You’ve likely seen Return: How to Draw Your Child Back to the Church advertised on Facebook along with a photo of the author Brandon Vogt, a quote or video clip from Bishop Robert Barron, and/or maybe the endorsement from Matthew Kelly. Why are all of these men so excited about this book? Is it worth all of the hype?
Yes, it is, and then some!
There are many books out there that address how to share the Christian faith, the teachings of the Catholic Church, and how to witness to others what God has done in your own life. I’ve read quite a few of them, most of which have been insightful, informative, and thought-provoking. I have yet to come across a book that is as succinct as this one is in describing a game plan for inviting people back to the Church and a deeper relationship with Christ.
One of my favorite things about this book is that Brandon Vogt did tons and tons of reading and extensive research to get a handle on the who, what, why of the mass exodus and develop a plan to draw people back to Christ. I’m a voracious reader myself, so I can completely identify with this approach. I've read some of the books that Brandon recommends, but I have some others I've read that weren't on his list. Here’s a list of 25 books I’ve read, reviewed, and recommend about Catholics returning to the faith or developing a closer walk with Christ.
So often when I share about my husband coming back to the Catholic Church, people tell me how much they long to have their spouse, son, daughter, and/or grandchildren join them at the Eucharist, again. I encourage them that it’s never too late and that nothing is impossible with God.
Typically, the two main prayers I prayed when hoping Kevin would return to the faith in which he was raised were the Rosary and The Prayer to Mary for the Conversion of a Loved One which I found in a book called Praying with Mary byJanice T. Connell many years ago.
There are many more concrete suggestions on how to encourage an openness to God’s voice in Return. Award-winning evangelist, author, speaker, and blogger Brandon Vogt starts by going over some rather bleak stats that illustrate why and how people are drifting from the faith. He outlines the primary objections people say they have to Church teachings and the most prevalent reasons those people give for leaving.
It’s hard to address an issue if you don’t acknowledge it is one and discover the root source causing the problem, so this approach is a great way to start.
Vogt suggests assessing the situation, praying, fasting, and planting seeds in order to invite people to dialogue about the faith in a non-threatening way. Practical suggestions, personal stories, and examples make this book easily accessible and user-friendly.
Many of the tactics are the nuts and bolts of fostering better communication and relationships in general. Listening and asking questions are basic building blocks for good discussion and developing trust. Start there and search for common ground and shared values. Answer objections calmly and carefully, and keep in mind that you aren’t completely responsible for your child leaving or returning to the Church. That’s God’s piece. Our part is prayer, fasting, sacrifice, equipping ourselves with knowledge, and initiating some talks about the faith.
ReturnResources.com has a plethora of bonus features, links to the many articles, studies, and surveys Vogt consulted when researching for this book. The man did his homework and has put together a very doable plan for how to invite your loved ones and friends who have fallen away from the faith back into the flock.
I highly recommend Return: How to Draw Your Child Back to the Church for anyone who has a loved one they would like to welcome home to the Catholic faith. This is certainly a great guide for parents and grandparents, but really anyone can benefit from learning this plan of evangelization and putting it into action. These practical suggestions would be just as effective when talking with a spouse, sibling, relative, or friend. I honestly can’t think of a single person who wouldn’t benefit from reading this book and sharing it with others.