Your Ministry is Not Working

And neither is mine.

For Christmas, a priest friend of mine gave me the book, Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus (Sherry Weddell). I’ve only gotten through chapter 1, but I am blown away by the statistics Weddell presents.

If you are a Catholic leader, you can’t read this book without have a renewed sense of urgency to change our models and practices of church.

Here’s why:

  • Only 30% of Americans who were raised Catholic are still “practicing” – meaning they attend Mass at least once a month (pg. 24).
  • Nearly half of cradle Catholics who become “unaffiliated” are gone by age 18. (pg. 33)
  • Nearly 80% of cradle Catholic are gone by their early 20’s (pg. 33).
  • Pew researchers found that attending CCD, youth groups, and even Catholic high schools made little or no difference in whether or not an American Catholic teen ended up staying Catholic, becoming Protestant, or leaving to become “unaffiliated” (pg. 35).
  • Statistics show that children (86%) and teenagers (69%) attend Mass more regularly than adults (42%) (pg. 35).

The data suggests very clearly that our models of church ministry are not effective. Weddell suggests that, “In the twenty-first century, cultural Catholicism is dead as a retention strategy” (pg. 39).

More and more, I analyze my ministry in the church to determine if I am doing the right things. The “National Study on Youth and Religion” has already suggested that much of our efforts working with teenagers and children must be focused on parents.

But, if only 42% of adults are practicing their faith on a regular basis, then focusing just on the parents that come on to church grounds is not enough.

The key for Catholic leaders is to reach out to Catholics who are not showing their face at Mass except for maybe on Easter and Christmas. This is one piece of the New Evangelization.

Pope John Paul II said it himself: “It is possible for baptized Catholics to be still without any explicit personal attachment to Jesus Christ; they only have the capacity to believe placed within them by Baptism and the presence of the Holy Spirit.”

Weddell stated it very clearly: “The majority of Catholics in the United States are sacramentalized but not evangelized. They do not know that an explicit, personal attachment to Christ… is normative Catholicism as taught by apostles and reiterated time and time again by the popes, councils, and saints of the Church” (pg. 46).

So, what do we do now?

Question: In light of the data, what do you have to do differently in your ministry

John Rinaldo

As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.


John Rinaldo


As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.



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