Church Losing Members From Lack Of Exciting Sermons?

Posted: June 6, 2012 in Social, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

I read an article in today’s issue of the Manila Bulletin that ex-bishop Teodoro Bacani admitted that the Catholic Church is losing “some of its faithful to charismatic movements”.  Reason identified is because Catholics “now prefer going to Catholic charismatic movements instead of the church mainly due to the lively speeches of the preachers”.

Candidly, although I do agree that there’s truth to this (from my own experience), I think it’s just the tip of the iceberg.  I think there is a more fundamental issue that’s creeping in and has led to a decline in the number of the faithful.

In my view, the Catholic Church is not just losing members due to more entertaining preachers from charismatic movements and the sleep-inducing sermons of their priests. I think it has a lot to do with what people think and feel about the recent preachings of the Church, especially its position on issues that directly concern them, their friends, relatives and everybody else they care about. People see the church as refuge for specific human concerns they encounter everyday. And my hypothesis is, Catholics are feeling that the institution is not open to receiving those with these human concerns based on the Church’s publicly stated positions on recent social issues.  The Church hasn’t only managed to exclude those that don’t conform to its teachings, it has also managed to disconnect with those that have sympathy for those excluded. Right or wrong, people feel that.  Intentional or not, their affinity with the Church will weaken.

From a marketing standpoint, apart from looking at the shifters and transferees and where they are going, they should also look at the number of fallouts and lapsed members.  And attempts should be made to deeply understand the whys to this declining number of the faithful. My gut feel tells me that the reason is beyond what happens every Sunday during the service. The real source of the disconnection happens every day.

Manila Bulletin article link:


(Follow @Pat_Talastas on Twitter)

  1. Strange. The article says that they’re being attracted to charismatic groups. There are charismatic groups within the Catholic Church. I attended a University that was very much involved in the charismatic renewal. I tried it out and didn’t care for it. Its too emotion driven. I tend to think God is more subtle, and too much of such “spiritual” experiences can be explained away.

    I have no idea what is happening in the Philippines. What I do know matters is reverence and true belief. You can’t make someone believe something by making is flashy. Certainly a homely that actually speaks to you and challenges you is better than one said by a priest who only gives feel good fluff homelies.

    I would disagree with you about the Church’s stance on morality. Sociologists are still trying to explain the reality that the more strict a religion is, the more that religion grows. See Rational choice theory in religion. The idea is that strict religions remove the “free riders” in a religion who might go to a service, eat donuts, but don’t actually contribute much to their community of faith because for them, its still not that important to them. By removing these people of lukewarm faith, the community tends to grow stronger. It attracts more people who will contribute more devoutly to the faith. Pandering to those who are weakly attracted to the faith doesn’t help the faith grow. it doesn’t offer a support network for those who practice the faith devoutly, and frankly when your faith is that weak, you’re commitment to going to services even when they don’t upset you isn’t that strong. The community falls apart.

    As such, if its the homily’s, the charismatic homelies might just be giving people the challenge and spark they need, while the status quo makes them question “What difference does this make anyway? I could be watching a movie or in the park hanging out with family.”

  2. To the Catholic Church: Content first, inspiration follows. Not opinion first, charisma follows. Leave that to radio commentators.

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