Helping Catholics talk about faith is goal of evangelization bootcamp

By | August 24, 2011

“I am so disappointed in myself. I know God, but can’t put my words together when I need to,” Korbisch, of Wittenberg, said. “I think it is a fear that people are not going to like what I say, that they are not going to buy into it. I fear turning them off. I am afraid I will say things wrong and be too much and too strong.”


Participants at an evangelization bootcamp sponsored by the Green Bay Diocese share a moment of silent reflection. The day-long workshop was held Aug. 20 at St. Anthony Church in Tigerton. (Steve Wideman | For The Compass)

Korbisch’s discomfort with evangelizing — a faith-sharing activity many Catholics more often equate with Protestant Christians — is not uncommon.

Learning to share the Catholic faith in a comfortable and confident manner is the focus of a series of Catholic evangelization bootcamps being sponsored by the Diocese of Green Bay.

The bootcamps, actually day-long workshops, are an outgrowth of the Catholics Come Home initiative, said Kristina DeNeve, director of spirituality and evangelization for the diocese.

“Coming out of Catholics Come Home there were a lot of people saying they just didn’t know how to talk about our faith,” said DeNeve, who runs the workshops. “We need to know more about how to talk about our faith and how to help other people do that.”

Korbisch was one of 12 people attending a bootcamp on Aug. 20 at St. Anthony Church in Tigerton.

“We all want to share our faith and show our excitement to others how great it is,” Korbisch said.

DeNeve said the bootcamps show participants how to use existing personal communication skills to share their faith.

Prior to the bootcamp, participants were asked to complete a 36-question survey unveiling one of six evangelization styles they already possess without realizing it, DeNeve said.

The styles offer faith-sharing techniques ranging from hands-on and quiet approaches to friendship-based, analytical and verbally-challenging methods.

“People have different styles and strengths in every area of life,” DeNeve said.

Bootcamp workshops teach participants to recognize signs of someone who is ready to be evangelized, the importance of community and Mass and how to talk about Scripture in a manner comfortable for Catholics.

“The bootcamps are really about getting in touch with yourself. Each one of us already has everything we need to be an incredibly effective evangelizer,” DeNeve said.

She noted that the reference to a bootcamp worries some potential participants.

“It’s called a bootcamp because it’s an intense day. At the end of an evangelization bootcamp people are in great shape to do what they are trained to do,” DeNeve said.

DeNeve said the bootcamps are not about teaching people new things.

“They are about getting people to understand evangelizing potential they didn’t realize they already have and giving them more confidence in sharing their faith. It’s about learning how God is working through you,” DeNeve said.

DeNeve said 50 people have attended the eight to 10-hour bootcamps throughout the diocese. “People have loved them. They are jazzed about building on their own strengths,” DeNeve said.

Mike Brandt, who is preparing to be a permanent deacon at St. Anthony, attended the Aug. 20 bootcamp and said the workshop offered valuable guidelines on answering questions about the church and helping people to come back to the Catholic community.

“The bootcamp helps you realize the best way of responding to people. The worst thing you can do with someone who has a question is to leave them hanging with no answer,” Brandt said.

Church groups interested in scheduling a bootcamp can contact DeNeve at [email protected] Workshops should have between eight and 20 pre-registered participants.

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