Endless Chatter or Evangelization?

Chitchat or Evangelization?

One of the difficulties of New Evangelization is the fact that there are so many different ways to evangelize.  The way you talk about Catholicism to your fallen away sibling is probably a lot different than the way you talk to your neighbor or the woman at the grocery store who you noticed has a Rosary hanging from her rearview mirror.

Every person’s situation is different, and that means that we must be open to using different approaches to sharing the faith.  I’m not talking about changing the message, because the message of God’s salvation is unchangeable.  I’m talking about the delivery method.

Got an email this morning from Mary who wasn’t very happy with The Catholics Next Door radio show:

I find it very difficult to listen to the “chatter” on your show! You go on endlessly about minutia that could be covered in 30 seconds! I seem to catch your show when I drive and I rarely learn anything new — I’d have to listen for hours to learn something new! In contrast, I can listen to EWTN for 5 minutes every hour and learn something I did not know about our Catholic faith!! I pray EWTN will come on my XM radio. Until then I am stuck with The Catholic Channel. For example, a few weeks ago you were talking about Mary going to visit her cousin, Elizabeth . . . Do you REALLY think God would have had her go alone? Think about it!! Mary was surrounded by angels!! Joseph and other men also probably went with her as well to protect her!! You should read The Life of Mary As Seen by the Mystics to get a wonderful insight about Mary’s life apart from what is written in the Gospels! That day you sounded very Protestant. Praise God for EWTN!

I can understand Mary’s dislike for “chatter,” but that doesn’t make it wrong.

As New Evangelizers, we must always keep in mind that there is a need for multiple types of Catholic media, multiple ways of sharing the faith, and multiple ways of providing more information about Catholicism.  And we are just one.  Just like there are people like Mary, who obviously does not like The Catholic Channel, there are many people who turn on EWTN and may become completely freaked out because it seems so “advanced” and they are just mildly curious about the Catholic faith.

We as Catholics need to work towards not only providing greater catechesis for those who are already committed to the faith (like EWTN does so well), but in reaching those people who are not inclined to Catholicism so that they become more disposed to being open to the deeper messages of our faith, and are more ready for some of the more complex topics EWTN addresses (and we address, as well, just not every second of our show).

Look at it this way – there are people who still need to be fed milk. Our listener Mary is obviously ready for more solid foods, but Scripture tells us that we must keep in mind those who need to be nurtured.

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” – Hebrews 5:12-14

How are we to evangelize and reach new people for the faith if we do not identify where each person is on his or her own spiritual journey first?  If we meet someone with no understanding of the faith, but try to get them to eat the “steak” of deeper theology, we’ll choke them!

In contrast, imagine the thousands of people with SiriusXM radios who have complete and total disdain for the Church, but then they tune in and hear a welcoming voice that draws them in and makes them want to hear more. This applies, as well, to the thousands of unbelieving people who visit Catholic blogs or listen to Catholic podcasts. Not everyone is ready for an exegesis on an Aquinas level of the study of angels.

But when we share of ourselves (even if that involves endless chatter), we more fully open ourselves to allowing others to see the light of Christ shining from within us.

The flip side to Mary’s email?  Getting emails from people like Vicky who recently wrote:

When I first tuned into The Catholics Next Door, I scoffed and smirked.  But my eyes widened as soon as I heard how normal and REAL you both were. I continued to listen that day, had to park the car and just listen.  I had NO IDEA what a hardened sinner I was — that’s how thick and hard my walls were. But you didn’t make me feel bad…you provided light.

It was your show that woke me up and the Catholic Church did a ton more work. I needed a shovel to dig myself out of a very deep hole. Greg and Jennifer — you were THE ones who threw me the shovel. I had to do the digging but YOU threw me the shovel. YOUR SHOW was NO SMALL PART to bringing me back….it was THE PART! Am I being clear?

Are you understanding the work of God that you are doing???? Do you see the extent?

I, in turn, have surrendered my life to God and will do works that honor, praise and please Him.  Additionally, my 13 year old now has the faith and my beautiful husband is taking RCIA. You should call your self the Catholic Domino Effects Next Door”.

