During an annual stewardship renewal, it’s typical for many parishes to have one weekend dedicated to a lay witness presentation at all Masses. This is a a good opportunity for parishioners to hear from one of their own about how they are trying to more fully live out their Catholic Faith.
While this is an opportunity to evangelize people, as with anything, the lay witness presentation can be hit or miss. Too often, parishes mistakenly believe that if they just have some parishioners get up and talk, it will make a positive impact. This obviously is not the case. The content of the talk is as critical to it’s effectiveness as is the speaker. The delivery is important, too, but secondary to the content. As long as the delivery is sincere, there doesn’t need to be an overemphasis on style. It’s the substance that matters most.
The following is a simple yet effective outline for a lay witness talk during an annual stewardship renewal:
1. Introduction with brief overview of personal background and info on parish involvement. Do not let this become a long blow-by-blow breakdown of every parish ministry that the lay person has been involved in for the past 20 years.
2. Define stewardship. In a nutshell, it’s how we live out our lives each day as a Disciple of Christ.
3. Share specific actions taken to become a better steward and describe the impact it has had in your life and, if applicable, your family’s life. This could include one or more of the following: returning to Mass on a weekly basis, attending Mass more than once a week, a weekly adoration hour, personal or family daily prayer, getting involved in a parish ministry or outreach effort, increased offertory giving, tithing, etc.
4. Close the talk with a reference to the annual renewal and encourage fellow parishioners to ask God where He is calling them individually and to use the commitment cards as an opportunity to take a step in faith to grow closer to Him.
Follow this simple outline and your lay witness talks will be more effective in reaching parishioners’ hearts and accomplishing what they need to do during your annual stewardship renewal.