Getting every believer comfortable about sharing faith: it’s a fine objective. But there are a lot of cultural challenges to this, and not just because a lot of Catholics are introverts.
Fortunately, the Lord does not call us to be perfect. When we share our faith, it is “our” story of faith. Not the compendium of Catholic teaching. And we invite people to “discover Christ in our Catholic family of believers.”
It’s good to remember that most seekers are not looking for the Ultimate Intellectual Argument as delivered by Chesterton or apologetics.com. They just want their curiosity satisfied by people.
There are four strategies given:
- faith-sharing groups;
- training on discerning religious experience and articulating it;
- development of a greater ability to listen and empathize; and
- encouragement of converts to share their stories of faith.
These are all essential for a parish to be doing. Faith-sharing groups come and go sometimes at the mercy of programming in RENEW or CRHP or other published offerings. Once a parish gets the hang of a few years of this, it is relatively easy (but less often done) to utilize faith-sharing resources. And lots of resources are out there: Bible studies, topical presentations, videos, Sunday liturgy, etc..
For strategies two and three you need a spiritual director, or someone fairly well-versed in discernment and listening to guide and train parishioners. It goes way beyond apologetics training. Apologetics, by design, is about talking at people. Dialogue involves listening–think of it as a personal discipline. Training for this is not difficult.
And for converts to share stories of faith, they first need exposure to regular believers being able to articulate their own story of faith.
Every Catholic should be able to articulate a personal story of faith. Such stories are often powerful, and it’s good to have it nearly on one’s tongue, ready to go, just for the next opportunity that might come along.
(Check this whole chapter devoted to goal number two (GMD 104-116) at the USCCB web page.)