A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

If We Build It…

Posted on: October 20, 2015

Last night’s federal election results clearly took members of the media, pollsters and average Canadians by surprise. No doubt some campaign workers were shocked, pleasantly or otherwise, by the outcome in their riding.

Even though I volunteered during this campaign, all the effort I’ve seen—phone and door-to-door canvassing, debates, open houses, rallies, the installation of lawn signs, and so on—represents a small portion of the work needed to give a campaign momentum and have it succeed.

But I know that it’s not enough to have a vision; we have to make people aware of that vision.

Remember the famous line from the movie Field of Dreams: “If you build it, he will come”? Sometimes our churches can have a similar approach to attracting newcomers. We create programs and set up committees, but we may only announce these to the congregation at Mass, meaning that the new residents, seekers, and Catholics who have drifted away from the church will never hear about these opportunities to serve and to grow in faith.

When Jesus gave the Great Commission, he didn’t tell the apostles to wait until people came to them to learn about the faith. He told them to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19*) and passing on his teachings. If we want others to know about God’s love for them and the hope of salvation realized through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we need to do more than hope they’ll find their way to the door of our church and the courage to walk inside and take a seat.

We need to have a presence in the community, not just a building people happen to drive by. That might mean taking part in community parades and festivals, promoting events in local newspapers and with lawn signs, sending notices of upcoming activities to area schools, posting events on the parish website and the church’s electronic message sign, and working with community groups that minister to those in need.

We need to remember that the Church exists for those outside it—and make an effort to invite them in so that we have the opportunity to share the good news with them.

(*Scripture quote taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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