Grow Your Faith by Sharing Your Faith
By Chris Stewart and Tony Brandt
Our Sunday Visitor, 2015
128 pages, $12.95
To order: osv.com/Shop/Books.aspx
Casting Nets: Grow Your Faith by Sharing Your Faith by Chris Stewart and Tony Brandt is the kind of book that energizes you spiritually and fills your heart with the zeal and the courage to go out into the public square and evangelize. If not the public square, then at least in your home, school, workplace or wherever you encounter people who hunger for God. And in our world today, you will find people everywhere who hunger and thirst for the Gospel message. As enthusiastic evangelizers who have traveled the country and who have made guest appearances on EWTN TV, Stewart and Brandt have trained individuals, parishes and dioceses to successfully bring souls to the Lord.
In this compelling book, the duo equip us with the tools we need to effectively evangelize. They present seven pillars, which they define as “foundational attitudes or principles that allow effective evangelization to take place.” The seven pillars include: prayerful, invitational, hospitable, inspirational, sacramental, formational and missionful.
“Prayerful”: Tony and Chris emphasize the importance of prayer as the way to begin evangelization. Prayer is the key to personal sanctification. We are unable to evangelize without a strong prayer life.
“Invitational”: There are many ways to invite others, but to be effective, the invitation must be personal, practical and persistent.
“Hospitable”: We need to sincerely welcome others as we would welcome Christ. Our hospitality needs to be honoring, humbling and hyper-extensive.
“Inspirational”: Our world, our lives, our marriages, our parishes and our dioceses must all be vivid signs that we are called to live supernaturally. We will be effective evangelizers when we live out the theological virtues of faith, hope and love.
“Sacramental”: There are four sacraments that play a major role in evangelization — baptism, confirmation, Eucharist and penance. They empower us to do God’s work in the world.
“Formational”: We need to develop relationships with others. In addition to formal catechetical instruction, those who are interested in the faith need to experience informal interactions outside of a classroom to learn what living Catholicism is all about. Bible studies, family-to-family groups and generational groups are wonderful way of accomplishing this.
“Missionful”: We must help those we have prayed for and invited to the faith to turn outward and draw others in, too.
The authors explain each of the principles and then clearly and concisely demonstrate how each has been put into practice. Captivating personal anecdotes bring credibility to their pillars.
In Casting Nets, Chris speaks about the power of the theological virtues in inspiring others in the faith. He tells us that in our world people are often devoid of hope and shows us how to revive hope in the hearts of God’s children.
For example, he describes how one young man in his high-school youth group had been struggling with drug use and sexual sins. Chris led him to the front pew of the empty church, telling him, “No, do not tell me that your sins are too bad or too many for Christ to forgive. Tell him. Look at that crucifix and tell him that he did not suffer enough for you. Tell him that if he had only been scourged a few more times or hung on that cross for a few more minutes then perhaps he would have done enough to be able to forgive you of your sins.” The young man went to confession, and, through the grace of God, he turned his life around. Today a police officer, he is married and has a faith-filled family.
Casting Nets is an easy-to-read, useful guide that will give confidence and courage to any Catholic who seeks to spread the Gospel message. It is an inspiring, uplifting and valuable manual for living the faith and reaching out to others to bring them “home” to Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church.
Jean M. Heimann blogs at CatholicFire.blogspot.com.