Gifts that Evangelicals Bring to the Catholic Church
A wave of converts from evangelical communities has been sweeping over the Church in America in recent years.
Think of leaders whom we have written about such as Scott Hahn, Marcus Grodi, and Steve Wood. And our own Fr. Daniel Bowen, a convert from the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The skills and talents they bring from their Protestant traditions is a breath of fresh air. These gifts certainly serve in many ways as a shot in the arm for our Catholic Church.
We might even speak of “Seven Habits of Highly Effective Converts.” Calling to mind motivational author Steven Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” of some years ago, these bonuses cause Catholics to welcome and make up for what has been often lacking in their own behavior.
These seven habits are:
1. Enthusiasm. Our fundamentalist and evangelical neighbors and friends are not shy in talking to co-workers, neighbors and friends about God, salvation, sin and grace. Converts do the same. You have to admit that for many generations in this country, Catholics’ involvement in their faith often never went beyond the Church door.
After years of seeing Protestant leaders convert to the Catholic faith, however, we see an impact upon our faith lives. Watch the thousands of youth at Catholic conventions such as FOCUS singing and praying enthusiastically and bringing their energy into parishes and schools. FOCUS says the meetings are meant to become “a platform for sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and for making disciples.”
2. Love for Scripture and prayer. You cannot go far without finding books about or by Catholic converts. The very popular Surprised By Truth: 11 Converts Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons for Becoming Catholic give conversion accounts unlike any you’ve ever read.
Author Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas said of the people in this book,
These converts, coming from varied backgrounds, converged on the Catholic faith because their intellects were enlightened by divine grace to accept its truth…They bring apologetics to life in an exciting way.
The DVD “What Every Catholic Needs to Know About the Bible” was brought together by convert Matthew Arnold, and one of its four speakers is Scott Hahn.
3. Bringing ministry outside of the walls of the hierarchy. The days of “let Father do it” when it comes to evangelism are over. Lighthouse Catholic Media is a not-for-profit company that distributes CDs and digital downloads. Many of its authors are converts.
Author and writer Steve Ray and his wife Janet are certified guides to the Holy Land and lead pilgrimages throughout the Middle East and Rome.
4. Practical skills in carrying on their ministry. When evangelical ministers convert, they don’t all become truck drivers. Marcus Grodi, a Presbyterian minister, started the Coming Home Network, and is now the host of The Journey Home Program on EWTN.
We are only scraping the surface here. Protestants have excelled in such diverse skills as political organization, electronic communications and fundraising. We hope they bring even more of these skills to the Church.
5. Good preaching ability. These fellows, many of them trained as ministers, know how to rouse an audience. They bring their oratorical skills to appreciative Catholic audiences. Their sermons contain down-to-earth wisdom, compelling metaphors, often mixed with devotion, good cheer and humor. “It’s Adam and Eve,” not Adam and Steve,” one minister quipped.
While our Catholic Mass’s focal point is the Eucharist, Protestant services’ peak moment is the sermon. A Pew Research Center study recently quoted in Christianity Today found that Protestant sermons were more than twice as long as Catholic ones, and for black Protestants, more than three times as long.
Black Protestant sermons, like all Protestant sermons are long, and the main part of their services.
6. Admiration for tradition. You will find many evangelicals-turned Catholics such as Kenneth Howell and others expound on the Eucharist, love for Our Lady, the rosary, and respect for the magisterium of the Church.
Dr. Normal McCrummen, a former Protestant pastor, said in an article,
I am Catholic because I believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. I take literally the words of Christ as found in the sixth chapter of the Fourth Gospel.
7. They are not politically correct. They say what’s on their minds and hearts. Steve Ray addresses this in a video that has gotten more than 600,000 views, “Islam: What Every Infidel Should Know.” He admits in the talk that he is not politically corrrect. He sees himself
...as a watchman standing on the walls of the city, and people are sleeping in the city ... and I warn the people in the town that danger is approaching... people have ignored it and are not talking about it.
Furthermore, the Anglican convert Taylor Marshall has taken to task Catholic leadership for not talking about sin and hell. They are not following the example of John the Baptist who warned about the “wrath to come.” Taylor shows that without this preaching and the threat of eternal punishment there is not enough motivation for accepting Christianity.
These are the seven habits of highly effective Catholic converts. We hope they bring even more of their gifts to the Church.
If you liked this article, why not read this popular news item about how our St. Rocco’s parish in Cleveland dedicated a new chapel.