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Question:

Someone close to me has left the Church. How should I reach out to them?

Answer:

For many of us, this can be a challenging question. When people we love leave the Church, we may not always know how to relate to them in certain ways. Are some conversation topics off limits? Are there certain behaviors or decisions we can't support in good conscience? When someone or something is lost, Jesus shows two different attitudes in his parables.

One is actively seeking. Don't give up on this person and their life of faith. Ask them about their spiritual journey. Invite them to spend time with you in faith settings, as appropriate, and outside of them. Continue in relationship with those you love.

The other attitude Jesus shows is consistent witness in the waiting. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, the father doesn't go after the son. He waits for his return. However, the son knows his father is trustworthy. He remembers his father's fair treatment of the hired hands and knows it is safe to return, despite all he has done.

Your ability to change someone is quite small. However, you can change yourself. Make sure you consistently treat others with kindness, compassion, and respect. If your loved one wants a deeper conversation, they'll know you are a person to trust, a place to which they can return.

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