Recently, a lay minister reflected upon an experience she underwent at her parish. They had assembled an Evangelization ministry to begin offering Bible and Faith Formation classes to adults. One Sunday, she was requested by the celebrant to briefly speak about this formational opportunity to the parishioners before the final blessing and inquire who would be interested. When she asked the congregation of about 150 people, less than five individuals raised their hand expressing a desire to participate. She was certainly disappointed.
The lack of interest some Catholics have in deepening their understanding and appreciation of the Catholic Faith is a cause for concern. If Catholics do not know why the Church teaches what it teaches, then it becomes increasingly difficult to comprehend, explain, and defend the Faith. Consequently, it increases the likelihood that they will gradually become less dedicated to the Catholic Church and her teachings.
As pastoral ministers, we ought to examine why this has been occurring in our parishes, determine what should be done about it, and respond prudently to this crucial issue. We must begin by looking at what the history of our parish is when it comes to evangelization. How have we attempted to motivate our parishioners in the past and how can we effectively encourage them today? How have we endeavored to engage them in the parish’s various catechetical and faith forming programs and services? How do the faithful presently understand and celebrate the sacraments? What instructions and teachings have they heard and received on Catholicism? How have we used the opportunities that have arisen to form our parishioners in the Catholic Faith? These are some of the questions that an Evangelization ministry may need to discuss not only to better examine the cause of the disinterest or lack of enthusiasm some of our churchgoers have in faith formation but to also formulate the necessary pastoral approach to Evangelization that their particular parish needs.
Do you want to proclaim the Good News convincingly and to transform lives for Christ?
Then, the following six things are essential for an effective Evangelization program and ministry:
1) Prayer –
This is crucial for an Evangelization ministry. Prayer is an intimate and personal dialogue with the Lord. It is the moment of encounter in which the minister communicates with God about the evangelical task. During this holy exchange, the evangelizer (during private prayer) and the Evangelization ministry (during communal prayer) receive the light, grace, and strength to be able to evangelize effectively.
2) Sacrifice –
In order for an Evangelization ministry to be spiritually productive in its calling and work, they must possess a sacrificial spirit. Evangelizers ought to make acts of sacrifice and prayerfully offer them to the Lord for the spiritual benefit of those whom they will minister to. Sacrifices empower ministers so that they can labor and do everything that is necessary for the Kingdom of God.
3) Promotion –
The team should spend at least several weeks sharing the good news about the programs and services that will be provided to form the Faith by promoting it using all the means available. They can post fliers around the parish and in the community’s buildings, make announcements before the final blessing, insert information in parish bulletins, and particularly by word of mouth. These efforts can help build momentum and gradual interest. Moreover, evangelizing ministers ought to utilize all forms of online communications channels to promote the various catechetical and faith formation programs to as countless email and social media users as possible.
4) Giving witness –
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of giving witness. Due to the fact that this is an essential component of effective evangelizing, we must testify the greatness of the Lord with joy, love, and gratitude. How has our splendid God positively transformed our lives and how has our manner of living changed as a result of encountering, loving, following, and serving the Risen Christ? In other words, must generously share how faith formation has personally helped us to know, value, and appreciate better our Catholic Faith.
5) Personal Invitations –
Not only should we promote through the various means of online communications, but we must also make one-to-one contact with current and prospective churchgoers. Tell them something along the lines of “Hey, have you heard all the details about the adult faith formation program we are beginning soon? I am truly excited about it because it is a response to something that numerous Catholics want. This program is going to help us grow in our faith and understanding and also as a community. I wanted to personally invite you to be a part of this experience which will be a wonderful opportunity to know Christ and the Catholic Faith better. I think this will empower us all to live better our Catholicism.”
6) Well-formed leaders –
All members of an Evangelization ministry should ideally be theologically and intellectually formed in the Faith. However, this is not always the case. Therefore, it is indispensable that these members seek a more solid, overall formation in the Faith and in Sacred Scripture studies and be sufficiently formed. Furthermore, they should be persons of charity to love God and their neighbors; persons of devotion that care deeply for the salvation of souls, and persons of humility to comprehend that all is for Christ’s glory and the advancement of the Kingdom of God.