I often tell my audiences about the book Creating Customer Evangelists by Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell, not because I think they should read it, but because, as Catholics, we should be aware of the fact that a book that has nothing to do with faith, religion, or spirituality is using the word evangelists! The premise of the book is that customers should be so enamored with your product or service that they will become “outspoken evangelists for your company” (as phrased in the book’s description). The description goes on to talk about converting “believers” into an army of evangelizers.
I can’t help but think of Jesus saying, “The people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light.” (Luke 16:8) Is it wrong that a book on business strategies is using words such as evangelists, conversion, and believers? No. What is wrong is that they are doing a better job than we are in these areas!
Our job, as evangelizing catechists, is to create an army of evangelizers—people who will be so enamored with Jesus Christ that they will become outspoken evangelists for the Church. How do we do that? We need to empower emerging disciples to be capable of:
- describing their new reality and belief system (the Good News)
- describing how they gained access to the Good News
- explaining why they sought this new reality and belief system
- explaining how this new belief system works
- embodying the affect of living according to this new belief system.
In order for this to happen, we need to stop thinking of those we teach as “students” and instead think of them as partners and co-workers whom we are mentoring and apprenticing. That means:
- not only speaking to them, but also listening
- sharing “inside” information (i.e. not just doctrine but our personal insights about living that faith in the world)
- equipping them with strategies for sharing and telling their stories (in person as well as through social media) in a way that makes an emotional connection
- making them feel part of a community of like-minded people
- providing them with opportunities to invite others to experience what they are experiencing
- enabling them to feel that they are part of a movement or a cause.
The New Evangelization will not be powered by TV ads, print ads, billboards, or social media advertising. Rather, it will be powered by people telling their stories of how living as a disciple of Jesus Christ has transformed their lives.
Read the other articles in the How to Be a More Evangelizing Catechist series.
Download a flyer of the nine strategies we’ve talked about in this series. Go deeper with these ideas by reading my book, Under the Influence of Jesus: The Transforming Experience of Encountering Christ.
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