11: The Mercy of God
I will give them a heart to know me, for I am the Lord; and they will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with their whole heart. Jeremiah 24:7
According to a 2012 review by the National Council of Churches, the largest religious denomination is the Catholic Church. Some estimate that the second largest group is ex or fallen away Catholics. The work of bringing Catholics home is a big project indeed. The reasons for people leaving the church are too many to count and in some instances too complicated to understand. It could be easy to ponder all of this and become discouraged but we have to remember that God is bigger than all of it and he wants nothing more than to have all his Children home, loving and worshiping him among the community of his faithful. So, if people left for many different reasons then there isn’t one single approach or strategy to bring them all home but there are some things we can do through great hospitality that can make a difference.
- Create a Parish atmosphere that mirrors the love and mercy of Christ.
- Extend such genuine hospitality and sincere imitation of the Gospel teaching that others want what you have.
- Welcome them home as if you’ve been waiting for them all along; no judgement, no speculation, no assumptions just the love and mercy of the father of the prodigal son.
- Consistent and fervent prayers for those who have wandered from the fold.
Every disciple has a story and they are stories that need to be told. God is busy working in our lives all the time. The best way to bring people back to the church is to give them a reason to want to come. It is both inspiring and convincing when we hear someone tell about the ways God is present and powerful in everyday life. It makes our faith relevant, makes people curious and it draws people to Jesus. Once they’ve come to church; perhaps just to explore, we have the opportunity to bless them with the joyful, cheerful genuine hospitality that makes them feel like they want a share in it all. When we get people to that stage, we can let God work in their heart. We aren’t responsible for the entire process, simply the introduction or re-introduction.
Thank you for faithfully embarking and continuing the journey to Entertain Angels.
Adam Janke & Sheri Wolhfert