This single word encapsulates the mission of the Church. Beginning in conversion, this action is carried about by the way we live out our lives in the world (witness) and how we explicitly share our faith with others (sharing). Evangelization is initially directed at the Church itself, and then at both those who have never heard the Gospel and those Christians no longer active in the Church.
Beginning in a process of conversion, the core of being a Christian is living a life of discipleship -- of following Jesus in everything we do -- so that we can help change the world into the Kingdom Jesus told us about. This lifestyle of witness attracts others to our faith, and gives us opportunities to explicitly share our faith.
3. Sharing Our Faith
In addition to witnessing by the way we live our daily lives, we must explicitly share our faith and invite others to "come and see" Christ for themselves.
We know that the word "evangelization" sometimes raises uncomfortable images for Catholics—especially in the culture of the United States, where evangelism has sometimes meant only an individual response to enthusiastic preaching, a style of mass religion, a contrived way to recruit new members, or, at its worst, a way to play on people's needs. Still, we use the word "evangelization" because its root meaning is "Gospel" (Good News) and because it calls us, even if it is uncomfortable, to live the faith of our baptism more openly and to share it more freely.
Go And Make Disciples: A National Plan and Strategy for Catholic Evangelization in the United States, 24
...Catholicism has to be proposed, and Catholicism has to be lived in radical fidelity to Christ and the Gospel. Recreational Catholicism—Catholicism as a traditional, leisure-time activity absorbing perhaps ninety minutes of one’s time on a weekend—is over. Full-time Catholicism—a Catholicism that, as the Second Vatican Council taught, infuses all of life and calls everyone in the Church to holiness and mission—is the only possible Catholicism in the twenty-first century.
George Wiegl, "The Rise of Evangelical Catholicism"
...there are familiar ways by which evangelization happens: by the way we live God's love in our daily life; by the love, example, and support people give each other; by the ways parents pass faith on to their children; in our life as Church, through the proclamation of the Word and the wholehearted celebration of the saving deeds of Jesus; in renewal efforts of local and national scope; in the care we show to those most in need; and in the ways we go about our work, share with our neighbors, and treat the stranger. In daily life, family members evangelize each other; men and women, their future spouses; and workers, their fellow employees, by the simple lives of faith they lead. Through the ordinary patterns of our Catholic life, the Holy Spirit brings about conversion and a new life in Christ.
Go And Make Disciples: A National Plan and Strategy for Catholic Evangelization in the United States, 35-36
Evangelical Catholics enter mission territory every day, leading lives of integrity and charity that invite from others the question, “How can you live this way?” That question, in turn, allows the evangelical Catholic to fulfill the Great Commission by offering others the Gospel and the possibility of friendship with Jesus Christ. Having responded to the Risen Lord’s call to meet him in Galilee, evangelical Catholics go into the world in witness to the Christ who reveals both the face of the Merciful Father and the truth about our humanity. Strong truths generously lived: that’s Evangelical Catholicism.
George Wiegl, "The Rise of Evangelical Catholicism"
U.S. Bishops Statements
Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus
Sherry A. Weddell
How can we transmit a living, personal Catholic faith to future generations? By coming to know Jesus Christ, and following him as his disciples.
These are times of immense challenge and immense opportunity for the Catholic Church.
Consider these statistics for the United States.
Drawing upon her fifteen years of experience with the Catherine of Siena Institute, Sherry Weddell leads readers through steps that will help Catholics enter more deeply into a relationship with God and the river of apostolic creativity, charisms, and vocation that flow from that relationship for the sake of the Church and the world.
Learn about the five thresholds of postmodern conversion, how to open a conversation about faith and belief, how to ask thought-provoking questions and establish an atmosphere of trust, when to tell the Great Story of Jesus, how to help someone respond to God's call to intentional discipleship, and much more.
And be prepared for conversion because when life at the parish level changes, the life of the whole Church will change. (Amazon)
- Go And Make Disciples: Why Aren't We There Yet? (Therese and John Boucher, Diocese of Trenton)
- Results of Diocesan Go And Make Disciples Survey (USCCB)
- Characteristics of an Evangelizing Parish (ParishVision)
- Pope Benedict XVI On Evangelization (ChristLife)
- Mass Evangelization: Sharing Faith With the Eucharist (America Magazine)
Organizations & Websites
- Catholics Come Home (Archdiocese Boston)