Megachurches are full of ex-Catholics. It’s no secret. Catholics are often easy pickings. Yesterday I posted about my recent conversation about Catholics leaving the Church for megachurches. Today we’ll look at some solutions.
Here are 10 things we can do to stop the hemorrhaging.
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.
4) We need better marriage prep. Bring out the veteran marathon lovers – those couples who have been married 50 years and have them talk to the youngsters.
5) Better music. Imitating the Tonight Show band is a losing strategy. Bring it with Gregorian chant. Even Howard Stern (not a fan!) was blown away about a little Latin Pie Jesu. See video for details.
6) Rediscover real Catholic architecture. In The Crucified Rabbi, I argue that there is a Catholic way of doing architecture based on the norms of Scripture and Old Testament precedents. You can read a sample here. Traditional architecture presents mystery and transcendence. Catholics used to major in this.
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.”
Question: Okay, these are ten suggestions to to stop the bleeding. Leave a comment and share your ideas below. How do we keep Catholics from drifting to the megachurches? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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