Yesterday I read Catholic Exchanges interview with Fr. Larry of the website www.TheReasonForOurHope.org . I was impressed by his energy and the his use of the internet as a medium for his ministry. Not that the internet hasn't been used for a while in the spreading of the gospel, but it seems that Fr. Larry is trying to use the internet to push forward all kinds of media with a specific goal in mind. After watching his video
on the site I tended to notice that the way in which he's trying to reach folks is very similar to the way that Protestants normally tend to. By that I mean he's asking first and foremost "Do you know Jesus?" This is definetly a valid question, and I think sometimes I do exactly as Fr. Larry mentions and I seek more about theological knowledge than I seek to grow closer to Christ. We forget I think that our faith requires us to grow in both knowledge and in our relationship to Jesus.
Amy and I were discussing a while back about different methods of reaching people for Christ, and we happened to discuss the method Fr. Larry is using. I think his method is trying first to reach out in an emotional way. He speaks often about letting go, and at other times mentioning that he likes speakers to use humor. As he said in his interview, using humor is akin to "a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down." I think he has a point, but as Amy and I discussed I think this method falls short of really getting to the person. I am reminded of the seeds dropped on different ground and this method I find sort of like the seed that landed in rocky soil and never established its roots. Of course that's without having seen how Fr. Larry moves forward in his next stages so he may move to grow stronger roots very quickly. I am very hopeful for his ministry and I support it wholeheartedly.
I would like however, to ask what types of ministry you think are the most effective. When I participated in Young Life (http://www.younglife.org/) in high school, they aimed at using alot of pop culture and peer influences as a hook which was very effective. It was really a great program that introduced alot of people to Christ. At the same time, I saw a number of people who never really took root and instead just continued going because they were sort of "insiders." None-the-less I think it is a great ministry and I miss my participating in it very much.
There is another type of ministry that I've seen in action that I think really grows roots. I helped with a group in New Braunfels, TX called the St. Michael's Squadron. Rather than use emotion or pop culture, they go straight to the point, they start with prayer, they talk about spirituality, and they end with prayer. There is some music, but rather than contemporary music they use traditional Catholic hymns. They do have their fun time too, but it's put in perspective to the time they spend focused on the spiritual. You should see the roots these high schoolers are growing! It's just amazing. The group is led by a contemplative religeous order called "The Mission of Divine Mercy." Their link is :
I've heard of a group called The Dead Theologians society which seems to be a mix of the two methods. I haven't seen any member groups in action but I'm anxious to. There site is here:
In my opinion, the groups that go straight to the heart of the matter do better at creating good Christians/Catholics for life, or so it seems. I think the pop-culture/emotional groups do attract and create some though, I know plenty of good products of these groups. Amy thought that some people just weren't on the level of the straight foward groups and needed to be hooked in first and then grow to that level which is a very valid point.
So, if you have an opinion, let it be known! Please!