The Office of Stewardship
Ready to Explore How Evangelization Can Work at Your Parish?
One of the key characteristics of an inviting parish is: “Our parish leaders and members regularly and consistently invite new members to be part of the community and offers planned, regular evangelistic retreats and/or programs.”
There seems to be an increasing interest across the Diocese to pursue this particular aspect of our Stewardship pillars and several have asked the Office of Stewardship for more information on possible ways a community can develop an evangelization “program.”
In response, I have compiled some basic information on three approaches. There are many other options a parish could explore, but these three are currently being used or have been used by people in our Diocese. This offers the advantage of having someone close by who can advise and assist anyone else who chooses the same approach. If you have expertise in another approach and would like to share it with others, please post information in the comments section below.
1 – For those who complete all three parts of ChristLife, strong relationships are developed and fostered, the more time people spend, the deeper the relationships.
2- The CCO option is not a “program in a box” like the other two. So, the training and support and development would need to be coordinated. However, Carole is willing to assist in this process.
ALPHA was developed in 1990 at an Anglican Church in London. Since that time, ALPHA has been translated into 112 languages and has been offered in over 100 countries. They describe it as, “a series of sessions exploring the Christian faith, typically run over eleven weeks. Each talk looks at a different question around faith and is designed to create conversation.” Sessions include a video, small group discussion and a meal.
ALPHA has developed high-quality, professional and engaging videos. They have included many very powerful testimonies. AlphaUSA offers online training and extensive support for the parish, including a regional representative who is available to answer questions and can come to your parish to provide training. Over the 11 weeks, basic questions about Christianity are answered including:
Who is Jesus?
Why did He die?
Should I read the Bible?
How do you pray?
ALPHA is used by many different denominations and is not explicitly Catholic. It is also just an introduction to Christianity, so a parish using ALPHA should also have a plan in place for participants who’s faith is awakened by ALPHA and want to continue to journey towards dedicated discipleship.
Last year, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help launched the ALPHA program and Brett Eckert, Director of Evangelization at OLPH, is happy to answer any questions you might have about how ALPHA is being used at the Cathedral. He can be contacted at: 605-342-0507 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. To explore ALPHA online, go to: https://alphausa.org/about
ChristLife was begun in 1995 as an apostolate in Archdiocese of Baltimore to respond to the call for the New Evangelization. Initially, ChristLife served as the USA training office for the ALPHA program but in 2007 shifted its focus and developed a 3-part series for evangelization: Discovering Christ, Following Christ, Sharing Christ. Each part in the series includes 7 sessions. Like ALPHA, materials include participant materials, videos and leader training and support. Also like Alpha, ChristLife sessions include a meal.
ChristLife offers training in Baltimore as well as online video training and phone support. It has the advantages of being distinctly Catholic and of answering the basic questions covered in ALPHA as well as two follow-up programs that assist parishes in leading participants to dedicated discipleship.
Our Lady of the Black Hills in Piedmont will launch their third year of ChristLife this fall. Joni Osnes, Adult Faith Formation Director for the parish is more than happy to visit with you about the program and how it has worked at OLBH. You can reach her at: 605-787-5168 or at email@example.com. Or read about her experience here. To explore ChristLife online, go to: https://christlife.org/about/
3. CCO Discipleship
Dr. Carole Brown, Director of the Sioux Spiritual Center in Howes, SD, developed an evangelization program while Director of Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. In addition to using materials from Catholic Christian Outreach, she developed leader training and a parish process for evangelization. Below is a video which highlights her efforts.
If you would like to explore the CCO faith study series for small groups online, please go to: https://cco.ca/faith-studies-series. CCO will also offer you advice and support as you create an evangelization process for your parish. You can learn more here: https://cco.ca/parish
If you would like to visit more with Carole, she can be reached at: 605-985-5906 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
No matter what program you chose, I would encourage you to take a minute to read Carole’s 7 Tips for Making Multiplying Discipleship Actually Work At Your Parish. In it are important tips for any parish choosing to focus on “Making Disciples.”
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