We all have friends and family members that we wish had a better relationship with God. Many of us worry about them constantly because we see such a great need for God and faith in their lives.
Some of us have had arguments faith and religion with these friends and family. Even bringing up the topic of God and religion can spark intense emotions including anger and later resentment.
It’s never an easy topic to discuss especially when someone tries to avoid these conversations at all costs.
And it is even harder with a person you love most.
I’m thinking of the parents with grown children who no longer go to Church.
Or the sister who worries about siblings who say they no longer believe in God.
A person may even have a close friend or roommate who avoids the topic of religion or asks curious questions about God.
As a part of his RETURN program for parents whose children have drifted away from the Church, Brandon Vogt has been talking about what he calls “Seed Gifts.” Here’s how Vogt describes them:
“[Seed gifts] are DVDs, books, or CDs that you plant in your child’s life, as seeds of truth and faith, in order to spark their return to the Church. . . The great part about “seed gifts” is that they do almost all of the work for you. If you feel inadequate to answer your child’s questions or objections, handing him a DVD, book, or CD can be a lot less intimidating than having to sit down and explain things yourself.”
Last year, for example, I heard a woman say that someone had bought the Catholicism DVDs for her. She had fallen away from the Church. The DVDs sat there in her house for a very long time. Then one day she decided on whim to watch them. It wasn’t long before she watched the entire series. It transformed her life and she came back to the Church–all because someone planted a seed with the gift of a set of DVDs.
It requires patience. It may take years for someone to pick up the book and read it or listen to the CD in their car. That’s why Brandon calls these resources “seed gifts.” You plant the seeds, but they take time to grow.
Just like a seed that grows over time without direct care, a book, CD, or DVD might be exactly what your friend or family member needs in order to be open to an encounter with God.
Someday they might read, listen, or watch that gift. They might come back to you with some questions. Then, you can have the conversation that you just didn’t know how to start before.
What’s the alternative? You can try to force a conversation and push a person even further away. If a person isn’t open to talking about God, then you are wasting your time. A seed gift can spark that openness that you are hoping for.
Give them a gift and be patient. If they ask questions, you have succeeded. Help them find the answers from there.
Every so often, ask about the gift but don’t force it. Just remind them why you loved it so much and invite them to check it out again.
Popular Catholic Seed Gifts
As a part of his RETURN program, you can purchase a large collection of Seed Gifts including Bishop Barron’s Catholicism DVD:
I put together a list of the best “seed gifts” I have heard about as I’ve worked in ministry and traveled around the country. My list differs slightly from the gifts that Brandon is giving away.
If you are interested in getting some additional gift ideas, enter your email and I will send you the list:
(photo credit: Real Bread Campaign)