How to Start a Discipleship Group the Easy Way

Having just observed how desperate Catholics are for serious discipleship, I'd be remiss if I left you hanging on how to meet that need. Here's about fifteen years of experience with discipleship groups across a variety of contexts (evangelical, Catholic, young adult, grown-ups, mixed-generations, mixed-gender, single-gender, etc. etc.) summed up in a blog post that will, yes, actually tell you what you need to know.To start a discipleship group you need three things:1. A leader.2. … [Read more...]

What Teens (and Everyone Else) Want: Serious Discipleship Time

In conversation with Devra Torres, she commented: I'm starting to think that the habit of EVER addressing persons in clumps is a terrible idea, even though it seems so efficient and realistic. In fact, that's one of the main points of personalism, but one that's taking a while to sink in for me. Her remark couldn't have been better timed.  One of my challenges lately has been explaining to bystanders that what often looks like a "club" or a "clique" in a parish may in fact be a very effective … [Read more...]

Why Does the Ascension Matter?

This is my annual reminder of why we bother with all this Jesus business.  If you're not in it for this, I'm not sure what you're doing.  First ran at the Wine Dark Sea. *** We think of atheists as the people who actively deny the existence of God, but there’s a much more pernicious and widespread atheism among religious people today: Faithy-ism. We talk about God, and do God-themed activities, but we don’t really mean it.  It’s all just a metaphor.  Our spirituality consists of our deeply felt … [Read more...]

The Shame that Breeds Helplessness is Destroying Our Parishes

There was some debate among internet-Catholics about the recent findings by the Pew Research Center concerning the growing departure of young people from the faith - any faith. Some were asking whether the statistics were accurate.I had an impulse: How about an informal poll?  My parish youth program has a private Facebook group, and I figured we had a good pile of parents of older children -- kids in that target 18-30 age range.  Maybe our youth director keeps tabs on what becomes of the pro … [Read more...]

Survey Results: What Would Make it Easier for Families to Learn About the Catholic Faith?

The responses to the first Listen to Me survey have been astounding so far.  If you are charged with the care of souls, could I recommend you do this?  It takes about twenty minutes to whip together a Google form, and then you have a free, confidential way to ask open-ended questions that let people tell you what they are really thinking.  Even the shy people.  Even the people you think you have pegged, but really you don't.Do this, guys.  You'll be stunned at what you learn.FYI, survey s … [Read more...]

Preaching: What Works? Why Does it Matter? – Updated

Father Longenecker* writes about his frustration as a homilist here, and he raises a good question: Does good preaching matter?  And if so, what kinds of homilies (or lectures) are effective, and what effect do they have?I'm going to answer as someone who teaches the Catholic faith outside the pulpit, who's been subject to the very best and very worst of Christian preaching and teaching, and who spends an awful lot of time with Catholic lay people who say the things they don't say around … [Read more...]

Three Great Ways to Help Parents Teach Their Children the Faith

In a follow-up on the topic of getting the parent-Church relationship right, here are three best practices to add to your arsenal: 1. Peanut Butter and Grace Susan Windley-Daoust writes: Jen, thanks for the Patheos article on what's wrong with parishes doing religious ed as first responders. A number of people have forwarded it to me, saying, PB and Grace is addressing this!Well, we hope so. If you want to take a look, its a new small Catholic press dedicated to making family faith … [Read more...]


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