7 Suggestions on the New Evangelization
1 – Lead With the Beautiful.
Less threatening. We are a beautiful religion. Truth/Goodness make people defensive. You can come to learn to love from beauty. To the goodness of the faith, then to the truth. Look at what Pope Francis is doing by leading with the beauty of a holy life, then lead them to the good and the truth.
2 – Don’t Dumb Down the Message!
Doesn’t help when we keep the faith the one thing that is dumbed down in our society. Evangelize by being clear, articulate, and smart – with the full arsenal of our tradition. A dumbed-down Catholicism will not serve.
3 – We Have to Preach With Ardor!
We need some fire! People only listen to a really excited speaker. Muster up some excitement for the Gospel! “I don’t think the purpose of Vatican II was to modernize the Church. The purpose of Vatican II was to Christify the world. Was to send us out as light-bearers to the end of the world.” The risen Jesus is the Good News! People don’t die for myths, legends, and literary devices – they do it for a resurrected Jesus! We need to be clear about that.
4 – To Be a Good Evangelist – You Have To Tell The Great Story!
There is a temptation to present a “pure Christianity” without the Old Testament story. This means the story is an abstract version, who is more of a “Gnostic guru”. There is something haywire in presenting Jesus without the Old Testament. He is an Israel. If we forget Israel, we forget who we are. The fulfillment of the story of salvation needs to have the story told from the beginning. Jesus can’t be understood without placing him within the history of Israel and the Messiah that all of Israel has always waited for. He is the new Adam, Moses, Abraham, David, etc. The New Eden is now established in the person of Jesus. If you de-Judaize Jesus, He becomes just another spiritual teacher. Evangelization is a subversive message there is a new King in town!
5 – God does not need us – and He loves us anyway.
Irenaeus understanding of God is perfect - What a great story! "There is no greater humanism possible than orthodox Christianity." His love is perfectly selfless. He is not a rival to us or wanting to get something out of us. He wants us to be “fully alive”. The bush that is on fire, but not consumed, is an image of God coming into man. He never destroys us when He comes into us. He enhances us. Jesus is the burning bush.
6 – We are Made For God.
We are wired to want a relationship with God. Everybody has a hungry heart (to quote Bruce Springsteen). We are all looking for God. We don’t just want truths or goods – we want truth and goodness itself. To evangelize is to tap into that desire. We all sometimes run after false gods, but The Church needs to be the new Elijah who publically and vigorously challenges the priests of the false gods (wealth, pleasure, honor, power). Only in giving yourself away in love is meaning found. The Church is meant to be a light to the world, so we can’t keep it to ourselves.
7 – Use the New Media
Become very adept at old media of books first. Immerse ourselves and others in the tradition of the Church. But, yes, yes, yes to the new media. We would be horribly derelict if we don’t use the tools we have before us. We can’t allow others to control the world of new media. The majority of those that become atheists are doing so through new media, stats show.
We need to declare the Lordship of Jesus Christ always – with new expression, method, and ardor.
BONUS VIDEO - What helps Protestants become Catholic.