Can the Catholic Church learn anything from the growth of evangelical Christian megachurches?
A Xavier University class on evangelization and marketing of churches hopes to answer that question.
In its second year, the class is taking it further with a Catholic "seeker-friendly" service at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Cintas Center.
The service - not a Mass - is called Road Trip and will feature contemporary Catholic music by several local artists and the Rev. Eric Knapp, a Jesuit priest in his 30s. It's aimed not only at the college campus but young adults throughout Greater Cincinnati.
Seeker-friendly services are designed for people who don't regularly attend such services, and some of the formal sections of the service are not included.
"We understand the Mass is central to the Catholic Church, and we're not looking to replace it. But it's not exactly seeker-friendly. It can be difficult for a visitor to step in and know everything that's going on," said Ted Bergh, who teaches the class. "So we're experimenting with this Catholic seeker service."
Of course there is so much more to the Catholic Church than Mass and the Sacraments and Tradition…right?
"The class really opened my eyes to see that you can market and brand anything, even churches," he said. "It was interesting to see that branding and marketing tools can be relevant to maintaining and growing a congregation."
Loretta said he hopes the service shows young people that the Catholic Church isn't only about the traditional. "I feel like the service will definitely work and draw in crowds and raise awareness of what the Catholic Church has to offer," he said.
Reading this makes me even more leery of the term Evangelical Catholic that I discussed in the post below. Don’t invite folks in and tell them, “Oh, we are all about fellowship, and contemporary music, and uplifting happy-clappy Jesus-loves-me worship.” When are you going to tell them about the Cross? Maybe you were just going to skip over that little unpleasant detail? It is very hard to have the Resurrection without the Cross. We don’t need bait-and-switch evangelization. Give them real Catholicism. Give them the Mass.