Lay Catholic Gus Lloyd takes new evangelization to the radio
Gus Lloyd is an American Catholic lay evangelist and radio host who operates Gus Lloyd Ministries, a multimedia apostolate that seeks to explain the Catholic faith for a general audience. Mr. Lloyd hosts Seize the Day, the morning radio show on Sirius XM’s The Catholic Channel. He attended broadcasting school and worked as a radio host before attending the Catholic School of Lay Evangelization in Pensacola, Fla., in the early 1990s.
Mr. Lloyd’s work includes the booklet series “A Minute in the Church,” collected in two volumes, and the bookMagnetic Christianity: Using Your God-Given Gifts to Build the Kingdom (2012). He writes a daily “60-Second Reflection” on the daily readings, which can be found on his website. He and his wife Michelle have four children and two grandchildren.
On Aug. 27, I interviewed Mr. Lloyd by email about his ministry.
You work as a Catholic apologist. What is that?
First, let me tell what it isn’t. It’s not someone who apologizes for being Catholic. (Though some people think we should!) An apologist is someone who explains and defends the faith. I help people understand what the church really teaches, especially the Biblical basis for the church’s teachings. Many people, even many Catholics, have great misunderstandings about why we believe what we believe. I try to clear up those misconceptions.
You’ve written a lot about your reversion to the Catholic faith after several years away. What inspired you to become a Catholic lay evangelist upon coming back?
It’s truly a calling from the Lord. Believe me, I never had designs on being an evangelist. I came to understand that God had given me particular gifts for a reason—to use them to benefit the Kingdom of God. I believe we can only be truly happy when we’re using our gifts for the glory of God.
How have Catholic apologetics changed or evolved during the course of your work with Gus Lloyd Ministries?
When engaging in apologetics, it’s important to know the facts—the nuts and bolts of the faith. You need to know how to explain things in a systematic way that makes sense. Early on, I was very focused on questions and objections that many non-Catholic Christians had about Catholic teaching. Lately, though, I’ve been a bit more focused on talking about a lot of the hot button social issues of the day like homosexuality, contraception, abortion, same-sex marriage, pornography, etc. These seem to be the areas where most people misunderstand the church’s stance and why the church teaches what she does.
What have been some highlights of your ministry?
In short, everything! I’m so blessed to be able to do what I love every day. I wanted to be on the radio since I was a little kid. To do that and be able to talk about God and faith everyday is amazing. Also, we’ve been able to get nearly a million copies of my books out there. I never would have dreamed that in a million years! I tell people often that I have to pinch myself every day and thank God for giving me so many opportunities to serve him.
What have been some challenges of your ministry?
Finding balance can often be the biggest challenge. Between doing a daily radio show, writing, traveling and speaking, life can sometimes be hectic. I have to remember to take some down time and quiet time every now and again to maintain my sanity.
Studies have shown that U.S. religious practices continue to decline across the board. What can ordinary Catholics do about this situation?
I wish I had a magic pill for this one! I’m a great believer that faithfulness is attractive. If we simply live out our faith, others will notice. That isn’t to say that we shouldn’t also talk about our faith; we should. To many, that’s an either/or proposition. I disagree. It is a both/and proposition. To me, it’s a threefold process: live out our faith, talk about how God has worked in our lives and invite others to experience God’s love in their lives.
As religious practices decline, the “new atheism” of popular writers like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins seems to be attracting many adherents. How do you approach agnostics and atheists in your work?
It really starts with respect. If you first establish mutual respect, then you can have a real conversation. Too often one side will look down on or belittle the other. This never fosters real conversation. I try to tailor the conversation to the person. Different people have different reasons for their lack of belief in God. Some are more scientific, others may have had a negative experience with religion. I think it best to share the story of how a relationship with God has positively affected our lives.
The rise of new multimedia platforms has challenged Catholics to evangelize in new ways, using technologies and methods unknown to the generations that came before us. How have you risen to this challenge in your own ministry?
