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I suggest that they have a big meeting, preferably lasting for years, before they do anything hasty. That should do the trick.

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With ROUND tables!

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Nov 15, 2023·edited Nov 15, 2023

The Catholic Church needs to spend more time asking "what is it evangelicals do that make them so effective at evangelization and retention, and how can we adapt it?" And they need to spend less time imitating Mainline and Liberal Protestants whose communions are in utter collapse while their professional and academic bureaucracies scramble to justify their existence by rearranging chairs on the Titanic.

The future of the Church in Africa - and Latin America and the US - depends on it.

My suspicion is that the reason the Church has such a difficult time responding to Evangelicalism globally is because many of the people in positions of power in the Church are highly educated professionals who are experts and bureaucrats at heart, who highly value their respectability in Western, liberal society. They therefore have such a natural sympathy to the polite and respectable professionalism of Mainline Protestantism and NGOs, coupled with an aversion to and even embarrassment of Evangelicalism, which they see as a crude, intellectually weak, and populist threat to their own academic and bureaucratic power.

This blind spot among the Church's professional class is a massive albatross.

I see it in America at the parish and diocesan level. Just absolutely deaf ears if you try to highlight what it is that evangelical churches effectively do. It doesn't fit their mold. It's "icky."

The parish professionals go to professional conferences where they mingle with other professionals and hear talks from more professionals which take place on the campuses where professionals are trained by academics who put pronouns in their bios and read America and Commonweal while looking down on Bishop Barron and Scott Hahn as intellectual lightweights.

Meanwhile, who is actually evangelizing effectively?

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I agree that the Church needs to do much better with evangelization, but I will admit that, only from personal experience, I don't know that evangelicals are actually that good at it, either. I am a convert (grew up a "none") and when I was courted by evangelicals I felt intensely uncomfortable. It felt very insincere, and there seems to be a lot of turnover in membership in any given church within a short period of time - perhaps uncharitable but it seems like chasing the next spiritual high, less like a personal relationship with Christ? Maybe that's just here, in my little area of the US, among the people I know, and not how it works in Ghana or in other areas of the world.

If we're talking about really getting out there and doing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, I'm for it.

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Put another way, because I don't mean to sound combative about this: I'm nervous about any method that tries to "Catholicize" something that isn't a full expression of Truth at best, and at worst might be directly opposed. Prosperity gospel is super attractive, but it's also totally false. I don't know how you work with that. I don't want to employ underhanded techniques like "love bombing" (which I have personally experienced and find absolutely abhorrent.)

I'd like to learn more about what actually "works" that is good!! And I don't disagree with your criticism of how the Church doesn't evangelize well now and don't want to excuse doing nothing.

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I agree with a lot of this here, but I think - as a convert with a lot of experience with Evangelicalism - there are a lot of other things that Evangelicalism has going for it when it comes to things like building community and creating programming that meets people where they are at.

For example, a lot of people at my Catholic parish have drifted over to the local Evangelical church purely because of the children's programming and community. In the Catholic Church, we make families sit in the pews with their restless kids, and then all we have for kids is CCD, which is boring and usually held at insanely inconvenient times totally disconnected from mass.

For example, our parish has a 9:30 and 11:30 Sunday Mass, but its Sunday CCD class is at 10:15. In other words, you can't attend the 9:30, but if you want to go to 11:30 you have to wait around with the kids in the parking lot for a 1/2 hour. Why not have CCD at 10:30 with coffee for parents? It's a total missed opportunity for fellowship and to draw families to Sunday Mass! Evangelical congregations LOOK for opportunities to make things like this work for families, and its little things like this that make a huge difference.

The local evangelical church has a whole slew of programming for kids of all ages, that is engaging and convenient for families, and they have a coffee hour every Sunday.

These are the kinds of things that Catholic parishes need to do better that Evangelicals do well.

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Oh, yes, those sorts of practical mishaps drive me batty. Our parish has improved a lot in these sorts of things over the past 10-15 years, and puts Jesus and the sacraments front and center.

That said, I am already eye rolling about the many, many, hoops I'm required to jump for a child's FHC this year. It's a large parish, I get that there has to be some kind of organization lest everything devolve into total chaos, but if I didn't know how important it was it'd be very tempting to just give up and not do it.

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I agree, with respect to American evangelicalism. One example of effective evangelism is Fellowship of Catholic University Students, which is modeled on the evangelical ministries Campus Crusade and InterVarsity. FOCUS is a huge success and is growing by leaps and bounds.

Perhaps the biggest thing to learn from evangelicalism is the importance of creating community in parishes through intentional, high-commitment small groups of friendship and mutual care. Evangelicals recognize that community is a big lack in American life, and that the old sources of it--neighborhoods, extended families, schools, ethnic groups--aren't providing it anymore. Catholic parishes have historically depended on these larger social communities for parish community. Evangelicals recognize that you have to build community from scratch, very intentionally.

Another big difference is that (the better) evangelical churches put a high premium on religious education through the pulpit--people go to church in large part to learn about Jesus through the Bible and how to apply that in their lives.

But I'm not sure the takeover by evangelicals, esp Pentecostals, in the global South offers many positive lessons. Much of the inroads are being made by prosperity gospel sects.

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Agree with all of this.

I think you make really good point about how Catholic parishes in the US just sort of depend on the community to be there. I wonder if that comes from their history as ethnic, immigrant Churches. And now that those larger community contexts have largely evaporated, particularly among white Catholics, I think a lot of parishes haven't figured out how to replace it.

Where Evangelicals never had those ready made communities from the Old World. They always had to succeed in America on American terms.

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How do the Catholic numbers compare to evangelical numbers in the Ghana? Evangelical Church congregations are also exploding across sub-Saharan Africa, and as we've seen in Brazil, those non-denom congregations have been siphoning Catholics.

In the developing world of sub-saharan Africa, evangelical Christian denominations that promise prosperity and security and appeal to one's emotions might easily siphon off neophytes or people who started off Catholic but are quickly snatched up when the ol' evangelical preacher-man sets up shop in town.

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Where can you find that "Statistical Yearbook of the Church" for fellow nerds like myself? I tried looking once on the internet and it only seemed to be available in Italian.

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