Takingthe First Step: Keys to Sharing Faith Person-to-Person
Saint Paul Street Evangelization
our Relationship with Christ - Growth in Self-knowledge
Do not conform yourselves to
this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern
what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2
All Catholics, whatever their circumstances in life, have been called to
proclaim the Gospel (CCC 905, 1816; Evangelii
Gaudium, no. 120). As a grassroots organization, St. Paul Street
Evangelization has equipped thousands of Catholics for the task of evangelization.
Our evangelists share the Gospel with their communities through face-to-face
encounters in the public square. They are on sidewalks and street corners; they
are in classrooms and workplaces; they are at festivals, bus stations, front
doors, and even prisons. Years of experience and tens of thousands of conversations
have taught us that evangelization is a ministry of presence which takes place
through listening, befriending, proclaiming the Gospel, and making an
invitation to faith. These steps are the beginning of a lifelong process of conversion
and discipleship for many people.
Evangelization is at the heart of the mission of the Church. "As the
kernel and center of His Good News, Christ proclaims salvation, this great gift
of God which is liberation from everything that oppresses man but which is
above all liberation from sin and the Evil One, in the joy of knowing God and
being known by Him, of seeing Him, and of being given over to Him" (Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, no. 9). Evangelists
are motivated by the love of God and the desire for the salvation of souls;
they wish to share with others that faith in Jesus Christ is the way given to
us by God that we might spend eternity in heaven with him, and avoid the pains
of hell (see 2 Corinthians 5:14).
In order to become an evangelist it is necessary to first examine our own
life and our walk with Christ. In The Joy
of the Gospel, Pope Francis reminds us that people are attracted to the joy
they see in Christians. Joy cannot be faked, but radiates from a soul who is in
the state of grace, and prays. The evangelist has given their life to Jesus, received
forgiveness of sin, and therefore exhibits the graces evident in a life lived
according to the cross of Christ.
Evangelists encounter people in the messiness of their lives. Evangelization
begins when we invest ourselves in others in all their brokenness, because our
own brokenness has been taken up and healed by Christ. There is something
different about such Christians. They have found joy in their suffering because
they have put their faith in Jesus, who first suffered and died for us. The
Christian does not escape suffering, but suffering is transformed and gives way
to a deep and abiding peace because of the nearness of Jesus Christ. "It is
impossible to persevere in a fervent evangelization unless we are convinced
from personal experience that it is not the same thing to have known Jesus as
not to have known him" (Evangelii Gaudium,
no. 266). We cannot introduce others to Jesus if we do not know Him and if we
do not live as disciples.
The Life of
Discipleship - Strengthening your Faith through Prayer & Sacrament
The beginning of
wisdom is fear of the LORD, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10
"Thanks solely to this encounter – or renewed encounter – with God's
love, which blossoms into an enriching friendship, we are liberated from our
narrowness and self-absorption. We become fully human when we become more than
human, when we let God bring us beyond ourselves in order to attain the fullest
truth of our being. Here we find the source and inspiration of all our efforts
at evangelization. For if we have received the love which restores meaning to
our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?" (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 8)
A missionary disciple must find a balance between the contemplative life
and the active life of Christian service. Christians who do not strengthen
their faith through prayer and the sacraments run the risk of being caught up
in the allure of the world and falling back into sinful habits. Pope Francis
warns us against being trapped by a consumer mentality and cautions us to be
detached from the things in the world by finding fulfillment in God: "The Church
is sent by Jesus Christ as the sacrament of the salvation offered by God.
Through her evangelizing activity, she cooperates as an instrument of that
divine grace which works unceasingly and inscrutably." (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 112)
Evangelists should first be encouraged to embrace the Gospel fully by
acknowledging their complete dependence on God's mercy, by professing their faith
at Mass, and by repenting of their sins and receiving the Sacrament of Penance
and Reconciliation regularly. Further, evangelists should develop a devotional
life, such as praying the Rosary for the conversion of souls, practice Christian
meditation such as Lectio Divina, praying
the Rosary for the conversion of souls, or, as Pope Francis asked, by
consecrating themselves daily to Jesus.
of Presence - Evangelizing through the Art of Listening & Genuine
This is my
commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to
lay down one's life for one's friends. John 15:12-13
In order to proclaim the Gospel to another, we must first open ourselves
up to listening to another person's story and befriending that person in their own
journey. Evangelization requires time, commitment, and the vulnerability of
interpersonal relationships more than it requires investment in particular
programs. We cannot evangelize those we do not love, and we cannot love those
we do not take the time to invest in, whether or not they end up becoming
Catholic disciples. A good starting point is to find common ground with those we
want to evangelize.