After that day when I first heard you — all these changes occured. I keep praying for God’s help and keep getting it. ALL of Heaven MUST be rejoicing.

Evangelization requires us to be real.  We need to start with the basics: We love you.  God loves you.  And we want to join you on this journey.

That sometimes takes more than 30 seconds.  Sometimes it may seem like idle chitchat.  But sometimes what may seem like chitchat can end up being the greatest form of evangelization.

I agree with Mary – Praise God for EWTN! But let us all not be so quick to discount others (bloggers, podcasters, website creators, authors, musicians, next door neighbors, or the woman at Church passing out bulletins after Mass) who are working in different fields for the Lord, cultivating different crops, but all working toward the same goal of leading souls to Jesus Christ through the Catholic Church.

Greg Willits

Greg Willits

Greg Willits is a media creator, radio host, podcaster, Catholic New Media trailblazer, co-author of The Catholics Next Door: Adventures in Imperfect Living and author of The New Evangelization and You: Be Not Afraid (Servant, 2013). He is the founder of New Evangelizers and the former Chief Operations Officer of the Star Quest Production Network and spends his time between tech development and Catholic Media Leadership and Productions. Greg currently serves the Archdiocese of Denver as Director of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries. He and his wife, Jennifer, have been married since 1995 and have four boys and a daughter.

10 responses to “Endless Chatter or Evangelization?”

  1. When I first tuned into The Catholics Next Door, I scoffed and smirked. This is exactly how I felt. I asked myself, Who are these guys. But the more I listened the better I understood God is everywhere and part of everything we do. Yes, I like to learn factual info about our Church but I NEED to learn how to live our faith even more.

  2. kimwhelan says:

    I’ve always loved you guys since your RA podcast days… 🙂

  3. anmargy says:

    I used to find EWTN a little overwhelming and over my head. I found you guys as a “Godincidence” when our car had a free 90 day subscription. I firmly believe God offers us the opportunity to get closer to Him, if we are open to His call. I belive your show helped in my process of bringing me back. Although, sadly I can no longer listen to your show live, I keep up to date via FB and now this website.

    May God continue to bless your family and your ministry.

  4. alweasel says:

    I’m also a fan from the Rosary Army podcast days.
    And i miss it. I have SiriusXM and listen to the show and love it. I love how sincere and real you all are. Your also all very entertaining. That is something that is missing in a lot of Catholic radio, TV and new media. There is a lot of info out there but if it doesn’t get me going i won’t be as quick to turn it on. And now the New Evangelizers has me going. The fire is going and time to do something with it.

  5. agnesr says:

    I completely agree, different strokes for different folks. However, I am sad to see that listeners like Mary are not open to new and different forms of Catholic media. So yes, maybe not all Catholic media is going to be your cup of tea, but I would just love if we would spend more time sharing what we love about Catholic media with others. For Mary that means telling everyone about how great EWTN is, and for Vicky, telling everyone how much she loves TCND. The bickering over what is better or ‘more protestant’ is really what I see as the ‘annoying chatter’ you find in most Catholic media. The new evangelization is about moving forward out into the world and spreading God’s word, keyword world. This is why I love the idea of new evangelization – because so often I feel like Catholic Media is preaching to the choir or worse, the choir is just bickering among themselves. That being said I love TCND and the Catholic Channel and I am very grateful for the impact you all have made in my own life. I am so glad to have you guys around.

  6. singmls says:

    I am also sad to hear of you receiving emails with a tone that somehow “The Catholic Channel” in it’s way of evangelizing is lesser than, as Greg said, the “steak” of deeper theology. I listen to both, I can’t get SiriusXM at work, so I listen to ewtn live – I don’t get ewtn in the car so I listen to The Catholic Channel. I love both – and have always loved The Catholics Next Door because it is a “real” representation of a couple/family discussing faith and living out their faith. I once was told by a priest that the beauty of the catholic faith is how diverse it is in it’s people. (just a paraphrase).
    I pray that the new “year of evangelization” will help to bridge some of the “bickering” that agnesr speaks of. I am looking forward to it. I have been reminded of Mother Theresa lately talking about love and charity beginning in the family. Well, it appears that this also applys to the “family” of the Catholic Church.

