My friend Marc Cardaronella has an excellent post over at his blog on the need for better “sales and marketing” in the Church. He writes
In my experience, people need to hear the benefits of Catholicism to be attracted to it. And, they need to hear how it worked and is working in our own lives. Most people are attracted to something through other people.
You’re not lying when you tell people the great benefits you receive from being Catholic. You’re not trying to mislead people when you describe the peace that comes from faithfully following Church teaching. They may not experience the same thing but then again, they might.
To piggy-back on this idea, I’d say that we need to do a better job of telling our story. When I worked in Catholic health care there was a lot of hand-wringing over whether the government would revoke the tax-exempt status of nonprofit hospitals. The question was whether these hospitals were really giving enough back to the community to justify their exemption.
As it turns out, when (most) nonprofit hospitals ran the numbers, they discovered that they were providing a huge benefit to the community in educational programs, services to the poor, and free care to those who could not afford a massive hospital bill.
The problem was that they didn’t tell people about it! Catholic hospitals were still operating under an assumption that it would be boastful to talk about the good work they were doing, as if that light needed to be hid under a basket. Now, fortunately, many are realizing that sharing success stories is a valuable way of getting people interested in the mission of Catholic healthcare and include community benefit information in their annual reports.
And as Marc points out, just so with the Church. We need to tell people what being a member of the Church means beyond “getting right with God.” There are real tangible benefits to being a believer, and we’re not always willing to stand up and say what they are. That’s one of the reasons I like Fr. Pable’s three-step approach to sharing the faith — it encourages us to explain why the faith is important to us by sharing our stories.
How does the faith benefit you? And how have you shared that story with someone?