Let me introduce today’s topic with a bit of a story. Before I even started college, I knew that I wanted to be involved at the Newman House. A quick note for those who might not know what Newman Houses or Centers are: Newman Houses/Centers are organizations predominantly at non-private universities/colleges for Catholic students to be involved with their faith.
I didn’t stick around Newman for a week, month, or even a semester. I became involved, and stayed involved, with Newman all four years of university. And even after graduating, I still visit from time to time. Over the course of the four years of university, most, if not all, of the people I hung out with were from Newman. And I grew in my faith life and I wouldn’t change my choice of becoming involved with Newman.
But this is contrary to something that is prevalent in American society:
But why would people leave the Church?
There are a few reasons I can personally think of for people leaving the Church (and this list is by far not extensive):
- A bad experience with a priest.
- A bad experience with a sacrament, like Reconciliation.
- A bad experience with other parishioners.
- All the rituals and rules the Church.
- Not seeing the point of doing what we do.
- Falling away and not seeing a reason to go back.
- Not fully understanding why we believe what we believe.
- Struggling with one or two beliefs in particular.
- Someone trying to get them to go to Mass or be involved and the person not wanting to.
- And the list goes on.
Is there anything we can do to keep people in the Church or bring them back?
I can think of a few reasons how (and again, this is not an extensive list):
- Live your faith instead of simply talking about it.
- Be willing to answer questions.
- Be willing to look into a question if you don’t know the answer.
- Be willing to put a person into contact with someone who knows the answer if you can’t find it or you know they would know it.
- Be open to what others may be experiencing.
- Listen instead of just talking.
- Invite them to come to Church or Church functions with you.
- But don’t be forceful about it.
- Reach out to a person.
- Make them feel included.
- And the list can go on.
I’d like to bring attention to a specific point in the list above.
All of the points in the list above are valid points, but two of them can probably make or break someone coming back to the Church easier than the others:
If you force them to come, or make it sound like they have to, that’ll probably drive them further away. I can speak from experience.
Even though I was active in the Church during college, people would try to get me to go to something or do something that I didn’t want to do. And by them constantly asking me about it or making it seem like I had to go, I wanted to go even less than I already did.
The point is:
Live out your faith and people will notice. Reach out to others and make them feel welcome. Our actions have a huge impact on what someone decides. Let’s make them feel welcome and they might come home or look into coming into the Church.
So, until next time, I hope you have a good day and a good week!
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