What do you need to do to become a great Catholic evangelizer?
5 Things Great Catholic Evangelizers Do
- Love People (and Like Them)
Effective evangelizers don’t make people feel like projects. They don’t offer unsolicited advice or think they have answers to every question. They seek to love people well—to give off the fragrance of Christ, which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). When they don’t do this well, they seek forgiveness quickly and learn from their failures.
Because of these efforts at loving others well, great evangelizers also find themselves liking more people than they might have otherwise thought. Just as Jesus seemed to like people who weren’t on the same page as him (like Zacchaeus, Nicodemus, the rich young man, and the woman caught in adultery), so too do great evangelizers have a knack for enjoying and appreciating others with differing worldviews and lifestyles.
- Have a Life Outside of Church
Great Catholic evangelizers don’t live in a Catholic bubble. They don’t spend all their free time volunteering at church or only show interest in religious music, books, and art. They don’t just read Catholic websites or post online about doctrine or apologetics.
The most effective Catholic evangelizers are interesting to people outside of the Church because they have secular interests and hobbies. They love their neighbors as best they can, whether those neighbors are religious or not. They establish common ground and form new friendships through non-churchy endeavors.
By their baptism, laypeople are made to be leaven in the world for Jesus. Leaven can’t cause the dough to rise if it’s trapped in a separate bottle and not worked into the dough. So a lay Catholic evangelizer is meant to be in the world—loving it and lifting it up from within.
- Avoid Ideological Camps
In 1 Corinthians 9, St. Paul writes that to the Jews he became a Jew, and to those having no law he became as one having no law. To the weak, he says he became weak so that he might win as many as possible to the gospel of Jesus.
Great Catholic evangelizers do not get caught up in worldly ideologies and ego-driven arguments that limit the number of people they can influence. In today’s language, St. Paul might easily have said: to the liberals I became liberal and to the conservatives I became conservative, so that I could form friendships with everyone and win as many as possible to the gospel of Jesus.
St. Paul’s teaching is scandalous to many people because our society is so polarized and territorial. But as Christians, we are called to be so passionate about the gospel and the joy of Jesus’ life that all ideological divisions that don’t directly tear down our faith are insignificant compared to the opportunity to help people experience the life of Jesus in the Church.
- Persevere in Prayer
In John 15:5, Jesus taught that whoever remains connected to him, as a branch is connected to a vine, will bear much fruit. When we pray, we connect ourselves to Jesus’ life. His life is full of joy, love, peace, compassion, and depth. His life overflows in us and opens the way to greater depth in friendships and conversations about life’s meaning. When we remain connected to Jesus in prayer, he makes us fruitful in evangelization.
When we don’t remain connected to Jesus in prayer and we try to evangelize others, we stumble–badly. We treat people as our projects. We fail to listen closely or to be empathetic because we are living under compulsion to say what we want to share. We feel more argumentative and protective of our opinions and blame other people for their ignorance, stubbornness, and sinfulness.
Jesus helps us to evangelize at his pace, in his strength, and with his joy.
- Meditate on Scripture
In John 10:3, Jesus says that his sheep hear his voice. He calls them by name, and he leads them out of the sheep pen. Several times in John 10, Jesus promises that his sheep will know his voice. It is crucial, when we evangelize, to know the voice of Jesus. The Holy Spirit will lead us in evangelization. Jesus will speak through us. He knows what needs to be said and when to say it.
Scripture is God’s word (Hebrews 4:12, 2 Timothy 3:16). If we want to become better at recognizing the voice of Jesus, studying Scripture will help us to gain a clearer sense of what His word sounds and feels like. Scripture shows us the kinds of things He says. Just like over years of marriage we learn the sound and nature of our spouse’s voice, by studying Scripture, we become intimately familiar with the sound and nature of Jesus’ voice.
Find out more by visiting The Evangelical Catholic, a non-profit organization dedicated to transforming laypeople into zealous leaders who are excited and equipped to go out and evangelize their communities. https://www.evangelicalcatholic.org/