Magazine article Momentum

How NOT to Evangelize Parents

Magazine article Momentum

How NOT to Evangelize Parents

Article excerpt

Evangelization is necessary for all parents, but catechists and catechetical leaders need to be aware of how actions and mannerisms can be detrimental to the introduction of Jesus Christ

I believe most of us in ministry would be comfortable stating that parents need to be evangelized. When we look to Pew Studies that state 30 percent of Americans do not affiliate themselves with any religion and that 40 percent of Catholics do not believe in a personal God, we know we have some work to do.

The question, then, becomes how. A rich diversity of parents come to us. We have parents who are overwhelmed with their children's schedules. Parents who are struggling with finances; parents who are divorced, separated, alienated. We have parents who have a strong and deep personal relation- ship with Jesus and others who are barely familiar with the name. We have parents who understand that we are a partner, and we have parents who expect the school or parish programs to ensure their children become, and stay, Catholic. The strategies of evangelization must be flexible to meet the wide array of situations.

First, let's take a look at what is evangelization and how does it differ from and complement catechesis. Evangelization is the introduction to the person of Jesus Christ. It's falling in love. When I remember how I fell in love with my husband, or developed lasting relationships with friends, there was an initial quality that attracted me. Whether it was the way someone laughed or shared interests, something clicked. As I grew to know these individuals, the stronger that connection became. So it is with evangelization and catechesis. First one is introduced to Christ and has the initial frission of attraction. That spearheads a desire to know him more deeply, to spend time with him and to learn what he taught and thus become catechized.

The issue is how we introduce Jesus to others. Ever been on a blind date and developed your impressions about your date based on not only what was said about them, but who said it? We are the matchmaker and people will be attracted to Jesus, or repelled, by what we say or do. And, as stated earlier, our audience is large and diverse. Their faith and the faith of their children is dependent upon knowing Jesus first as one invested in their lives, and then ongoing learning, or catechesis of his teachings and of his church.

Evangelizing parents requires many approaches-more than can be provided here. …

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