Three years ago last week, I posted my very first video on YouTube. It was dreadful. But it was also so cool. With just a camera and a computer, I was able to tell my story in a quasi-entertaining way and reach people all around the world. Sure, it was rough, but after only ten videos, I knew that I had tapped into something special.

In today’s world, nearly anyone can produce high-quality and entertainment works. Technology has become so accessible and easy to use that full-length documentaries and award-winning movies have been shot on iPhones. Right there in nearly everyone’s pocket is all that one needs to reach the world in a breath-taking way.

And so many are taking advantage of this incredible time in history. YouTube is absolutely exploding with new content and creators, standing as the second largest search engine in the world. People with no film background, no media training, and some with as little technology as their smartphones have mesmerized the world with their creativity. They have a story to tell, and they’re doing it. They don’t need a movie studio. They don’t need a production company. They don’t need expensive equipment or big budgets or powerful friends. In today’s world, all you need to get your story heard is a phone and enough ingenuity to tell it right.

For three years, I have operated under that assumption for the sake of growing the kingdom of God. I have a story to tell. We have a story to tell. Even more than from the pulpit or soapbox, our story can be effectively told from our living rooms in front of a camera, reaching people where they are rather than expecting them to come to us. This is not a hobby or a fun activity but a ministry as important to the life of the Church as the early missionaries going to foreign lands. Pope Benedict XVI himself said it a few years ago, encouraging those missionaries who evangelize on the “digital continent” to see what they do as critical to the life of the Church.

But do we? Do we invest enough time, talent, and treasure into our digital media? Do we take seriously our parish websites, Facebook pages, videos, and digital identity? Too often, the Church finds itself in a category of its own: watchable only because it has a good message but otherwise dull and out-of-date. Recognizing of course that there are some out there that do this very well, I think that we could do much better. The stakes are just too high and the opportunity too profitable not to.

As I look to the future of Breaking in the Habit, I find myself called to a two-fold mission. First, I want to encourage the Church to take up this incredible opportunity we have in our age and begin to take seriously the digital world as a realm for evangelization. I want to support new creators to think boldly, offering them what I have learned so that they don’t have to make the same mistakes that I have. I want to remove any excuse in people’s minds that they do not have a story to tell or that they are unable to tell it. The world needs to hear their voice. Your voice.

On the other hand, I want to create an environment of collaboration for the “best of the best” in both the Catholic world and the media world. I know that anything that talks about God will have an obvious disadvantage in our world today, but I honestly don’t think that the bar we have set for ourselves is high enough. Even the best creators in the Catholic world—men and women far more talented than I am—weigh in as below average in the grand scheme of YouTube creators. Maybe we won’t ever be able to amass 25 million followers like some secular channels, but the fact that there are only a small handful of Christian-based channels above 500,000 subscribers and not a single Catholic channel over 150,000 frustrates me. Jesus said to go to all nations… not a population roughly the size of Bridgeport, CT. We can do better.

If either of those goals inspires you, let me know. I do not have a magic potion or a secret plan to accomplish either, but I have three years of experience, a lot of passion, and a few good ideas rolling around in my brain waiting to be put into action. Maybe you’re the person the Church needs to get that done.

Longtime readers will know that I wear my habit everywhere. It’s kind of my thing… School, church, airports, stores, wherever. It’s a great way to evangelize, and I never miss an opportunity.

Well, I guess not never…

This week, I went to one of the few places I will never wear my habit. Turns out its where one of our friars works. Where is this place? Check out this week’s new video!

“If you want something done right, do it yourself.”

Although a tad overused and basically a cliché, there’s something very truthful about this bit of advice. No one else can get it done exactly the way we want, so why leave it up to others when we are able to do it ourselves? We’re just going to be disappointed.

And if all we’re focused on is a “thing,” a task to be completed, then I think it would be a great motto for life. But is it ever just about the task?

No task is ever separated from relationships; no thing to be done without people doing them. As much as we would like to do everything ourselves, we simply can’t, and really, shouldn’t want to. Doing something ourselves is efficient, yes. It gets a job done and we’re happy. But that’s all it does: it gets a job done. When we do everything ourselves, no one else learns that they can also do it themselves. No one else ever learns that they are capable and responsible and important. Nothing is ever accomplished except for that one job.

