Bishop Robert Barron is offering a free online course on evangelization as part of an effort to respond to what he calls “the greatest challenge of our time,” the increasing number of people who have no religious affiliation.
“This problem is especially acute among the young,” says Bishop Barron in an introductory video for the course. “Upwards of 40% of those under 30 in our country now claim No Religion, and in fact the number’s worse among young Catholics, where it’s upwards of 50%,” for those under 20.
Instructors in the course are Word on Fire Fellows, including Leah Libresco, author of Arriving at Amen and Building the Benedict Option; Christopher Kaczor, author of The Seven Big Myths about the Catholic Church and Life Issues, Medical Choices, and Holly Ordway, author of Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Integrated Approach to Defending the Faith. The course includes lessons on reaching out to “the indifferent,” how the “nones” can misread the Bible, imaginative apologetics, and science for evangelists.
The course is part of a movement that Word on Fire is trying to get off the ground, centered on a Word on Fire Institute. That came about in response to a request from some of the younger staffers at Word on Fire for some kind of religious community affiliated with the work.
“Young people were so committed to [the work of Word on Fire] that they really wanted it to be a whole style of life,” Bishop Barron said on the Word on Fire Show.
The first step of the process, Bishop Barron explained, is to form a community of evangelists who share the same mission and desire to proclaim Christ using beauty, goodness, and truth. “The critical task of training modern evangelists to effectively proclaim Christ to the culture is the primary motive behind the establishment of the new Word on Fire Institute,” said Bishop Barron, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
“We need a vast, well-formed army of evangelists,” says the director of the Institute, Jared Zimmerer, “who encourage one another, strive after a radical relationship with Christ through the sacraments, and leave their doorstep every single day ready to proclaim Christ in the culture.”
Those who join the Institute, for $27 a month, also will have free access to Word on Fire Digital, which includes all of Bishop Barron’s films, including his Catholicism series; public talks; recordings, and study materials.