How Evangelization Happens - Go and Make Disciples

How Evangelization Happens (¶34-44)

34. The Holy Spirit is the fire of Jesus. The Spirit, the first gift of the risen Christ to his people,31 gives us both the ability to receive the Gospel of Jesus and, in response, the power to proclaim it. Without the Holy Spirit, evangelization simply cannot occur.32 The Spirit brings about evangelization in the life of the Church and in the Church's sharing of the Gospel with others.

In the Life of the Church

35. We cannot really talk about the "ordinary" life of the Church because all of it is the graced gift of the Holy Spirit. Yet there are familiar ways by which evangelization happens: by the way we live God's love in our daily life; by the love, example, and support people give each other; by the ways parents pass faith on to their children; in our life as Church, through the proclamation of the Word and the wholehearted celebration of the saving deeds of Jesus; in renewal efforts of local and national scope; in the care we show to those most in need; and in the ways we go about our work, share with our neighbors, and treat the stranger. In daily life, family members evangelize each other; men and women, their future spouses; and workers, their fellow employees, by the simple lives of faith they lead. Through the ordinary patterns of our Catholic life, the Holy Spirit brings about conversion and a new life in Christ.

36. Here, there are two elements at work: witness, which is the simple living of the faith; and sharing, which is spreading the Good News of Jesus in an explicit way.

37. Certainly, our families, parishes, associations, schools, hospitals, charitable works, and institutions give a powerful witness to the faith. But do they share it? Does their living faith lead to the conversion of minds and hearts to Jesus Christ? Does the fire of the Holy Spirit blaze in them? This plan and strategy aims to make Catholics in the United States, individually and as a Church, better sharers of God's Good News.

In Sharing the Gospel with Others

38. The Holy Spirit also evangelizes through our attempts to reach those who have given up the practice of their Catholic faith for one reason or another and those who have no family of faith. Many in our Catholic community know family members, friends, and neighbors who do not have or practice faith.

39. Millions of Catholics no longer practice their faith. Although many of them may say they are Catholic, they no longer worship with the community and thereby deprive themselves of the gifts of word and sacrament. Some were never formed in the faith after their childhood. Some have drifted away because of one or another issue. Some feel alienated from the Church because of the way they perceive the Church or its teaching. Some have left because they were mistreated by church representatives.

40. As a community of faith, we want to welcome these people to become alive in the Good News of Jesus, to make their lives more fully a part of the ongoing story of salvation and to let Christ touch, heal, and reconcile them through the Holy Spirit. We want to let our inactive brothers and sisters know that they always have a place in the Church and that we are hurt by their absence—as they are. We want to show our regret for any misunderstandings or mistreatment. And we want to help them see that, however they feel about the Church, we want to talk with them, share with them, and accept them as brothers and sisters. Every Catholic can be a minister of welcome, reconciliation, and understanding to those who have stopped practicing the faith.

41. Our plan also asks Catholics to reach out to those who do not belong to a faith community and to invite them to consider the power of the Gospel of Jesus, which the riches of the Catholic Church can bring into their lives. Perhaps this may seem the most difficult of all the tasks evangelization asks of us. Yet if we have once seen the joy of those received into the Church at Easter, if we have ever experienced the growth of those going through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, if we have ever seen someone thrilled with the Gospel for the first time in his or her life, we know that this is, in truth, one of the sweetest gifts of the Spirit.

42. The Holy Spirit, through the ecumenical movement, is calling churches and ecclesial communities into ever-deeper communion through dialogue and cooperation. We look forward with great eagerness to the day when all are members of one family. While recognizing that the life of other Christian communions can truly bring about a life of grace, we nevertheless cannot ignore all that still divides us. Our love for all who confess Christ and our desire for unity compel us to share with them the fullness of revealed truth that God has entrusted to the Catholic Church and to learn from them expressions of the truths of faith that other churches and ecclesial communities share with the Catholic Church.

43. Those who have not received the Gospel deserve honor and respect for following God as their consciences direct them. They are related to the People of God in a variety of ways. First are the Jews, the Chosen People, to whom the covenants and promises were made and who, in view of the divine choice, are a people most dear to God.

44. People of other non-Christian religions also have the right to hear the Gospel, as missionaries have brought it over the centuries. God's plan of salvation also includes the Muslims who profess the faith of Abraham and, together with us, adore the one, merciful God. Then there are those who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church but nevertheless seek God with sincere hearts and seek to do God's will as they know it. Interreligious dialogue presents an opportunity to learn about other religious traditions and to explain our own. Such dialogue, however, must never be a camouflage for proselytizing. Rather, it should be approached with utmost respect and sensitivity. Catholics earnestly share their faith in Jesus Christ, which gives meaning to their lives, praying for that good day, known to God alone, when all peoples will address the Lord in a single voice and serve God with one accord.33


  1. John 20:22
  2. On Evangelization in the Modern World, no. 75
  3. Zephaniah 3:9; Isaiah 66:23; Psalm 65:4; Romans 11:11-32