On Jan 13th, Fr. Dwight Longenecker @dlongenecker1 wrote 10 Reasons Why Catholics Don’t Evangelize. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2016/01/ten-reasons-why-catholics-dont-evangelize.html
I think his #6 Ignorance, or (I think) feeling ignorant, is really the main reason why Catholics don’t evangelize. At least, ignorance will explain the other 9 points. However, the article screams out another question:
How do we actually evangelize?
We have all heard that it is necessary to evangelize, but so many of us are cradle Catholics. It’s not like we have watched someone evangelizing to ourselves. So, how do we start? Assuming that one can put aside the feeling of ignorance in our own church teachings, where do we start? I don’t really think shouting on top of your lungs at a busy road intersection will work.
I am definitely not qualified to answer this on my own, but I happened to have read a few articles/webpage/book in the last few days that when I put the information all together, it presents itself like a nice if-or flowchart-type mindset of instructions to evangelize. Let me share it here.
- I have this gut feeling that there might be more introverts than extroverts among all Catholics. (This might actually be a good pew research topic.) Anyway, if you are an introvert, you really probably won’t go out to the street and meet a stranger and talk to that person about God and religion. So, it looks like the best way is for you to go out there and perform some good works, be it volunteering or donating. Basically, anyway to show how a Christian should act. Let your action shows God’s love. After all, God is love and that’s the message that you want to present to someone who has never met God.
- Now, you might have the curiosity of others and they want to know why you act in the way you do. When this opportunity arises, talk about God is love and God loves them.
- If you still have their attention, then go ahead and talk about whether one can be “good” without God. Really, tell them why you need God to guide you to do “good”. Personal stories are the most attractive. Let them reflect. (Here’s @catholiccom article on “Can you be Good without God?” http://www.catholic.com/blog/todd-aglialoro/can-you-be-good-without-god )
- If they conclude that they need God, then proceed and talk about Christ.
- Now, if your aim is to invite the other to join your Catholic church, talk about how we meet Christ at mass, how God forgives us when we join in communion and participate in the Eucharistic meal, how we are the Body of Christ, and how we are embraced by his love among the rituals at mass.
- If you need to invite Catholics who left the church earlier to come back and join us again, you will need to talk about the difference between a theist and a Christian, how being a Christian means being with people whom we can see, even if it means standing among people that you like or not. (It might be worth reading Rolheiser, Ronald. The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality. New York: Doubleday, 1999. Print. P. 61-62.)
I know this seems like a set of simple instructions, but I think having instructions is better than not having any at all. At least, I think it’s worth a try. I am going to try this for the next few years. Perhaps, I will write another blog a few years down the road; Or, I might just write another set of instructions.