I’ve started my mornings lately with a cup of coffee and my bible. Working through the gospels.
The verse that hit me the other day is this one:
“Then He said to His disciples, the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”
And I knew what it meant for me:
Evangelization. Kate, it is your job to evangelize.
Some people really have a gift. My father is one of them. He can go up to anyone at any time and find a way to reach them. His conversations come so easily that it can take the better part of thirty minutes to get him out of church after the mass ends on Sunday. He is an extrovert, and I love it dearly about him.
That gift, it seems, is not genetic.
I am an introvert.
Initiating conversations is hard for me under the simplest of circumstances. (I rehearse phone calls. I’m not kidding.) I don’t do small talk well, and walking into a conversation without knowing ahead of time what I’m going to say causes me my fair share of anxiety.
Unless it is someone I know well, I can usually only exchange two or three pleasant comments before the conversation just dies. That’s just the way it goes for me.
Now, I’m not unhappy with this. I’m not lonely, and I’m not sad that I’m not constantly talking to people. Quiet moments are not empty for me. In fact, they are often what I need to continue with my day. (Which is why parenting toddlers is…um…challenging, but that’s for another post.)
Knowing this, however, how can I answer His call to bring in the harvest of souls?
Well, lately, people have come to me to talk about their faith, and I’ve realized that evangelization is not one-size-fits-all.
Here’s a way to spread faith that fits me:
1.) Start at home.
That’s right, overwhelmed mamas. You don’t need to be out there on street corners with your bibles. (More power to you if you do it, but I’m not there yet…) Anyone who is sharing the faith with their children is participating in evangelization. When you pray with your children, teach them the way they should go, or model good deeds for them, you are planting seeds in some very rich soil. Trust that the Holy Spirit will tend to them, and pray for their continued growth, but know that by raising your children in the faith you are doing the work of the kingdom. Give yourself some credit.
2.) Live your faith well.
One of my favorite sayings is this:
“Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”
So simple, but absolutely right.
Along the same lines, is one of my favorite hymns:
“We are the light of the world, may our light shine before all. That they may see the good that we do and give glory to God.”
You can talk about Jesus until you are blue in the face, but unless your actions show that your faith has transformed you, that your faith makes you a better human being, it’s going to be very hard to convince anyone that your words are worth listening to.
3.) Be well-informed and introspective.
There is a reason that understanding is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. It allows us to correctly discern how to be true followers of Christ.
You can’t share the faith if you don’t know the faith or what you believe. You can’t bring in others if you can’t articulate why it is you believe as you do. A blind faith is for children, who do not yet understand. A mature faith requires not only belief, but also reason.
Furthermore, there is a LOT of misinformation out there about what the church teaches. (I could–and probably will–go into an entirely different post about that) You can only fight that with your own knowledge. If you’re Catholic, like me, actually take the time to read the Catechism, or pick up a copy of the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults*. (I find it’s far more user-friendly than the catechism.)
4.) Shut up and LISTEN.
I know this advice will probably be easier for the introverts than the extroverts, but I really do believe there is a reason God gave us mouths that close and ears that don’t. If someone is friends with a Christian, I find it highly unlikely that they haven’t at least been TOLD the good news yet.
This is both a good and a bad thing. It’s sad that hearing the good news hasn’t converted them, but good in that it takes the pressure off you to find the perfect words. (Hint, the perfect words for why they should believe will come from within their own hearts, and only out of our mouths if the Holy Spirit makes it so.)
This may sound harsh, but I think it needs to be said: Someone’s faith journey is not about you, it is about them. So stop worrying about what you’re going to say and just listen.
LISTEN. Let them ask questions. If you don’t know the answers, admit that and tell them you’ll search for the answers with them. Keep the dialogue going. Don’t preach. Have a conversation.
5.) Be joyful!
One of the saddest criticisms I hear about my faith (specifically, as a Catholic), is that believers seem to mourn it. People see the routine of the mass as humdrum and empty. Lacking in joy. For me, this cannot be further from the truth, but the only way we are going to change that perception, is to each find the beauty and the joy in our own faith lives.
If you are not happy in your faith, have an honest conversation with yourself about why that is, and do your best to fix it. If you don’t know where to start, ask someone who exudes joy. Maybe they can help you find your own.
Fr. Arrupe had it right: Nothing is more important than finding god. Than falling in love.
So be in love.
And spread the gospel however you can.
(Even if you can’t go up to people. )
*Not an affiliate link. I’m not getting any money by recommending it, I just like it that much.