As a radio guy, I’m a big proponent of using media. Naturally I think that radio is the most effective communication tool ever, but I also see the value in every form of media. I don’t naturally gravitate toward Internet and video, but I have found that they are a great extension of my primary medium of radio. I’m pretty old school, though, as I think there is nothing more effective than one-to-one communication for evangelization.
Not very long ago, it was still relatively rare for Catholic laypeople to become full-time evangelists and start “ministries” in the Protestant fashion. But today it has become common. How do you see this movement complementing the work of Catholic high schools, parishes and other institutions?
By our baptism, I believe we’re all called to be evangelizers. Lay ministries can never take the place of these institutions, but offer other avenues of sharing the Gospel. While high schools, parishes and other institutions have a broad-based message, lay ministries can be more specialized in what they offer—like apologetics, prayer ministries, Bible study, etc. Plus they can often make others more comfortable in being in smaller groups or even one-on-one. I think people are more apt to open themselves in smaller settings rather than in large groups.
From your perspective, what does the Catholic Church most need in the United States right now?
Revival! We need more people to be on fire with love for Jesus. This will then help spread the faith like a wildfire.
What do you want people to take away from your work?
First, I want people to come into a deeper relationship with Christ and his church. I want people to know that Catholicism contains the fullness of truth, and that the Catholic Church has the answers they seek. It’s really pretty simple: God loves you. He sent his Son to show the way to heaven. Christ died for your sins and conquered death through his resurrection. He founded a church, and that church still exists today to continue to point the way to heaven. Come on in!
What people, either living or dead, have inspired your faith the most?
First and foremost, my wife and my parents. I have had so many guides along the way. Dr. Scott Hahn was a huge influence on me after rediscovering my Catholic faith. I’m a big fan of the Church Fathers. And honestly, my listeners inspire me every day. It blesses me more than I can say to have so many people willing to share their lives with me.
How do you pray?
As St. Paul says, without ceasing! I love Scripture and the liturgy. My wife and I pray together every day. I like to think that my whole life is an ongoing conversation with God.
Where are you finding God in your life these days?
I’m really making an effort to find God in all things. I know that may sound rather broad and perhaps cheesy, but it’s true. I love the old expression that everything in life is either a lesson or a blessin’. For me I’m trying to make it both!
What is your favorite Scripture passage and why?
My life verse is 1 Peter 4:7-11. This passage really sums up my life and my ministry. I try to live by these words every day.
How do you see the new evangelization evolving right now?
I think that more and more people are going to find that “the world” has less and less to offer. As Jesus said, the harvest is abundant but the laborers are few. We have to be ready and willing to meet people where they are, but not in a confrontational way. That’s why I’ve always loved radio. I can talk to people in a most intimate setting, and they don’t have to feel threatened. They can passively listen and then reflect on what they’ve heard. However, while effective use of media is necessary and great, there will never be a better form of evangelization than person to person. I form a relationship with my listeners, but, in the end, someone will need to be there to close the deal. Whether that’s a priest, religious or lay person, only God knows. But these things can all work in tandem to bring others to Christ.
If you could tell Pope Francis one thing, what would it be?
You’re doing great, and I wouldn’t want to have your gig.
What are your hopes for the future?
I hope to get to heaven, and that my wife and kids will be there as well. I hope for unity among believers. I hope that more people will open themselves up to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. I hope that I can continue to serve the Lord as long as I live.
What regrets do you have about the past?
I’ve done some awful things in my life (most of us have), but I have no regrets. Because I learned that God’s grace can work through anything and everything. Romans 8:28 (my second favorite Scripture passage) tells us that all things work for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose. Regrets tie us too much to the past. I’m working my way through today, and looking forward to tomorrow.
Any final thoughts?
One of my parish mission themes is “Loving, Learning and Living Your Faith.” I pray that we will all love, learn and live our faith!
Sean Salai, S.J., is a contributing writer at America.