Americans love to buy things. Many even consider “going shopping” an actual recreational activity. But for most people, before they surrender their hard-earned cash on a new pair of shoes, a phone, or a car nothing sways consideration between choices more than a personal recommendation of someone they know who has used the product. The personal experience of friends goes a long way toward giving them confidence that they are making the correct decision. In the world of marketing, this kind of product endorsement is called a “testimonial.”
The first celebrity endorsement came in 1882 when Pears’ Soap used a picture of Lillie Langtry, a famous actress, on its advertising poster.[i] Manufacturers soon learned that if they have a familiar face admit to using their product, their product will have more credibility. If this was not the case, advertising today would simply consist of listing out the benefits of a product and expecting people to make a rational choice.
All catechesis, especially in RCIA, requires that we do more than simply list true facts about the faith. If we want to lead people to a deeper conversion and a genuine “yes” to Jesus, we must employ the power of personal testimony from those leading them to Christ.