Written by Sherry
Friday, 22 June 2007 07:45
Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur has an interesting essay over at Catholic Exchange called Evangelization 101.
The two women were distant acquaintances brought together by the one empty table in the small eatery. Over this chance meeting, they quickly got re-acquainted, and began discussing life. By the end of the ten-minute conversation, one left with the other's phone number and an agreement to take her to her Evangelical church the following Sunday.
Sitting at the next table, I couldn't help but be amazed at this interchange. I had just witnessed evangelization in action. One woman was looking for something in her life and the other had the answer. She spoke in glowing terms about her faith community and how welcoming they were. She told of Bible studies and women's groups and shared breakfasts. I admired her enthusiasm and her commitment to spreading her faith.
Would I have done the same? Sadly, I would have to say "No."
Since I just finished up the segment on what we are calling "Evangelical Conversation" for Making Disciples last night, this whole topic is much on my mind.
The goal is not to turn Catholics into stereotypical agressive evangelists who can't carry on a normal conversation on a bus without whipping out a tract and unnerving their seatmate. But we must find natural, respectful ways to facilitate and invite conversations about life's most crucial question: relationship with God.
Most people aren't original. Most of us can't even think about things that we haven't heard someone else talk about! We derive most of our understanding of life and our mental categories for interpreting our experience from others around us.
The direct work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds (which is going on all the time)must be met by a human assent of some kind. But most of us aren't spiritual geniuses and cradle saints who can recognize what is happening and fully assent to grace without any preparation or support from other human beings.
We have tried substituting the institutionalized witness of parish structures, religious ed classes, and "the professionals" for the personal witness of Christians we know well and love. But for most people, it doesn't work. And we know it doesn't work.
But still we can't bring ourselves to break the Catholic code of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".
Cause we still think that it is about us and our comfort zone and embarrassment. But it isn't.
It is about God's love for this person here with me now.