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Permission to Believe

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Jonathan Lewis

on 30 May 2017

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Transcript of Permission to Believe

Permission to Believe
Jonathan Lewis

Director of Evangelization and Young Adult Initiatives
Archdiocese of Washington
What do you hope to take away
from this session today?
Getting on the Same Page
Young adults are persons in their late teens, twenties, and thirties
who represent diverse cultural, racial, ethnic, education, vocational, social, political, and spiritual backgrounds. They are college and university students, workers, and professionals; they are persons in military service; they are single, married, divorced, or widowed; they are with or without children; the are newcomers in search of a better life.

-National Directory for Catechesis
Who Are Young Adults
Tasks of Young Adulthood
All human beings have the need to make meaning

Young Adults are at a crucial stage of meaning making that will inform their entire life

“Though faith has become problematic, the importance of meaning has not”

“Faith must be emancipated from its too-easy equation with belief and religion and reconnected with meaning, trust, and truth”

“whatever serves as the centering, unifying linchpin of our pattern of meaning and holds it all together—that center functions as ‘God’"

What YAs are going through is normal, age appropriate and developmentally necessary
Sharon Parks,
Big Questions, Worthy Dreams
Young Adults don't feel as though they have permission to believe in God and practice the Catholic faith (starting place)

Why? Personal relationship with God is not possible:

-48% of Catholics are certain that you can have a personal relationship with God
(Pew Forum)

-40% of Catholic 20 somethings believe in a personal God

-62% of Catholics seldom or never share their faith or view of God with anyone else (lower rate than atheists)


1. Personal interior journey

2. Sacramental/ecclesial journey

3. Active/inactive belonging journey

3 Journey’s

Sacramental Journey:

What are the ways that Young Adults are included in parish rituals or blessings?
The 5 Thresholds of Conversion

-Initial Trust
-Spiritual Curiosity
-Spiritual Openness

-Spiritual Seeker
-Intentional Disciple

1. Personal Interior Journey
Developed by Doug Schaupp
What in our parish
is designed to create
trust, curiosity, and openness?
1. Personal Interior Journey
Threshold Conversations
“Can you describe your relationship with God
to this point in your life?”
Threshold Conversations
Invitation to talk with you to tell the story of God in their life.
Supportive listening (not counseling, catechizing, judgmental, spiritual direction or faith sharing)
Maybe the first time they have ever been asked the question
Proposes a lived relationship with God which may blow their mind and opens up new possibilities
Can be integrated into every parish ministry and medium of communication
Never accept a label for a story (“atheist”, “Methodist” does not satisfy the faith story)

“Congregational engagement describes the degree of belonging an individual has in his or her congregation”

What is the current practice for weekly welcome at your parish? Same at all the masses?

What is the process for becoming a member of the parish?

What is the process of inviting people to become a member of your parish?

3 Types of members in every Catholic congregation:

1. Engaged, (29%)
2. Not-engaged (54%)
3. Actively disengaged (17%)

Growing an Engaged Church
Growing an Engaged Church
Growing an Engaged Church
”These members are loyal and have strong psychological and emotional connections to their church or parish.”

Organize life around church

“May attend regularly, but they do not have strong psychological and emotional connections to their congregation; their connections are
more social than spiritual”

They are "satisfied" with their congregation
They “give less, serve less, and invite less than the engaged do”
They are the target audience

1. Show up once or twice a year
2. C.A.V.E. Dwellers (Constantly against virtually everything) unhappy and share that

“The best chance for the actively disengaged to improve their engagement level is not through your attention; it is through their relationships with the not-engaged who are becoming engaged.”

“Your job as a leader is not to placate the actively disengaged. It is to create and grow disciples.”

Actively Disengaged

2. Help your members discover what they do best
3 Places to Start

1. Clarify the expectations of membership

3 Places to Start
When do we clarify membership?

“People need to know what is expected of them as members of their church; they need to know ‘the rules of the game.’ Otherwise, they will make up their own rules.”

Expectations are a 2-way street: what is expected of them & expected from their church

Help people discern their gifts and space to utilize them

If we plug people into easy/simple roles then they are not doing what they do best and they become burned out and may eventually leave

Engaged members who use their gifts will serve longer and more effectively because they are doing what they love and what they are talented at

2. Help your members discover what they do best
3 Places to Start
What do you love to do?

If you could do anything to serve God in our community, what would you do?

How can we help you do that?

3. Create Small Groups
3 Places to Start
Small groups lead to engagement
Key to Protestant communities
Responds to Our Hearts are Burning Within Us
Creates the space that people need to be heard, challenged, grow, and cultivate relationships

1. As a member of my congregation/parish, I know what is expected of me.
2. In my congregation/parish, my spiritual needs are met.
3. In my congregation/parish, I regularly have the opportunity to do what I do best
4. In the last month, I have received recognition or praise from someone in my congregation/parish.
5. The spiritual leaders in my congregation/parish seem to care about me as a person.
6. There is someone in my congregation/parish who encourages my spiritual development.
7. As a member of my congregation/parish, my opinions seem to count
8. The mission or purpose of my congregation/parish makes me feel my participation is important.
9. The other members of my congregation/parish are committed to spiritual growth.
10. Aside from family members, I have a best friend in my congregation/parish.
11. In the last six months, someone in my congregation/parish has talked to me about the progress of my spiritual growth
12. In my congregation/parish, I have the opportunities to learn and grow.

What is a Spiritually Healthy Parish?
“We need a place or places of dependable connection, where we have a keen sense of the familiar: ways of knowing and being that anchor us in a secure sense of belonging and social cohesion”
A network of belonging does 2 things:
1. Creates a sense of connection and security provides freedom to grow and become
2. Sets norms and boundaries that one cannot cross and still belong

“Restoring mentoring as a vital social art and a cultural force could significantly revitalize our institutions and provide intergenerational glue to address some of our deepest and most pervasive concerns”
“The emerging adult is attracted to a social context that appears to be compatible with his or her inner truth”

“There is…profound receptiveness to any network of belonging that appears to promise a place of nurture for the potential self”

“Never before in the human life cycle (and never again) is there the same developmental readiness for asking big questions and forming worthy dreams.

In every generation, the renewal of human life is dependent in significant measure on the questions that are posted during this ear in our meaning-making. The dreams those questions may seed yield the promise of our shared future.”
Where do you see mentoring present in your parish community?

What are the challenges to developing mentoring relationships?

What might be ripe opportunities for mentoring in our communities?
Practical Take-a-ways?
Full transcript