As Catholics, we seem to shy away from evangelizing. We tend not to use the word evangelize in our vocabulary. This is bewildering because evangelization is actually a beautiful part of our faith and our mission as followers of Jesus. Simply put, evangelization is sharing the Good News. We are called to share the Word with everyone we meet.
Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). This is a very clear statement and a considerable responsibility. When we reflect on the words of Jesus, he is asking us to bring the Good News—what we have learned about Jesus—and share it with others. We can invite friends, family, and neighbors—those who are Catholic and those who are not—to take small steps and join us on our faith journey in the hope that they will strengthen or begin their own relationships with Jesus.
We need to remember that we can only give what we receive. Through the sacrament of Baptism, we are called to Christian discipleship. Prayerfully attending Mass each week, listening to the Word, and receiving the Eucharist will prepare us to evangelize. Pope Francis said, “We evangelize not with grand words, or complicated concepts, but with the ‘Joy of the Gospel’ which fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus” (Holy Mass for the Evangelization of Peoples, 2015).
Hearing the Gospel message with our Church, together as a community of disciples, renews us in our faith and enables us to share the message of Jesus. The following are some ideas to consider for welcoming others to the Church. After trying some of these invitations yourself, talk with your students about your experience. Children can learn in profound and meaningful ways by your example. This may help them see how they can be disciples and evangelize, too.
- Encourage friends and family who have fallen away from the church to join you at Mass on a Holy Day, or for a Mass that has a special meaning for you.
- Invite neighbors and coworkers to join you for a service project, attend a sacred music concert, or listen to a speaker at your church.
- Find a way each week to tell one person something you are doing because you are Catholic, and how your faith shapes your life in a positive way.
- Think about how you actually live the Word of God each week. Consider keeping a Mass journal in which you reflect on Sunday’s Gospel, and write a few sentences about your genuine response to the Scripture. Using this reflection, find ways to show God’s Word to others during the week through your actions.
- Provide time for reflection and discussion on the Sunday Gospel for your students each week. This will help them come to know and better understand the meaning of the Good News, so they can share the message with others.
- Encourage your students to invite friends to Mass.
- Older students might consider inviting friends to youth group meetings.
- Children of all ages can invite friends to participate in service projects held at the church.
- Ask your students for ideas about how they can be good disciples and invite friends and neighbors to follow Jesus. Children have pure hearts, and their authentic responses often offer inspiration to other children and adults alike.
Remember that when our faith is alive within us we can be open to the Holy Spirit working through us. The Gospel message—when shared—flows from our hearts and will hopefully be heart-felt by those who hear our message: the message of Jesus, the Good News.
Aileen Scommegna holds a degree in Elementary Education from DePaul University. She has served as a teacher and DRE for the Archdiocese of Chicago for her entire career. She has written serval books on liturgical catechesis and faith for catechists, children, and parents.