Strategies for Bringing People Back to the Church

The #1 prayer request we receive at Relevant Radio® is for listeners whose children have fallen away from the Catholic Faith. With more than 10% of Americans identifying as “former Catholics,” the faithful have a great challenge to evangelize those who have left the faith they were raised in.

To help, author James Day stopped by Morning Air® to share some strategies we can use as we work to bring our loved ones back to the Catholic Church.

Fill Your Cup
The regular, committed Catholic may feel pressure to be that constant evangelizer. But sometimes the evangelizer may need to step back, reflect, relax and take it easy. That what I call the first step – know thyself. Give yourself a retreat or some sort of spiritual sustenance to continue to reach out to those who are questioning or not questioning.

Stay Strong
We hear the phrase ‘meet people where they are.’ And I see where that’s going, but I don’t want to completely accommodate the position or compromise Church teaching in order to make people feel good.  But at the same time, the evangelizer needs to be wary of preaching and proselytizing. Because that’s where a lot of people who turned from the faith walked away – that kind of rigid, authoritarian tone that they heard along the way.

So we have to be careful and we have to walk with them. But also be firm. Because I don’t think people really appreciate or respect  accommodationists at the end of the day. Even if they don’t agree with Church teaching, or don’t identify as Catholic, I think they’ll still respect the person who stands firm to convictions, rather than just giving over.

Know Your Faith
A lot of negative perceptions honestly come from an ignorance of the faith, a secular perspective, a distorted perspective, or really bad catechesis.  For example, I think a Protestant or an Evangelical perspective of the papacy is probably from the Reformation era – when there were corrupted popes and a papacy run rampant with wealth and other things. But at the same time, it doesn’t take away from the reality of the 265 bishops of Rome, leading us down to Peter.

We have to walk through, step by step, the reality of the situation. That’s where the evangelizer really has to know the Faith, rather than the emotions guiding them.

Start with Those Around You
There are solid parishes that are supporting each other, with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Eucharist being our central point. But something we can take away is accountability with other parishioners. If we miss our usual 9:30 a.m. Mass, because we had to go to another Mass at another parish, how many of those in the pews around us will say, ‘Hey, where were you the last few weeks? I didn’t see you.’

I think we need to be a little more outreaching toward those in the pews, making the committed Catholics feel welcomed and loved. Because that’s going to inform them when they step out of the Church.

Listen to the full conversation below:

Find more strategies from James Day over at Catholic Exchange.
Morning Air can be heard weekdays from 6:00 – 9:00 a.m. Eastern/3:00-6:00 a.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio®.

Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.