3. Good News Behind The Statistics
The statistics in previous sections seem very much gloom and doom. Yes, and we must accept it as true, a reality, so that we can address the real issues that confront us, and not imaginary ones. We need to know that young people are bored at Mass, we need to know they find the hymns ancient, we need to know that people of every age group are leaving and why. But we must not stop there.
Some important commentators from both the current Pope to the liberal theologian Karl Rahner have stated that the Church must get to a dedicated core of believers. Therefore they have predicted the Church will become smaller.
It is true that we must become that core of true believers, who really live out a Christ-centred life. In fact research has shown that the formation of dedicated Catholics is actually achieved not in parishes that are growing smaller, but actually in parishes that are growing.
There is some good news out there:
1. We have found the losses in Mass attendance tend to sit in some particular parishes, not as an across the board phenomenon.
2. Parishes such as Pennant Hills have shown substantial growth, so there is a way to grow. This parish grew from 1069 to 1830 attenders in less than three years. And the first steps are easy.
3. The one item that Catholics perform well on in the Church Life Survey. More Catholics that Uniting or Anglicans want to share their faith, 63% or two in three.
4. Methods which have been proven to work with effective Protestant parishes have also been shown to work with Catholic parishes.
The question for today isn?t what?s wrong with the church, people today ask ?what proof is there that there actually is a God??
So what?s the answer? Forget a detailed study of Theology. The only proof for people today that there is a God is seen in the evidently changed lives of Christian people. If someone sees that a Christian person they know are more generous, more spiritually content and more helpful than others, they will be attracted to Christianity.
Growing people spiritually to live out a genuine Christian life is the engine of evangelisation.