Sunday, January 06, 2008

"How does one who is not a professional preacher preach Christ?"

That's a question that Jeff Tan asks on his blog. And it is a good one--one that became acute for me about six and a half years ago...

Jeff's best answer is that of St Josemaria Escriva--which accords very well with the Lutheran theology of vocation. As Jeff puts it, that is "In my ordinary work, lived extraordinarily with Christ at its centre."

There may be opportunities for verbal witness as well as active witness. Family, friends and work colleagues (probably in that order) are the best possibilities--at least statistically.

If you are married and have a family, then the question is a no-brainer. Evangelise your spouse and children. Of course, if they are Christian too, this becomes mutual evangelisation which is really neat and what makes a strong spiritual family.

If you are a member of a parish, evangelise other members of the parish. No, really. We often forget that the best place for witnessing to our faith may be our faith community. Christian communities need to be constantly evangelised (which is why Father preaches homily every week, although he may have forgotten that). What about talking about the homily over coffee after mass instead of sport/weather/the kids etc.? Small groups and fellowship groups and bible studies etc. are great places to offer one another mutual evangelisation. Or get involved in RCIA (they could do with the help!). Hospitality to other members of the parish or to new members or even potential enquirers is another way. Invite them over for a meal and encourage them in the faith. Become a mentor to the young people in the parish. Organise a youth group aimed at strengthening young people in their committment to the faith! The possibilities are endless.

And never discount the blog. Yeah, you might only get a few readers, and most of them might already be Christian (in which case what I said above may apply), but that's a few readers more than you would be witnessing to without the blog! Also it is a very unintrusive method of evangelisation. It is pure "proposition" rather than "imposition".

I'm not keen on door knocking or on pestering your workmates with "do you have a personal relationship with Jesus." But you might find a work mate who is a lapsed Christian who might be open to some encouragement or might (if he/she knows you are Christian) come to you for advice. This happened to me when I was working as a school librarian. Teachers, and even the the headmaster (who was a lapsed Catholic), would drop into the Library every now and again with a personal question relating to religion or faith. You have to be ready for these opportunities.

As for doorknocking, well, this does work if there is a good purpose in it. Eg. If you are door knocking to let people know when service times are for Christmas in the local parish, or when trying to make contact with Catholics in the area who may not have made contact with the parish. But it has to be done as an official program of the parish, be supported by the priest, come with training, and is best done by someone who holds an office in the parish.

Just some ways. But St Escriva is right, your ordinary work done extraordinarily with Christ at the centre is always the base line for "non-professional" preachers!

3 Comments:

At Tuesday, January 08, 2008 1:08:00 pm , Blogger Jeff Tan said...

Thanks for following up on that blog, and the subsequent posts you had about liturgy and evangelization bear much thinking. Whether or not I have a role to play, it is clear that Monash University Caulfield is in desperate need of Catholic evangelization. By that I mean evangelizing to the mostly invisible Catholics and evangelizing those who may be interested or have questions about the Catholic faith. We only have one Mass every week, to which only three men attend regularly (me, John and Alex; sometimes Terry). We are all staff members, not students. Where are the students??

And why don't we have academic discussions on campus about the Catholic faith? I feel awful when I consider that perhaps I am the cog that is holding things up.

There is great opportunity for evangelization here, but we need more workers. Or.. perhaps, send in a replacement? :-(

 
At Wednesday, January 09, 2008 3:19:00 pm , Blogger Jeff Tan said...

What a strange counterpoint that Christianity Today is making with these two pieces:

"In his recent book, The Dangerous Act of Worship, Mark Labberton asks
whether our worship has become too small
—whether it has become disconnected from God's great passion for justice and righteousness."

"Roman Catholic missionaries should aim to convert people and not restrict themselves to humanitarian good works, the Vatican said on December 14."

I don't think that was how Papa Benedict said it, of course, but this is interesting.

 
At Wednesday, January 09, 2008 3:30:00 pm , Blogger Jeff Tan said...

CT might have been referring to this December document from the CDF, clarifying aspects of Evangelization.

 

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