I recently attended a Mass where the Priest talked about the importance of being attentive to the liturgy. The homily had some fantastic elements. He used humor, allusions to our daily lives (granted, they were sports metaphors, why do people always make sports metaphors?) and he was engaging. But! He missed one really big point–he didn’t tell us WHY we should go to Mass.
The Mass is where we have our greatest opportunity, as a community of brothers and sister in the Body of Christ, to come into communion with God, who created us to be in a relationship of love with Him, right? Sure I know that, but the average guy in the pew, praying he can beat the rush out of the parking lot, probably doesn’t.
Another issues is that we as evangelists and catechists sometimes spend too much time appealing to rational argument and Apologetics, instead of appealing to mankind’s longings. We empathize Church doctrine over relationship with God.
Don’t get me wrong, I love scholastic reasoning and there’s a place for it, but it doesn’t have the same power it used to. Sometimes, we spend too much time trying to convince people that the Church is right, and not enough time introducing people to the person of Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, the culture we live in today is a culture that is far more likely to make choices based on feeling rather than rational argument. The horror film and romantic novel industry thrive on the fact that we love to have our emotions engaged. Our concept of love has been reduced to a feeling , and we live in a culture that tells us to “do what makes you feel good”.
Fortunately, faith is not just an assent of the mind, but an assent of the heart. God does not just speak to our heads, but to the longing of our hearts as well.
So, how exactly do we evangelize and catechize those around us?
Its actually a much easier question than you think and you don’t have to be Scott Hahn to do it! If you know and love Jesus, you can evangelize! Here’s some tips,
1. Its all about Jesus—We should never evangelize or catechize without bringing the teaching back to Jesus. Anyone you talk to should leave knowing what your topic has to do with Jesus.
2. Get used to talking about Jesus to your Christian friends: I used to think it was a bit weird when some Christian friends would randomly break out into prayer. But the more we talk about Jesus in our daily conversations with other Christians, the more natural it will be to talk about God to other friends and co-workers.
3. Listen and ask questions: People really will listen to you if you listen to them. Jesus asked more questions than he gave answers. Listening fosters relationships, builds trust, and gives insight to who your talking to. It also provokes curiosity: Asking someone who they think God is makes them ask themselves that question.
4. Make it applicable—If you followed step 2 you’ll know the interests and problems of your audience. Jesus told stories about farming to farmers and I think he’s a pretty good modal l to follow 🙂 (FYI, if your going to start giving me a sports metaphor, I might zone out out, immediately. Sorry :))
5. Make it dismissible: The Gospel is Good News. Make it Good News.
6. Have a relationship with Jesus, yourself: You might forget what a teacher or friend said, but you don’t forget how they act. Actions leave impressions, and as John 13:35 says, “”By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Witnesses provoke Sp curiosity, openness, and dialog.
7. Know and share your story: Make Jesus alive and present today by sharing what He has done in your life. Be able to identify that “mountaintop” moment or time period where you experienced God in your life and something changed: Be able to answer “what were you like before this time/event?” “what was this time/event?” and “what were you like after this time/event?”
8. Read Forming Intentional Disciples. READ IT! And then make every Catholic you know read it! Seriously. Why aren’t you reading it, right now? Go!