Former Anglican now Catholic apologist Taylor Marshall has an interesting couple of posts about why Catholics are attracted to megachurches and what to do to woo them back.
I was at the bank and somehow I got into a spiritual conversation with two Hispanic executives that worked there.
Why the Megachurch?
When I asked why they exchanged the Catholic Church for the megachurch, they gave me a number of reasons:
- “My new church has an iPhone app. I can go on my iPhone and get Bible studies, sermons (video and audio). When I travel I can still watch the sermon, either live or later. I feel apart of the community.”
- “The preaching is dynamic and speaks to my life. I find practical encouragement.”
- “I felt judged at the Catholic Church.”
- “People were not friendly or welcoming at the Catholic Church. The first time I went to my new church, I was welcomed by so many people.”
- “My new church has classes and courses that are interesting and helpful.”
- “The music is better.”
I asked both about the Eucharist: “Don’t you miss the Eucharist?”
This question didn’t phase them one bit. “Oh we still have communion. They pass out little crackers and cups of juice. I like this better because I thought drinking from one big cup is icky. Spreads germs.”
“But in the Catholic Church,” I replied, “we believe that the Eucharist is thereal Body and Blood of Jesus?”
I may as well have said, “Don’t you know that there are Martians in my back pocket.” She was unaware that the Catholic Church taught this. No idea.
1) Start a small group. People must feel connected. Legion of Mary. Bible studies. Knights of Columbus. We overly clericalize this. You don’t need a priest to have a group of people studying Proverbs. Just pick a regular date on the calendar and make it happen.
2) Organize men’s conferences and men’s groups. Look around. Men are the shrinking demographic in Catholic parishes.
3) Create a system of mentors. Old women should regularly meet with younger women. At least that’s what St Paul teaches (Titus 2:3-5).
Old men should do the same with young men. Reconnect the generations. The older folks should initiate this. Young people are too afraid to ask.
7) Stress the NEED for the seven sacraments. You baby needs to be baptized. You need confirmation. You need the Eucharist to have life in you. You need confession to wash away your mortal sins. You need extreme unction at the end. Sacraments aren’t good ideas. They are necessary gifts that Jesus wants to lavish upon us. To reject them is to reject Jesus.
8) Preaching. Homilies should do two things. They should expound the readings and the Gospel especially. Reverend Fathers, tell us about the Word of God – not about local events and your latest ideas about whatever. People will perish without the Word of God. Secondly, homilies should have action items. Challenge us. Ask us to do things. Push us. Tell us to pray the Rosary every day and to read the Bible every day. Tell us to invite our neighbor to Mass. Tell us to go to confession more often. We may actually start doing these things!
9) Revamp RCIA. RCIA has a reputation for being other than what it was designed to do. First, it’s called RCIA. Sounds terribly lame. Sounds like the DPS or DMV or IRS. Catholic initiation should be standardized and doctrinally sound. Catholic initiation should feel like joining a 2,000 year old global tribe.
10 Holy Eucharist. We covered this above in the sacraments section, but I wanted to stress reverence. If Eucharistic ministers are wearing strapless dresses, Grover shirts, and the altar servers are chewing gum, guess what? The whole fiasco screams the wrong message: “This ain’t really God. It’s just bread. Welcome to the snack-rament.” The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should feel and look like a sacrifice. Incense. High altar. Chant. It shouldn’t look like a megachurch with some felt rainbow vestments and a rushed Eucharistic prayer. Even if a person has never heard the word “transubstantiation” they should something like this: “Wow, this Catholic service is entirely different. Something profound is happening here. I want to learn more.”