What if we had a different approach? What if, rather than “do it yourself,” we tried “do it together”? Sure, each task might be a little more laborious. It might have more conflict and not get done exactly how we want it to. But look what else might happen: others will feel a part of something, share the load, and be able to pass on the skills to the next job. When we do things together, a mission can live beyond us.

For me, this is advice that we greatly need in our Church. Even though we know we should do things together in ministry, even though we’re told to love one another and it’s about the person and not the task, sometimes we can fall into this model, even at Church. Sometimes we try to do everything ourselves, failing to train the next person, to include others, to take the time to make it about “us” rather than the task at hand.

This lent, we are called to go on mission, together. We are called to truly be Church, to look beyond the task right in front of us and see what is really important: the people doing the task. He could have gotten a lot more done if it were about the task. He could have done it all himself and completed it just the way he wanted. Instead, Jesus sent his disciples out of on mission, and never alone. There was something more at work in the mission than just the “work.” Jesus was building something beyond himself, and so must we. As much as we love a “do it yourself” attitude, what our Church truly needs—what we truly need—is a “do it together” attitude.

If you’re interested in more reflections like this, you can purchase my book, Called: What Happens After Saying Yes to God on Franciscan Media:

Faith is an interesting thing. Where does it come from? How do we receive it? Where does it go sometimes?

As we are faced with the sobering reality that so many of our young people are either leaving the Church or being brought up in a secular world, we can see how delicate the faith we possess is. Though nearly two millennia in age, it would take but one generation for it to disappear. If no one receives it today, who will be around to pass it on tomorrow?

Now, I should say that I do not believe that we are in such a bleak situation as to say that the Christian faith is being wiped off the face of the earth. Worldwide the number of Christians continues to rise and is stronger than ever in some places. But I do think, especially in the West, it is a question we have to ponder: are we doing enough to make sure that the faith we possess will live beyond us. While it may not disappear completely, there isa good chance that it will be left weaker than when we received it.

For me, that’s just not good enough. Sure, we are facing a secular society that might be as volatile towards religion as it was at the time of the French Revolution. Of course, levels of atheism or non-affiliation may be the highest they have ever been. These are realities for sure, but they are not excuses. The world has seen troubled times, and our Church, trust me when I say, has been through worse. The issue is not the world; the issue is whether or not we have the faith and charisma and effort to infuse that world with something we know is worth handing on.

Will you help me hand on what you have found to the next generation? You can start by clicking here to watch this week’s vlog.

It’s a terrible state in our Church today that 50%—yes, fifty percent—of our parishes report rates of church attendance below the median.

It’s also true by definition that fifty percent fall below the median because the median of any data set is the exact middle, meaning that I could have said anything and it would have been true! Fifty percent of our children fall below the median reading level! Fifty percent of NFL teams fall below the median in ticket sales! Fifty percent of dogs fall below the median level of treats received in a day.

Now that last one is tragic…

My point in using this bizarre example is to show that statistics do not speak for themselves. Taken out of context, selectively presented, or intentionally deceptive—as in my attempt to confuse you with the word “median”—a bit of information may be factually correct and yet at the same time very misleading.

Such is the case with the priest shortage crisis. For years we have heard statistics telling us that the total number of priests is considerably lower than needed, that seminaries are emptier than they were in 1975, and that more parishes than ever are being run without a resident priest. And in themselves, these statistics are factually true. Thanks to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), the Catholic Church can quickly and accurately quote any amount of precise numbers about the shape of the Church across time.

The problem is that these numbered are not often placed  within their appropriate context meaning that they do not necessarily convey the correct meaning. Too often, as we see in politics and advertising, these numbers can be used incorrectly, in a misleading fashion, or simply reported incorrectly, giving the impression that something is better or worse than it seems. For years we have known that there is a crisis on our hands, and yet, for years many have perpetuated misleading or false statements about what that crisis actually is.

In this week’s video, found here for email subscribers, I try to dispel five myths about the priest shortage crisis, putting commonly held statistics and beliefs within their appropriate contexts.

It’s important to note my intention in making this video. I by no means am trying to mitigate the issue or gloss over its effects. Despite trying to break down these myths, I am not trying to say that there is no crisis. There definitely is. The issue, for me, is to make sure we truly understand what that issue is.