On/File: A Continuing Record of People, Groups, Movements, and Events Impacting Religion

Father James Mallon has gained prominence among Catholics for his synthesis of evangelical and Catholic practices while growing his parish in Canada, and now he is taking his teachings on the road with the formation of the Divine Renovation Network. Based on his widely popular book Divine Renovation, the network will work with churches in North America and overseas offering Mallon’s recipe of evangelical church growth practices based on small groups, megachurches, and orthodox Catholic teachings. The small group evangelism and discipleship movement Alpha has particularly influenced Mallon, who has a background in the Catholic charismatic movement. His church in Halifax, Nova Scotia, has close to 1,600 attenders—the largest congregation east of Montreal—with about 40 percent active in discipleship groups. Over 40 percent of the people in his recent Alpha groups have been unchurched. In joining Catholic identity with evangelical practices, Mallon says that Catholics have the advantage over evangelicals of being able to turn “consumer demand into spiritual desire.” He is referring to the greater demand for services—weddings, funerals, baptisms—in Catholic churches that can be “upped” to more in-depth opportunities to teach the faith (for instance, requiring that parents attend an Alpha group before the child is baptized).  (Source: The Tablet, June 24; Christian Century, July 19).