QDo you have any guidelines or suggestions for recruiting inquirers? After a somewhat small group this last year, we are looking to extend our reach.
AWhat your question really implies is, how do we get parishioners to be more active evangelizers? Catholics are can be a little skittish about “evangelization.” So it is always important to keep in mind what we mean by Catholic evangelization. In his booklet, The Rural Catechumenate, Michael Clay identifies six characteristics of evangelization that are particularly Catholic.
- Catholics make every effort to foster a deep conversion to the Gospel in the one being evangelized. This means, of course, we must be deeply converted to the Gospel ourselves and be willing to share it with others.
- Catholics don’t proselytize. We invite without manipulating.
- Catholics think local cultures are fascinating, especially those we don’t understand very well. We can always find something in someone else’s culture that is a good starting point for talking about our faith.
- Catholics don’t steal sheep. That is, we don’t try to get people to change Christian denominations if they are fruitful and happy where they are. Of course, we are always open to Christians of any denomination who have questions about us or an interest in us.
- We accept people exactly where they are in life, even if their lifestyle is difficult for us. That’s what Jesus did, and that’s what we do.
- Maybe most importantly, we become companions. We listen well, we empathize, we support, and we are loving toward everyone we encounter.
Those are the broad strokes. For more specific and programmatic steps, I suggest you get a hold of two resources. One is Pope Paul VI’s letter, “On Evangelization in the Modern World.”
The other is “Evangelization Teams“—a series of articles from PNCEA.
Good luck with this. Please stay in touch and let us know how your year progresses.