeaway

It’s essential to develop a habit of Bible reading in your children to help them stay active in their faith. Studies have shown that regular devotional activities like reading the Bible are significant factors in the lives of religiously active teens. Teens need that concrete, active expression to stay in touch with God.

Bible reading is so vital for every Catholic’s spiritual life. We’re supposed to love Jesus and have a relationship with him. But how can you love someone you don’t even know? The Bible makes relationship with Jesus real because you can truly encounter him there.

What’s your experience with children and Bible reading? Do you have any other strategies or plans for helping your kids develop this habit? Let me know in the comments. 

Photo Credit: abcdz2000 via Compfight cc

This post originally appeared on CatholicMom.com as part of my Parents as First Educators series.

Link: 100 Blogs by New Media Catholic Priests

priests-blogging-keyboard

How many priests do you know well enough to ask advice? 5? 10? 100???

One of the awesome things about the internet is access.

Access to information, talent, resources, and people.

Once upon a time, if you wanted to interact with a priest, you were limited by your geographical region. Had a question burning in your brain? Want to bend their ear a bit? If they weren’t knowledgeable or didn’t have time for you, it was hard luck.

The internet is changing all that.

I ran across this post, 100 Totally Awesome Blogs by Catholic Priests, compiled by Joseph Adkins of the Catholic Dating Sites blog. He got together links to 100 blogs written by Catholic priests. I really did not know there were 100 blogging priests out there.

I don’t know how good all these blogs are…but don’t you think it’s cool that there’s 100 priests who blog?

I can’t vouch for all the sites, but I have run across many of these priests on social media. Here’s some I know. The text below is reproduced from the post (although, I do add a few comments of my own here and there indicated by italics):
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