Getting Away from the Presentation/Lecture Method for Adult Faith Formation

One of the patterns that we need to break in order for ongoing Adult Faith Formation to take root and grow is the bad habit of lecturing to adults for 45 minutes or an hour and calling that adult catechesis. In many parishes, adult faith formation takes the shape of a staff member (pastor, associate pastor, deacon, pastoral associate, DRE) deciding that he or she will offer a series of classes for 6 to 8 weeks. People show up (hopefully), they are talked at, maybe they get to ask questions, and they go home. After a year or 2, the staff member moves on and the adult faith formation “program” grinds to a halt.

I’ve told both of the parishes that I’m assisting this year in adult catechesis that I do not intend to do any presentations myself in their parishes but rather will work to establish formats that enable adults to engage in faith sharing, not attend lectures. This will involve recruiting and training parishioners to act as facilitators for adult faith formation events.

One such opportunity is shaping up at St. Cajetan Parish for October 14. While the children are in Religious Education class (6:00 – 7:30 pm), parents of the children and other parishioners are invited to a session on Learning How to Pray the Rosary. pn8a5180_s

  • The evening will begin at 6 pm with gathering and refreshments followed by a short prayer experience.
  • Then, from 6:15-7:15 pm, they will participate in a session on learning to pray the Rosary, utilizing my Rosary Powerpoint and highlighting a panel discussion featuring 4 or 5 parishioners who will share their thoughts, insights, and experiences of praying the Rosary. I call this the “talk show” format and it is very effective because attendees end up hearing from fellow parishioners who are sharing their faith instead of having an “expert” come in to tell them how it’s done. A facilitator acts like a “talk-show host” and keeps the conversation going by asking questions which the panel members have seen ahead of time (see below)
  • We will end by praying a decade of the Rosary and then have some time to socialize (with refreshments) until 7:30 pm when the children are ready to leave class

The following Tuesday, parents are invited to join the children in Church to pray the Rosary so the goal is to provide them with an opportunity to feel more at home with this form of prayer.

Here are the sample questions for the panel:

  • When did you learn the Rosary and who taught you to pray it?
  • When do you pray the Rosary?
  • What benefits do you gain from praying the Rosary?
  • How does the Rosary bring you closer to Mary? To Jesus?
  • What advice would you give to someone who is just learning about the Rosary?
  • What are common misconceptions that some people have about praying the Rosary?
  • Are there any challenges to learning to pray the Rosary?
  • What do we mean by the Mysteries of the Rosary? Do you have a favorite set of Mysteries? Why or why not?
  • How can praying the Rosary bring us peace of mind?


About Joe Paprocki 2742 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at


  1. This makes me nervous! We are starting a program for adults during their childs RE and I am in charge of running it. I have a PowerPoint with some videos all ready to go for Sunday. I guess I need to reevaulate? Should I spend more time talking about my practices? I already feel like such a hypocrite, I mean who am I, my life is far from perfect. Anyways, thanks for the fresh ideas, I’ll evaluate the feedback after the first meeting.

    • Hi Dave. My proposal is simply something to work toward. It sounds like you have a solid plan in place. I would encourage you to weave in some interaction among the adults. PowerPoints and videos have an important place but should be seen as resources to inspire discussion among the adults. Don’t be nervous…offer folks solid quality formation and tweak as you go, gradually working toward more adult faith sharing. Please do let us know how things go!

      • Things did not go as well as planned, sadly, out of 2400 parishoners only 4 showed up! The presentation style was for more like 30 people, so I am going to have to rework things to make them a little more intimate. Any suggestions on how to get people interested? The program is casual and is from 10:15-11:15 (while their children are in RE) so we thought it would give parents something to do why they wait. Guess, they had other plans Sunday morning. I am pretty bummed.

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