“Who should the parish spend its resources and time evangelizing?” That was the terribly loaded question I posed to a hall packed full of eager Catholics. Now this group was different. This group wanted to do something about the emptying churches. This group wanted families to be stronger and the ethical issues of our time resolved. This group wanted their fellow parishioners to be in love with the liturgy, the Scriptures, the Church and of course Jesus Christ.
And this group, which exists within every parish (albeit in smaller numbers than we would hope), consistently answer the question incorrectly.
“The youth.” That’s what they said. Hey, that’s likely what that same group at your parish would say.
And this is why the only money that your parish will probably spend on outreach this year is on a teenage outing. This is also why the only money that your parish will probably spend on programming is very likely to be spent on Confirmation. And yes, this is also why the only other ‘minister’ officially employed by the parish will have the word ‘youth’ in front of it.
Can you imagine the early Church evangelized that way? It never would have gotten off of the ground. Hardened soldiers would have never given Christianity a second look. Philosophers and the wise would have stuck with theories that pacified their consciences. Deathbed conversions never would have had a chance. You get the idea.
We don’t get to be selective when we evangelize as parish. If you want a revitalized Church you simply cannot pretend that one age demographic will solve all of our woes.
If our current models of parish evangelization are not working (and they’re not), then we need to come back to what does. And we do that by looking at who needs to be evangelized; a group which I assure you, is much larger than those who cannot drive.
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