This week I wish to begin the discussion on the “how to” of evangelism, that is, sharing the Faith, or as I have said, gospeling others.
At the outset I wish to emphasize the avoidance of a formulaic way of going about the business. Perhaps this aversion is in part because my disdain of canned approaches. But hopefully it has more to do with the creative, individual, and natural ways being more compelling. That having been said, I have no doubt that God has worked through such things as “The Four Spiritual Laws”, “The Roman Road”, or “The Kennedy Plan”. Don’t worry if you are unfamiliar with those names, the point is they are formulaic and memorized ways of going about the endeavor. Even so, I like the saying , “I like his way of going about evangelism poorly, better than your way of not doing it at all.”
We tend to think of conversation as being necessary in the work of evangelism. And ultimately, indeed some words are needed. But the needed words tend to be more effective if they stem from our actions, especially our acts of compassion and mercy. And yet, people don’t learn of the Gospel, namely, the love of God shown us in the death and resurrection of God’s Son for forgiveness and rescue from sin, death, and the devil, by our actions alone. To learn of this requires words!
The easiest and most natural sharing of the faith comes when people have observed our lives and they ask us what motivates our lives, especially the hopefulness they see in us as we go about loving God and loving our neighbor. It is best when they are already inquisitive and ask such a question. But of course, that begs the question. Do they in fact see anything different in us?
This brings us back full circle to our constantly being formed in the Faith and exercising the same 24/7, and our being full of hope and deep seated joy.
Since You Asked…
What is the significance of sharing the peace?
“The peace which enables people to live in unity and in the spirit of mutual forgiveness comes only from Christ whose word has been proclaimed. … The peace is a sign that those who participate in it open themselves to the healing and reconciling power of God’s love and offer themselves to be agents of that love in the world. … The personal exchange of the peace should be as unpatterned as possible, but its meaning and significance should be kept clear. It is not the occasion merely for conviviality. The choice of gesture, whether a handshake, holding hands, or an embrace, should be left to the persons themselves.” (from “Manual on the Liturgy” companion to the LBW, from Augsburg Pub.)