Shining the Spotlight on Those We Teach

When I was a student teacher, I was very proud of the first class I taught. My mouth had a motor on it, and I never ran out of gas. When class was over, my cooperating teacher congratulated me on surviving, and said I did a good job, but bluntly said, “You talk too much.” I thought teachers were supposed to talk. “Yes,” he replied, “but not all the time. The spotlight is not supposed […]

Don’t Put Words in God’s Mouth!

When teaching others, especially children, about Scripture, we often find ourselves paraphrasing the actual Scripture passage in order to use words that more closely resonate with contemporary experience. This is all well and good, and I do it myself all the time; however, it is important that we expose people to the actual Scripture passages we are summarizing to ensure that we are not putting words in God’s mouth! Recently, I overheard someone speaking to […]

How Do We Know If We’re Teaching Effectively? Authentic Assessment in Faith Formation

When I speak at catechetical conferences, I try to sit in on other speakers’ presentations to learn and to see what’s hot and what’s not in the world of catechesis. I usually try to be a fly on the wall, but occasionally I feel compelled to ask a question. Once, I unwittingly and unintentionally brought a workshop to a screeching halt by doing just that! The presenter was a prominent figure in the world of catechesis […]

The Catechist as a Personal Trainer for Prayer Life

“Central aspects of the formation of children are training in prayer and introduction to Sacred Scripture” (General Directory for Catechesis 178). Today let’s focus on the training in prayer part of that. Training indeed is key, but how do we understand that? Think of a personal trainer: when we need to get in shape or need new motivation to stay in shape, we might hire a trainer to teach us the basics of fitness and […]

Learning by Empowerment

We sometimes get the notion that when Jesus performed miracles, the disciples just watched from the sidelines. Not so in the story of Jesus Feeding the 5000 in the Gospel of Mark (6:33–44)! In fact, when the disciples alert Jesus to the need to feed the crowds, Jesus’ response is “You give them something to eat.” (NIV) As the story progresses, the disciples do not remain passive. They do the following: take inventory of what is […]

How to Be a Prayer Coach

It’s no coincidence that some of the best coaches and managers in sports are former players themselves. They understand what it’s like to be on the court, field, or ice. In fact, some of the best coaches and managers are those who themselves struggled during their playing years. As a result of their struggles, they studied the game more intensively, seeking to learn every nuance that might assist them since their own pure talent was marginal. […]

Reuse and Review at the End of the Faith Formation Year

As I approached the last faith formation class of the year, I was looking for ways to review the material we had covered during our time together. In the past I’ve used some kind of game or competition as a review activity. But with this being my first year teaching fourth grade, I wasn’t sure if these activities would work well with this older group of students. When I was preparing for our final class, […]

Evangelization Is Our Deepest Identity

One of the most exciting thrusts in the world of catechesis in the past several decades has been the emergence of the importance of evangelization. In fact, catechesis and evangelization are so closely related that the General Directory for Catechesis tells us that “in pastoral practice, it is not always easy to define the boundaries of these activities.” (62) In other words, there is not only overlap between catechesis and evangelization, but there is also […]

Evangelization Starts Here: A Welcoming Community

I hear people say all the time that they wish more young families would attend Mass regularly. That’s not going to happen unless regular attendees are more welcoming to those young families who venture forth to test the waters of our parishes. For too long, Catholics have arrived/settled into their pews in church in a manner similar to passengers boarding a certain airline: once you get your seat, you try not to make eye-contact with […]

The Six “Be-Attitudes” for Inviting Someone to Come to Mass

People who come to Mass infrequently tend to “PACE” themselves by going to church on Palm Sunday, Ash Wednesday, Christmas, and Easter (P-A-C-E). So how can we reach out to our friends, family members, and those we work with who are not practicing their faith? The answer is surprisingly simple. According to Lifeway Research, 51% of unchurched Americans say the most effective way to get them to visit church would be through a personal invitation […]

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