Deacon Mike Siebert
Connecting Faith and Life
Surely, I don’t need to waste your time with statistics about how the “faithful” have been walking away. Our kids, spouses, brothers and sisters, neighbors, co-workers … people who are members of the Body of Christ have been dis-membered. It’s time to RE-Member Christ.
How do we put the members of Christ back into the Body? Jesus gave us instructions when He said, “Do THIS in Remembrance of me.” It seems His plan is that Mass is the way we RE-member Him. But how can we put Him back together, if many of the members are missing from Mass?
Obviously, we gotta do something different. “If we’re not getting the result we desire by doing what we’re doing, we have to do something we’ve not done before.”
Many heroic efforts have been tried, including massive game-changers like the “Bible in a Year” from Ascension (maybe the best thing to hit the Church since, well, a long time). But this battle needs to become more personal; we need more people to join the battle. Instead of asking what is “the Church” doing, what are you and I personally doing to stop the bleeding? Actually, let’s not just stop the bleeding, but let’s grow this Church. Not for the sake of filling our pews and our collection baskets — that’s not what I’m talking about. You and I must believe that we have something the world needs — what the world wants — although they may not see it yet.
Each of us personally needs to be convinced that our relationship with Jesus has changed us to the core, and the joy that comes from that relationship will radiate outward to attract people
I often hear how most parishes are “not inviting,” even though I know our churches are filled with friendly people. The problem, I think, is that we typically huddle with our friends and family after Mass and don’t even notice the person behind us. We don’t mean to ignore them, but as they look at the huddles around them, they feel like an outsider.
Here’s an idea: Heat-Seeking Missiles (HSM). Yeah, I bet you didn’t see that coming! Stick with me a minute: HSMs scan their environment looking for any heat – and they lock-in on an individual target – notice that – they don’t lock-in on a range of targets but a single target.
You and I can be HSMs. At each Mass, scan the folks in the pews to look for a warm body who seems disconnected: maybe a visitor or somebody who just doesn’t have a family or friends to chat with after Mass. Maybe someone recently moved in and decided to try out your parish. Imagine how it will impact them if you and a friend approach them and personally engage them in conversation. Remember their name, where they’re from, something about them like family or work or hobbies. Suddenly, they feel noticed – seen – not just a face in the sea of faces. What’s the likelihood they’ll come back? (And what’s the likelihood if nobody engages them?) They would feel connected, i.e. RE-MEMBERED.
HSMs could change that person’s life.
You and I would also be changed because we’d be engaging in building up the kingdom, which is the source of our joy.
HSMs could change the parish, the Church, the culture.
We can take that same HSM mentality outside the church building, too.
One real-life local example is a lady who works as a receptionist, so she gets to talk (and listen) to a lot of people. Over time, she builds a relationship with them and they get into deeper conversations. Eventually, she invites them to come back to church – and then come over to her house for breakfast afterward.
Notice several things about this scenario: First, it’s a one-on-one relationship formed to build trust. Second, the conversation doesn’t start with church talk, but rather getting to know them and their struggles. Third, this happens over time; trust takes time to build. Fourth, the invitation flows naturally from the relationship and includes an invitation into her life – into her home. I’ve heard before that “the front door of the Church is YOUR front porch.”
HSMs and front porches – two ways we can RE-MEMBER Christ.