I want to change the world, and I think I can do it. But I’m a young 20-something, and the older adults I meet tend to be jaded. “I thought we could save the world by doing thus-and-such,” they say, “and look how that turned out.” So, of course, I worry that when I hit 30, I’ll just hunker down and finish my life in a sort of default Catholic family. That sounds so boring.
Matthew Kelly changed all that. Kelly is approaching 40 and is still out to change the world. His The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic is a practical step-by-step instruction book on how to do that. Kelly’s business background and can-do attitude asks practical questions and looks for practical solutions. And he finds them.
While I was reading it, friends would ask about the book. I’d say, “He points out that about 7 percent of Catholics provide about 80 percent money and volunteer time given to the church…”
Without fail, I heard: “That’s so true.”
We all know it. What the Catholic Church needs is a game-changer, Kelly says. What does that 7 percent of Catholics have and how can we make it spread?
The first answer, he found, were the four signs: prayer, study, generosity, and evangelization. So he spends four chapters giving practical, step-by-step advice on how to pray, how to get people to read more, how to change attitudes toward money (and not just ask for more of it), and how to evangelize.
This isn’t a book of theology. It’s a book of practicality. People don’t pray? Why not? “Most people when they pray sit down and see what happens, and of course very often nothing happens. So they get frustrated and stop praying.” (We’ve all been there.) So Kelly finds out how the 7 percent prays, then provides a step-by-step guide for getting into a routine of prayer.
People don’t know enough about the faith? Let’s give them free books, he says. No – let’s start a program where parishes can purchase books at very low cost and give them to their parishioners every Christmas. Why?
“Imagine if a business knew that all their previous customers were coming together on the same day in the same place. What would they do with this information? Businesses would pull out all the stops and overcome every obstacle to find ways to re-engage those customers.” So why shouldn’t we?
Kelly’s ideas often seem obvious, but they must not be because many Catholics and Catholic parishes aren’t doing them. So, Kelly says, let’s start. Find out what works and do more of it, he says.
He brings a refreshing perspective to the arena. He is not a theologian, not a priest, not a scholar, not a politician, not an inexperienced 20-something. He is a business consultant whose life was changed when he saw what he calls “the genius of Catholicism” – and he wants to change others’ lives, and, thereby, the world.
The Catholic Church is a sleeping giant, he says. All we need to do is wake up, smell the coffee, drink it, and get moving.
So let’s do it.