Saturday, February 28, 2009

Catholic Faith Formation - Evangelical Style

Below are my comments to the New Evangelization in America Conference in Dallas on January 31, 2009. I was asked to participate on a panel titled “The Ecumenism of Evangelization – A Protestant-Catholic Dialogue” which was moderated by The Most Reverend Stephen Blaire, Bishop of Stockton and President of the Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs (USCCB). On the panel with me were other Catholics and Protestants.


NEA Comments –SDW 1-31/2009

I am a Catholic of 11 years, having spent the first half century of my life as an active lay Evangelical.

Since my conversion I have spent my time and money on trying to explain Catholic teaching to Protestants through my writing and television series that has aired on 6 different Protestant and Catholic networks through my distribution company, Nineveh’s Crossing.

Our most popular project, COMMON GROUND, was produced by Evangelicals and asks the question “What can Protestants and Catholics Learn from Each other.” There are brochures outside for Nineveh’s Crossing that explain how you can get a copy. The DVD and study guide are being used in RCIA and Bible Study programs across the country.

Our American bishops in “Our Hearts Are Burning Within Us” challenge us that while we may have the fullness of faith, there is much we can learn from the ardor and methods to evangelize which our Evangelical brothers and sisters successfully apply.

In that same document our bishops layout a number of strategies – strategies that I think have solutions found in Evangelical Christianity.

Allow me to mention two.

The first strategy our bishops charge parishes with is LIFE LONG ADULT EDUCATION..
The evangelical solution to that is Sunday School I think there are 10 characteristics that make up a successful Sunday School program, and I think Catholic parishes need to adopt these if they expect Catholics to be Christian.

1. Classes should be PRACTICAL, not THEORETICAL
2. Organize classes around demographic needs of people
3. The classes should be structured to fulfill the community dynamics afforded by small groups
4. Founded on Bible and Church Teaching
5. Enjoy constant promotion from the pulpit
6. Led by gifted volunteer LAY leaders who are great and even charismatic facilitators, who are also leaders in the community and business with evangelical hearts.
7. Classes must be FREE (not $80 for 8 weeks)
8. Meet EVERY Sunday 52 weeks.
9. Meet in platoon fashion with the Mass Schedule
10. You should not consider them a success until their attended by 50% of those that come to Mass.

The second strategy our bishops charge us with is KNOWING THE BIBLE.
The Evangelical solution to that is more emphasis on the Bible, per se.
Here are seven things we can learn from Evangelicals to do that.

1. During the liturgy of the word the reader should begin by saying “Open Your Bible Please and read with me.”
2. Personal Bibles should be promoted and sold.
3. Bible Memory programs and contests for children through adults should be celebrated thru-out the year.
4. TEEN Bible Quizzing and Tournaments (where entire chapters and books are memorized by teens) should be international in scope.
5. Homilies should be preached with the Bible in hand.
6. Parishes should have annual Bible Conferences where expository Bible preaching is perfected.
7. Use the Bible not the lectionary. SHOW the people (physically, visibly, like the sacraments) where the readings are coming from.

These two tactics are among many others highlighted on a webpage titled Best Practices of Faith Formation at my website Please visit.

I’m convinced, from 50 years of exposure to them, that they will significantly help lukewarm Catholics, who tend to go through the motions, become excited about the things of God.

Oh, yes, one last thing:

Fast and pray for spiritual revival in the Church.

Thank you.

1 comment:

  1. SO encouraging to read this!

    I was Protestant but became Cathol;ic 7 yrs ago and this has been my burning passion.

    Catherine Clarke