"In this preaching, which is always respectful and gentle, the first step
is personal dialogue, when the other person speaks and shares his or her joys,
hopes and concerns for loved ones, or so many other heartfelt needs. Only
afterwards is it possible to bring up God's word, perhaps by reading a Bible
verse or relating a story, but always keeping in mind the fundamental message:
the personal love of God who became man, who gave himself up for us, who is
living and who offers us his salvation and his friendship" (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 128).
Relational evangelization presupposes the understanding that the
discovery of Jesus and the experience of His mercy comes before the obligations
and demands of the Gospel and the moral life in Christ. As Fr. Raniero
Cantalamessa said in Jesus Christ, The
Holy One of God, to put the obligations of the Gospel ahead of the
discovery of Jesus is to put the carts before the railway engine.
With this in mind, here are some basic steps we can take to quickly and
easily share our faith. A short, two minute conversation can change a person's
A face-to-face conversation about Jesus Christ and His
Church can begin with an icebreaker. Often it is helpful to give someone a
tangible reminder of Christ's love for them, like a Rosary or a holy medal.
Invite the person to share something of their story
with you. Get to know them as you would anyone you meet for the first time.
Consider that this person is loved by God and that the
Holy Spirit may have put them in your life so that they can hear the Gospel.
Ask them if they go to church or to describe their relationship
with God as a way to start talking about faith.
Offer to share one good reason why you choose to
believe in God or be a Christian.
Offer to remember them in prayer daily for the next
week and ask them if they have a particular prayer request.
Offer to pray for them on the spot, placing the burden
to pray on you and not on them.
Ask permission to contact them later and tell them you
would like to invite them to a parish event, or even over to your own home.
Follow up on your promise to contact them.
Invite them to events at your parish or small groups
where they can explore the Gospel.
evangelists have found that people want to talk about God and want to connect
with other people. We need to be open and vulnerable enough ourselves to extend
an offer of friendship and willingly open up the door to a conversation about
of Proclamation - Telling Stories & Making Invitations
This is the time of
fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel. Mark 1:15
According to Pope Paul VI, no true evangelization can exist if Jesus
Christ has not been proclaimed (Evangelii
Nuntiandi, no. 22). All Catholics share in the responsibility of
proclaiming the Gospel in word and the witness of life. When prompted by the
Holy Spirit, Catholics should be practiced enough to be able to make a simple
proclamation of the Gospel. "We have rediscovered the fundamental role of the
first announcement or kerygma, which needs to be the center of all evangelizing
activity and all efforts at Church renewal" (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 164).
Often, the Gospel is best proclaimed through story telling. This might
include telling stories from popular culture with Christian themes, telling the
great story of salvation in a simple and direct way, sharing our own personal
testimony, or pointing out how God is at work in a person's life. Oftentimes,
it also means planting seeds through other pre-evangelization activities that
open up the heart to hearing the Gospel.
When the Gospel is proclaimed it is necessary to follow up the
proclamation with an invitation that leads to accompaniment. In a face-to-face
encounter Catholics should do their best to ask for permission to follow up
with people they witness to, get their names and numbers (or email addresses)
and then invite them to continue the journey of discipleship by connecting them
to appropriate resources in the local parish. We always seek to build a bridge
of trust between the heart of the person, the local Catholic community, and
Jesus. These relationships lead to conversion.
of Accompaniment - Walking with People to Discipleship
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them… Then beginning with Moses and
all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the
scriptures. Luke 24:15,27
The journey that began with a smile and a friendly greeting leads to
spiritual accompaniment, just as Jesus walked with those on the road to Emmaus
and opened the Scriptures to them. Those who have heard the Gospel should be
encouraged to act on the knowledge of the truth and make an act of the will to
follow Jesus. This is what conversion looks like. Once the will is resolved to
follow Jesus, the relationship with Him can begin with a prayer of
consecration, returning to the sacrament of reconciliation, and making a
commitment to amend one's life and become a disciple. An evangelist serves as a
ready friend, guide, and prayerful intercessor throughout this process.
There is much more to be said about each of these areas, but the basic
process of evangelization is not complicated. It does, however, require us to
do the hard work of being saints ourselves, to invest in the lives of those we
wish to evangelize, and to overcome the fear of making invitations to faith in
St. Paul Street Evangelization (SPSE) is a
grassroots, non-profit organization, dedicated to responding to the mandate of
Jesus to preach the Gospel to all nations by taking the Catholic Faith to the
streets. Christ's call to evangelize was made to every Catholic Christian, and
the Second Vatican Council reiterated this need, urging each of the baptized to
bring the Gospel, found fully in the Catholic Church, to a culture that has
largely reverted to paganism. As an on-the-street Catholic evangelization organization,
St. Paul Street Evangelization provides an avenue for people to share the
Person of Jesus Christ and the truth and beauty of the Catholic Faith with a