The Three Goals of Evangelization
The US Catholic Conference of Bishops identifies three Goals for Evangelization. These should only be considered in conjunction with the Theology of Evangelization and the Process of Evangelization. These goals are for all Catholics to:
- Live their faith and freely share their faith with others.
- Invite all people to hear the message of Jesus Christ as expressed in the Catholic parish
- Foster Gospel values in our society so that our nation and the world will be transformed by the saving power of Jesus
The first goal is for Catholics to live their faith and freely share their faith with others. It is no secret that Catholics tend to keep their faith to themselves or only discuss it with other Catholics. We all know there is a shared culture of being Catholic and that this culture has many shared experiences. Part of the Catholic culture seems to be not wearing your faith very prominently. This subdued faith is not all bad. However when it translates to never mentioning your faith or not inviting others to Catholic events then this should change.
In the current culture more individuals change their denomination than ever before. In the US, 20-30% of the population report changing denominations. It occurs more often for those who attend church less frequently. We know that the majority of registered parishioners do not attend worship every Sunday. There are different levels of engagement at IHM. The way to Christ is through the parish, the Body of Christ, where He lives. Evangelization may have different meanings depending on where you are in your faith journey:
- For those living their faith – it means continued conversion.
- For those only weakly involved – it is a challenge to become fully involved.
- For children and youth – it is a call to be fully formed in faith by family, friends and school.
- For those with no faith – it is a welcoming church to allow them to know Jesus. (USCCB GMD paragraph 27)
All require sharing within a parish community. No person is left out of the need to share in a community for evangelization to occur. Effective evangelizing, the mission of the church, is a community effort in a parish setting. (USCCB GMD paragraph 87)
The second USCCB goal is to invite all people to hear the message of Jesus Christ as expressed in the Catholic parish. Catholics share and welcome all who have no church community and have given up active participation in a Catholic parish. People will only come if invited and welcomed. Witnessing faith precedes the invitation to ministries, programs, and social events. All parish events are possibilities. It could be an invitation to a support group, a Fathers’ group, senior social events, concerts and other community events.
Those who are not churched will have the opportunity to experience the love and acceptance of the parish community. Parish activities are open to the community but that does not mean that they are void of prayer or a Catholic identity. The Catholic identity should be an attracting presence at the event.
If you find a something new that is just amazing and changed your life, would you share it with others? Is our life in the parish central to us and without it would our lives would be different or shallow. Maybe we just don’t know what living a life without prayer and sacraments would be like so we take all that we have for granted. Do we treat our Catholic faith as an inheritance and don’t share it with others? The ideal is living faith, sharing faith and welcoming others.
The third USCCB goal is to foster Gospel values in our society so that our nation and the world will be transformed by the saving power of Jesus. When we are alive in our faith, we change the world through prayer, service and action in parish ministries and outside activities that promote Gospel values. The third goal is practicing our faith and the Gospel values that we believe, we transform our community, the nation and the world. Evangelization includes raising the awareness of Catholics to the needs of the poor and marginalized. It means using the gifts the Lord has provided wisely and preserving resources for our children and grandchildren. (USCCB GMD paragraphs 117-121)
The third goal completes the first two. If we live our faith then we attract others to work with us. Loving each other, serving the poor and living justly are essential parts of the parish community that we celebrate in the Eucharist. Evangelizing is a natural part of a parish celebration.