This week Catholic leaders were in an uproar over the doom and gloom cited by the latest Pew Research study on religion. It told us with scary numbers what we already know and see on a daily basis: the number of Christians (and especially the number of Catholics) is on a steep decline.
I’m passionately committed to solving this problem, so don’t get me wrong.
Here’s the thing, though. You should avoid reading, studying, Facebook posting, or blogging about those numbers at all costs.
I’ll let Mother Teresa explain why:
“Never worry about the numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.”
— Bl. Teresa of Calcutta
When we read about scary statistics from studies of 36,000 people, we immediately start to think of momentous campaigns to fight against the decline. We see thousands leaving so we immediately try to think of ways to win thousands back all at once. We dream of programs and ministries and videos and strategies and tactics that will provide the quick fix to a decades-long problem.
They won’t work. That’s not how this religion thing works. That is not where God encounters people. We’re not selling a product. We’re not marketing something valuable to lost costumers.
How do I know? Because that is exactly what I did.
I read about the report and immediately brainstormed ten goals we could set as a Church that would grow our membership. They all had to do with PR and programs and one that even called for “better pay.”
None of it will work because it has never worked. That is never how the great saints and Christian leaders found converts and disciples.
Ignore the numbers.
The only number that matters right here, right now, and today is one.
Who is the ONE person nearest you that you can help right now?
Don’t try for two people. Start with just one person.
What do they need? Where is there biggest pain?
How can you help?