Evangelizing — making converts — is one thing; educating them is quite another. Catholic converts often have bad things to say about RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, a lengthy period of instruction in the Catholic faith preceding full entry into the Church, the quality of which varies from parish to parish but which is often shot through with nonsense, sentimentality, and occasionally heresy. Having spent a few weeks now in the shoes of an instructor, I regret my own bitterness toward those who instructed me, who I now see are thrust into the impossible position of having to abstract roughly two thousand years’ worth of Christian insight into approximately three dozen 45-minute chunks and relaying them to people who are so often products of their time and culture — that is, aggressively ignorant and Philistine almost to the point of being ineducable. Worse still, so many are functionally illiterate that a return to the historically normative (and superior) model of catechism-based education would probably be counterproductive.
I’m sure Protestants and Orthodox have their own horror stories to share, but I’m more interested in the success stories. How, having won potential converts, do we proceed to educate them effectively, and turn them out into the world ready to live authentically Christian lives?