The ‘New Evangelization’ of our times isn’t terribly ‘new.’ It still looks a whole lot like The Acts of the Apostles and Luke 10:1-23. In our attempt to build all of the programs, structures, “expressions, methods and ardor” (all these ‘new’ things), we cannot lose track of the true foundation of evangelization – it is all about relationships.
Evangelization has and forever will be about one person (as part of a body) passing on the good news, the power of the Holy Spirit and incorporation into that body to another person. It is one torch igniting another torch. All of the videos, books, talks, courses, etc. are all for naught if they don’t just simply act as ways for the disciples of Jesus to encounter the people of the fringes. In our attempts to evangelize, we cannot hide behind producing a bunch of glitzy stuff if we aren’t really getting in the relational trenches – where the real work happens.
Evangelization, like life, is really so darn straightforward – it all comes down to relationships.
In a lot of ways, we don’t need to hear another talk or read another book (or blog post) about the New Evangelization. We just need to start moving. Enough pontificating about how (always overemphasized in our technological society) to do it. Just do it. It’s not about techniques. Come to know the Lord Jesus and then share Him with others. As scary as it may be in the beginning, we need to pull the trigger, clench our courage, step out of the boat and just get going.
We need to trust that the Holy Spirit moves us and inspires us as we go. He doesn’t lay out the whole plan for us before we go. Don’t over complicate it! To evangelize, we just need to facilitate one-on-one encounters where the Lord can show up and surprise everybody.
At the risk of offering more techniques, here is a short outline that demonstrates how straightforward it is to live the New Evangelization. In a lot of ways, this is really all it takes:
- Ask the Holy Spirit “Who in my life do you want me to try and meet with?”
- Trust that He really did just hear that prayer
- Make a list
- Just pick up the phone
- Have coffee, lunch, go for a walk, etc. just (genuinely) try to get to know someone better.
- When the time is right ask them, “Where are you at in your spiritual journey?”
- Perhaps ask them, “Where is Jesus in all of this for you?” or “Who is Jesus to you?”
- See what happens
- Don’t give up
To be a missionary disciple means two very simple things: I have met Jesus (the King, my healer, the One who makes sense out of life, the One who has power over death) and I want everyone who I know to know Him as well. It is a mission of love seeking to win the world away from death. And this ‘winning’ happens in the context of relationships. We build a bridge of friendship and then Jesus walks over that bridge to come live in their heart too!
Every Catholic by now knows that we are supposed to evangelize, yet few do. That’s probably because we overcomplicate it (i.e. we think it’s about the right technique) and we approach it without the power of the Holy Spirit. Evangelizing is not something expensive and fancy – it’s about very human encounters between you and another, both of you trying to respond to the movement of Love.
So, go beg the Holy Spirit to move you into these encounters and then just go do it!