There is a great scene from the classic sitcom, Seinfeld, in which Jerry and George sit in the diner lamenting a particularly frustrating day. Jerry begins to question the direction of their lives: “What is this?” he asks. “What are we doing? What in god’s name are we doing?” He and George go on to lament their pathetic lives before Jerry resolves, “Well, this is it. I’m really gonna do something about my life, you know? George, I am really gonna make some changes.” George agrees, and the two shake hands in an apparent commitment to change the course of their lives.
Of course, nothing changes! Their lives fall right back into their usual dead-end patterns.
When it comes to how we do faith formation, we have reached a “What in God’s name are we doing?” moment, recognizing that, despite a lot of very hard work, many of our efforts are coming up short. Today, more than ever, we are finding it necessary to stop and ask just what we are doing when it comes to faith formation (in particular, running programs that invite parents to drop off their kids with the promise that we will “make them Catholic”) and how we are going to make changes that will result in a much higher degree of cooperation with the Holy Spirit—a cooperation that will bear fruit for the future of our Church in the shape of increased and deepened discipleship. In particular, we are paying much more attention to the relationship between catechesis and evangelization. One of the most insightful minds and voices on this topic is my friend, Julianne Stanz, who has blessed us with a new book, Developing Disciples of Christ: Understanding the Critical Relationship between Catechesis and Evangelization, part of the new and exciting The Effective Catechetical Leader series by Loyola Press and NCCL.
Be sure to check out Julianne’s book so that, unlike the hapless characters on Seinfeld, we may truly commit to letting go of ineffective practices and to making changes that will lead to more effective catechesis and evangelization for all God’s people!