The word “Evangelisation” is a word often used reluctantly
in Catholic circles as it conjures up visions of American televangelists,
some of whom have had spectacular falls from grace, or of people going
door knocking promoting their particular brand of religion.
Pope John Paul 11 saw the word in all its richness,” …to bring Good News” He called for Catholics to embrace a new Evangelisation for our times and prayed that a new springtime would come to the church as a result. In “Ecclesia in Oceania’” the pope urged the Catholic Church in Oceania to make Evangelisation its number one priority.
Evangelisation is not just a process of continuing education but a process of re-education. A process intended to invite us away from the old “business as usual” religion and into a vital, evangelizing life of faith. A process of conversion that comes from the heart. Evangelisation is any activity that brings the values of the Gospel into all aspects of human society. It’s to share the good news about Jesus with other people. We evangelise when we witness to people by serving their practical needs, by sharing our own experience of Jesus, by opening ourselves up to the ongoing conversion so that God becomes the centre of our lives, and by helping to build up a life-giving Christian community.
So how do we as local leaders in the church of Australia go about the work of Evangelisation?
Here are some simple steps that will help you and your parish council to embrace Evangelisation.
10 Simple Actions Of Evangelisation
The following actions are both communal and personal and to some extent cross over each other. The strength of the list lies not in ticking them off as some form of evangelistic check list, but in raising your consciousness both collectively and personally to the power of the Gospel.
- Smile and laugh often – People are naturally
attracted to happy people, who, despite encountering the problems
of life, are not overcome by them. They live by faith.
- Develop a contagious sense of welcome - Many
people leave the church saying they did not feel welcomed or people
ignored them. Being intentional about welcoming will develop an atmosphere
where people want to be. An atmosphere of welcome is contagious.
- Be gracious and courteous - When we become
defensive, argumentative or legalistic, this often interpreted as
arrogance or coldness by those looking for a spiritual home. Be gracious
and focus on listening for understanding. This one activity is charged
- Share your story - As a leadership group,
how much do you know about your fellow leaders Christian journey.
There is much power and understanding in sharing these journeys. It
reminds us that God works differently in different people for the
good of the whole.
- Read and reflect on scripture regularly -
St Jerome said that “Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of
Christ”. Use the daily readings of the church to start all your
meetings. Share your reflections. It is not about being right but
about what is being revealed. Good quality scripture study is also
helpful and avoids falling into the trap of literalism.
- Be with the poor and marginalized - If we
are going to understand the power of the Gospel, we need to have a
“bottom up” view. Take every opportunity to work with
the poor and marginalized in your area. This activity more than anything
else will tell your parish and the wider community that the gospel
is taking root in your heart. You will also hear the gospel with greater
- Be a light, not a critic - Much of western
Christianity has been lived in our heads with a great addiction to
point out who is right and who is wrong, who is in and who is out.
While this may build our Christian ego, it does not lead us or others
to Christ. The Gospels are full of examples of Christ meeting people
where they are at, blessing them, and encouraging their faith. Let
all your interactions be blessing to others.
- Be committed to growth in faith - create as
many opportunities as is possible for people to learn and grow in
their faith. Ensure that adult faith education engages the heart as
well as the head.
- Adopt a third world parish - This is a practical
way to help you and your parishioners to beyond themselves and out
into the world. To actively engage with another culture that does
not enjoy our lifestyle but shares the same Gospel is both humbling
and empowering. This one initiative has the power to galvanize your
parish into action.
- Foster a vibrant healing and consolation ministry - Much of Christ’s ministry was being with people in their pain and suffering. We are called to be Christ to the people in our parish who are in pain and suffering. To be with someone at these times is a most powerful witness about what you value as a community and leaves an indelible mark on the hearts of others.
Evangelisation is not so much about some big program or event but a way of life.
- The process is more, Ready, Fire, Aim!! There is no perfect way, or “the way” to evangelise but according to the gospel, doing nothing is not an option.
- Start in simple ways and let the Holy Spirit lead you and strengthen your confidence. Be prepared to be surprised by how God will use you. You will experience an increase in joy that will enter your life and the life of your parish
- St Francis of Assisi taught his brothers, “Proclaim the Gospel at all times, and when absolutely necessary, use words”.