After His Resurrection, Jesus gave his Apostles a solemn command: “Go … and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20, RSVCE). Evangelization is fulfilling this command; it is the process by which disciples of Jesus Christ make new disciples of Jesus Christ.
Here are 7 important facts about evangelization:
1.) Evangelization is Apostolic. It must be done in union with the Apostles, to whom the risen Christ directly gave the command to evangelize. This means that evangelization must be true to the faith of the Apostles, and done in union with their successors, the bishops of the Catholic Church. We do not preach a Christ we’ve invented, but the one preached on the authority of eyewitnesses.
2.) Evangelization is for all the faithful. It is not just for priests and religious. If you are committed to living in the light of Christ’s teaching, and to drawing near to Him through (daily) prayer, you are already called to evangelize in some shape or form. Do not be afraid! The Spirit of God will equip you for the task!
3.) Evangelization is directed towards everyone. Strictly speaking, evangelization is sharing the Gospel with those who have never heard it – making disciples of those who are not. But in our time, there are large groups of people who may be baptized, and in some sense culturally Catholic, but do not practice the faith or have a living relationship with Jesus. Because this situation requires of us new methods and renewed ardor, Pope John Paul II called us to a “new evangelization.” A third kind of activity is not technically evangelization, but closely related to it: our efforts to bring our fellow Christians who are not Catholic into full communion with the one Church that Christ founded. In all cases, the goal is to bring people into greater unity with God.
4.) Evangelization is Christ-centered. Jesus Christ is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” We preach the Crucified and Risen Christ. We do not preach a moral code, a spiritual method, or a religious doctrine, except insofar as they come from Him. We do not preach the Sacraments, the Saints, or the Church, except insofar as they reflect or communicate Him. We certainly do not preach ourselves; for we are merely clay pots. The pot doesn’t matter – only the precious treasure that is inside.
5.) Evangelization is Spirit-filled. It is built on prayer, which allows the Spirit of God to move more freely within us. It makes use of the charismatic gifts we’ve been given in Baptism and Confirmation. Perhaps you have a special gift for service, encouragement, exhortation, wisdom, knowledge, or prayer? Seek to discover your spiritual gifts. In your efforts to evangelize, focus on doing what you do best.
6.) Evangelization comes from the mind and heart. Many times the most effective evangelization happens when you share how Christ and his Church have changed your life personally, and when your love for Him is evident: “Heart speaks to heart.” Many other times, reasoned explanation and defense of the faith is called for. The study of such explanation and defense is called “Christian apologetics.”
7.) Evangelization is loving. Don’t forget this! All of our evangelizing efforts ought to be infused with the Gift of Divine Charity: “Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. … Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:4-5,7). Pray for charity. Act from it.
If you do street evangelization, let all seven of these facts inform your efforts. And remember, experience is the best teacher! If you don’t know an answer to a question, don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know the answer to that but I will find out and get back to you!” Study the faith, and apologetics. Deepen your prayer life. Take St. Paul as your patron. Check out Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical, Evangelii Nuntiandi, and Pope John Paul II’s Encyclical Redemptoris Missio. To learn more about our approach, follow this link.
Resources on Evangelization and Apologetics:
The stated mission of the Bible Christian Society (BCS) is to convert at least 50% of the Greater Birmingham area to Catholicism by the year 2038, but the ripple effect reaches way beyond Birmingham. The website’s purpose is to facilitate the distribution of the BCS evangelization/apologetics materials and ideas.
Catholic Answers is the largest Catholic apologetics and evangelization organization in North America. We are lay people devoting our full-time efforts to promoting the Catholic faith through books, booklets, tracts, This Rock magazine, tapes, and television and radio appearances. Our staff apologists answers questions about the faith and give parish seminars. Our catalog is one of the most comprehensive in the country.
Resources for all Christians who are inquiring into the Catholic Church including contacts and fellowship, guidance and support for pastors and clergy, and clear teaching of the Catholic Faith.
Renewal Ministries seeks to proclaim Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit so that we may serve the renewal of the Catholic Church and help as many as possible come to know Christ.