Dan Burke is an award-winning author, writer, and speaker on Catholic spirituality. He has written and/or edited nine books on faithful Catholic spirituality and is the Executive Director and writer for EWTN’s National Catholic Register. Dan is the president of the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, and the creator of Divine Intimacy Radio and SpiritualDirection.com.
There’s a lot of talk about the New Evangelization, but for ordinary Catholics, it can seem underwhelming. Just what does it mean? And how do you pull it off in the midst of your already busy life?
Parishes, too, can find the call to evangelization challenging. Talk to almost any parish secretary about turnout and volunteer rates: how do you get people excited about yet another parish program? And then how do you staff the thing?
That’s where ChristLife comes in. My own parish is actually in the beginning phases of rolling it out. It’s a process that requires an investment of people. It’s not a “once and done program,” but rather a change in mindset.
ChristLife’s vision is “to equip Catholics for the essential work of evangelization so that others might come to know personally the love of God through Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit, becoming his followers and members of the Church.” Their job is to introduce you to Jesus and then train you to share the Good News with others.
In other words, they teach people to evangelize based on their passion for Christ.
“Our parishes are the places in which the work of the New Evangelization — a work which belongs to all the baptized — first takes place,” wrote Archbishop William Lori in his endorsement of ChristLife. “With so much being said about the New Evangelization, I am happy to recommend the work and ministry of ChristLife, a Catholic ministry of evangelization.”
Dave Nodar founded ChristLife in 1995 to help “the people of our day,” including those who are in the pews and those who are not, said Archbishop Lori, “to personally encounter Jesus Christ and follow Him as disciples and members of the Church.”
Currently, parishes in over 40 dioceses in the United States, Canada, Australia, Slovakia, and Nigeria are experiencing ChristLife.
The ChristLife process includes three seven-week courses: Discovering Christ, Following Christ, and Sharing Christ.
The first course, Discovering Christ, invites people of all backgrounds to encounter Jesus and be part of the Church. Following Christ, the second course, covers Catholic discipleship with topics on prayer, scripture, sacraments, and spiritual warfare, among others. Finally, Sharing Christ, the final course, trains Catholics how to share Jesus with others and invite them to be part of the Church.
Part of what makes the first course Discovering Christ unique is that it begins with dinner. The group is encouraged to relate to each other by doing one of the most fundamental human bonding experiences: eating together. Each evening is designed to be around two-and-a-half hours long, with teaching (either video-based or live) being only 45 minutes of it.
“All across the United States the reality is that our parishes, while even running the best catechetical programs in the world, may miss the foundational proclamation of the Gospel and the call to conversion,” according to the ChristLife website.
This is the sort of process so many of us need and long for. To really live our baptismal promises and the call we have as Christians, we have to know who Christ is and feel passionately about him.
ChristLife's YouTube channel includes dozens of video testimonies, endorsements, and course overviews.