Posted by: L. E. Barnes | September 20, 2010

On Not Imitating Jehovah’s Witnesses

I came across this video clip on YouTube and thought I’d pass it along. It’s part of a sermon by Mark Driscoll, the “preaching and theology pastor” at Mars Hill Church. You can get more details about his sermon, as well as the church, here. (Don’t ask me about the weird images at the beginning of the clip.)

So what do you think? Can we as Catholics take anything useful from Driscoll’s remarks (in regard to evanglization, that is)?



  1. Catholics are notoriously bad about evangelization, yet we have the greatest treasures of all, the sacraments where we encounter Christ personally. We can learn a lot from non-Catholic Christians about evangelizing, which we will not be successful doing unless we are Christ-centered and working on holiness.

    In the days when nuns wore habits and ran hospitals and other charitable organizations and kept to the spiritual life and charisms of their order I think many people came to the Church through their ministrations. But that world is gone and so we laity must work hard at attracting others to the Church.

    I liked the simple approach Driscoll gave, especially the “If you ever want to go to church I’ll pick you up.” We need that.

    • I fear that liberal Catholics have done the Church a lot more harm than good. Religious orders that have abandoned their charisms seem to be losing members while those that are retaining their traditional ways are growing. Small wonder…

      But I’m sick of Catholics losing people to these evangelical and fundamentalist groups that teach that the Catholic Church doesn’t have the truth and that to truly have a “born-again experience” you have to become one of them. I’m sure it’s largely because of Catholics being poorly catechized and thus not knowing how to defend their faith–or even knowing the treasures that have always been available to them in the Catholic Church. So sad.

  2. […] On Not Imitating Jehovah’s Witnesses […]

  3. What you say is true, Evan. I went to Catholic school most of my life but learned very little about the teachings of the church. Everything I’ve learned came from the time I spent with the Little Sisters of the Poor or learned on my own.

    And, I certainly was never taught about how to share our faith with others. That’s no excuse, of course, I should do a better job sharing my faith with others.

    • We all probably need to do a better job of sharing our faith–yours truly included. We’re all called to evangelize, not just priests and religious.

  4. “I’m sleeping.” Yes he is. 🙂

    Catholics can learn from Driscoll the non-confrontational, inviting approach. “Can I serve you?” is a great way to start a relationship with someone because who doesn’t want to be served?

    And if we could only get people to mass … that’s where it all comes together. Attending mass did it for Merton, from his Seven Storey Mountain:

    In a certain sense, these people [intellectuals enamored of Roman Catholic history & culture] have a better appreciation of the Church and of Catholicism than many Catholics have: an appreciation which is detached and intellectual and objective. But they never come into the Church. They stand and starve in the doors of the banquet — the banquet to which they surely realize that they are invited — while those more poor, more stupid, less gifted, less educated, sometimes even less virtuous than they, enter in and are filled at those tremendous tables.

    • Merton makes a great point. Too bad that people who have all the evidence before them of what the Church has nonetheless stay on the outside.

      Driscoll may have a good point about potential problems with doing door-to-door “witnessing.” People can easily just regurgitate some stuff they’ve learned in classes at their church or materials they’ve read without presenting a vibrant faith that others should desire. And yes, we need to see people as people and not just targets for conversion. Show that you actually care about them, not just that you’re out to prosyletize.

      Thanks for commenting!

  5. I guess the words of his “Pope(s)” mean little to the speaker in the video. So sad.

    POPE JOHN PAUL II is quoted in L’Osservatore Romano (weekly edition in English) of April 30, 1984, as saying: “Witness, as my predecessor Paul VI stressed, ‘is an essential element of evangelization, and generally the first’ (Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 21). It is particularly urgent in our era, in the disorientation of minds and in the eclipse of values that are shaping a crisis which is revealed ever more clearly as a total crisis of civilization.” A year earlier, another issue of the same journal reported on a papal audience under the headline “World of work needs Christian witnesses.”

    Best wishes,
    Jay at

    • The man is this video clip is not Catholic, so I doubt he would give any weight John Paul II’s words. But spreading the gospel is important for Christians to do. No doubt about that. I think this fellow was condemning what he sees as people mechanically regurgitating some things they’ve memorized; plus, he seems to be emphasizing the need to show that we really care about people are not just viewing them as targets for conversion. As the saying goes, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

      Thanks for commenting!

  6. Good reply there.

    Considering that doctrine changes not only between religions but, as I have found, church to church within the same belief system ( also in the same town ) that the Bible doesn’t appear to be the standard of one’s beliefs.

    (Matthew 22:37-40) 37 He (Jesus) said to him: “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 The second, like it, is this, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments the whole Law hangs, and the Prophets.”

    If all would/could take the Lord’s words any try to apply them in their lives,
    maybe then no one would have to go canvasing to people’s homes spreading the Gospel.

    My best wishes,
    Jay at

    • Actions truly speak louder than words. The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that sometimes Christians themselves have to shoulder responsibility for turning people away from Christianity because of their behavior. Sad, but true. Living the faith can be a much better witness than distributing tracts or preaching on a street or on TV.

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