Evangelizing and Witnessing


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Part of what it means to evangelize is to be a living witness to the faith. Pope Paul and other pontiffs after him reiterated that if the words with which we proclaim the faith are not backed up by a life that testifies to the truth of those words, the message proclaimed will lose its power.

There are consequences for individual Catholics: And there are consequences for the Church as a whole: We need to be part of the family of God. People need to hear that. The Church, Catholics, non-Catholics and the culture need Catholics to evangelize. How can Catholics break a habit nearly two centuries old of keeping the faith to themselves?

What Catholics have to understand, however, is that sharing the faith can really be an act of humility. Catholics also need to take advantage of all the resources available today to improve their understanding of Church teaching. Becoming a better evangelist also requires getting your prayer life in order. Some parishes did that by making a concerted effort to invite people to RCIA or other parish events. A few parishes even formed teams that went door to door in different neighborhoods.

They would introduce themselves, say which parish they were from, and ask people if they had questions about the faith. The response, said Jeffrey, was overwhelmingly positive. The program will celebrate its tenth anniversary this summer. Father Wehner sees the same growing enthusiasm for evangelization among his seminarians and younger members of the clergy. Those seminarians and priests are discovering what Jeffrey discovered going door to door in North Dakota: People want what Catholics have to share.

He asked her for a drink of water, then he talked with her about her life. Evangelization is about getting to know people, talking, entering into a dialogue. Then you build on that. Do talk about your own experiences.

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Whatever your experience is, use it as a springboard for conversation. Do invite people to events at your parish such as RCIA, Bible studies and faith-formation classes, as well as social events.

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I keep waiting and waiting for someone to invite themselves. Well, the same goes for something like RCIA. Do study your faith. Joseph Communications, plus all the Catholic media outlets — print, radio, TV, online. Take advantage of what they offer so that you can become more confident talking about the faith. To know and love Jesus, and to know and love modern man. Do back up your words with actions. He made three great missionary journeys: In the first, he visited the island of Cyprus, several cities in Asia Minor, then Jerusalem.

In his second journey, Paul returned to the sites in Asia Minor to check up on the new Christian communities he had established. Notice how the Holy Spirit is used. I do not read where the Holy Spirit is giving any facts. How is the Holy Spirit a "witness? This is why Peter and the disciples were arrested.

Evangelism

How is the Holy Spirit a witness? The Holy Spirit is corroborating the factual testimony and the legal argument of the disciples by performing miracles through them. Let's see how the disciples put all of these elements together. What is going on here? The disciples are reciting the facts that they know. This is the legal argument side of it. This is the Holy Spirit's affirmation of the truth of the facts and the accuracy of the legal argument.

Hearsay is a statement of facts not witnessed by the person testifying in court. What is wrong with hearsay? You cannot test it to be sure it is true. If I testify that I saw someone strike another person, I can be cross-examined about my ability to see the event and asked about my prejudices and biases. If I testify that my brother told me that he saw someone strike another person, my testimony cannot be tested to see if it is accurate.

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Are Christians today stuck with a hearsay gospel? It certainly is hearsay for us to say that Jesus lived, died and was raised from the dead. The disciples were witnesses of that, but we are not. So, is the witnessing part of the job unavailable to us? We can tell what Jesus has done for us. Remember that I said that every brief requires a statement of the facts before the legal argument. I also said that poor lawyers get the two mixed up. Should all of our gospel work start with a witness before we get into persuading? Or, has time eliminated the importance of the facts because our facts are nothing as exciting as Jesus being raised from the dead?

One day I was visiting a church, and a very large man stood up to give a praise about his witnessing that week. His story was this: He told the officer that eating ham would cause her to go to hell. The man, who was about pounds overweight, was thankful that God gave him the opportunity to witness to this officer.

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Let's break this down by the elements of what we have learned. Did the church member witness to any facts? He had a health message, but his non-verbal "facts" showed he had a mixed message at best. What was the man's legal persuasion message? That the Leviticus 11 command against eating unclean meat was a salvation message.

What is the difference between evangelism and witnessing?

Whether or not this man was right on his underlying theological assumption, this does not seem to have anything to do with the gospel message of Jesus' life, death and resurrection. What was the witness of the Holy Spirit? This suggests that the ham man needed to do a little bit more work on the legal persuasion side of his evangelism.

More importantly, what does it teach us about witnessing? The important thing is what we say. What does this suggest about witnessing? That every word we say is significant. Is that how you look at evangelism - as a moment by moment, word by word process? Consider our large ham man again. What do you think was his hope? That the correctional officer would repent of eating ham, and be converted to membership in the ham man's church. It did not happen. But, the ham man thought he should mention it during the "praise" period so someone would consider him worthy of praise for at least trying.

No doubt this was the only witnessing event the ham man could recall during that week. To what does Jesus compare sharing the gospel?

Five Essentials of Evangelism, Part 1

Like words being tossed out along the path of life. There is a popular book I've read whose title is "Nudge. At the same time, there is a less popular religious book I am reading also entitled "Nudge. The two books have a common theme: How would you relate the "nudge" idea to the three Bible texts that we have just read: We either nudge people towards the gospel or away from the gospel.