  7. newlife1 says:

    The one thing about a negative email/phone call—-you know they’re listening to the show!
    The last few years have taught me again and again that a book, a radio show, a television program, a commercial, meeting a new person….have all been for a reason. There was something I needed at that moment. I was in that place at that time for a reason…..

    How many zillions of opportunities have I missed? I’ll never know….
    perhaps that day, that lady found so much disatisfaction with your program because she was being nudged to try something new……..We all hate change but the journey is about change.
    Thanks for a great post Greg, you made me think!

  8. I love listening to the Catholic Radio, I reallly love the Greg and Jennifer Show and The Catholic Guy. It is so refreshing to our faith talked about in this way I just love you all and what you do everyday. Thank you for your time effort and inteligence.

    Suzanne Keenan

  9. pdl2012 says:

    I must confess that I agree with Mary that “EWTN” provides more profound Catholic radio broadcasting/transmission than “The Catholic Channel,” thus including: “The Catholics Next Door.” In this connection, I obtained the services of SiriusXM four (4) days ago because I was yearning for Catholic radio stations that would provide profound theological radio broadcasting/transmission. To my surprise, however, Sirius only has one Catholic station: “The Catholic Channel.” Unfortunately, my spiritual yearning was not satisfied.

    Notwithstanding such experience, I know that GOD has something in store waiting for me, which will be transmitted by and through “The Catholic Channel” and “The Catholics Next Door” Radio Show. I am confident and submit to the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ: “For your Father knows what your needs may be, even before you ask him.” See Mathew 6:8.

    However, I also agree that we must be adaptable to the methods utilized by all Catholic Radio Stations that broadcast/transmit rich evangelization. Moreover, such stations are part of Christ’s body and are led by the Holy Spirit.

    Truly I tell you, “The Catholic Channel” and “EWTN” are radio stations evangelizing by and through different shows, including “The Catholics Next Door,” that utilize different methods, but are both part of the same Spirit. Importantly, they are led by the same Spirit and their manifestations and works are of the same GOD. See 1 Corinthians 12:5-11 (“There are diverse ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diverse works, but the same God, who works everything in everyone. However, the manifestations are of the Spirit is given to each one toward what is beneficial. Certainly, to one, through the Spirit, is given words of wisdom; but to anther, according to the same Spirit, words of knowledge; to another, in the same Spirit, faith; to another, in the one Spirit, the gift of healing; to another, miraculous works; to another, the discernment of spirits; to another, different kinds of languages; to another, the interpretation of words. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each on according to his will.”).

    Therefore, “EWTN” and “The Catholic Channel” and their Radio/TV Shows, including “The Catholics Next Door,” are part of Christ’s body. See 1 Corinthians 12:12 (“For just as the body is one, and yet has many parts, so all parts of the body, though they are many, are only one body. So also is Christ.”) Accordingly, we must respect them and give glory to God that such stations and shows exist, as there are many lost and baffled persons that have benefit and/or will benefit from this stations and shows. Moreover, the audience will receive what they need, in the time of God, by and through “The Catholic Channel” and “The Catholics Next Door” because our Father knows what they need.

    Nonetheless, in my opinion, the authoritative individuals of “The Catholic Channel” and “The Catholics Next Door” need to pray for discernment and should discern whether God is asking from some change/adjustments.

    To the “The Catholics Next Door,” I will continue listening to your show because, as stated above, I know that God has something in store for me that will be transmitted by and through your show. May the Spirit of Christ always be with you.



  10. aluwir says:

    Indeed. I might or might not be engaged by the “chatter,” but think many folks are. A ‘take away’ phrase is, I think, “…my eyes widened as soon as I heard how normal and REAL you both were….”

    One of my daughters, a “writer who is Catholic,” not a “Catholic writer,” said that Catholics ‘normal person’ stuff is a good idea. I think she’s right.

    What is and isn’t ‘normal person’ stuff varies, of course. And that’s another topic.

Leave a Reply

next post: Bridging Vatican II and The Year of Faith

previous post: Spotlight on New Evangelizers