Once a month, all of the FOCUS leaders, which now includes me, has a GOPHER meeting (God’s ordinary people having extraordinary relationships). Last night we had one such meeting and we talked about and practiced evangelizing, or witnessing our faith to others. To be honest, it made me super uncomfortable, not because of nerves, but because of how “Cru” it sounded. “Oh boy, here he goes about Cru again.” No. Not really. You see, when I was on San Diego Summer Project, we had many different ministry teams, and each student was put on one. I was hoping to be put on the Friday Night Live, Spiritual Health, Prayer, Training, Movement Launching, Communication, or Community Life team. I did NOT want to be put on the Evangelism Team. I had tried the whole “sharing the Gospel” thing and I did not like it very much. But God knows that what I need is more important than what I want, and I was put on the Evangelism Team.
Over the course of that summer as I helped planned outreach projects and events, and even taught others how to do it, I really really began to own my skills. I even came to love sharing the Gospel with people. I loved using the Knowing God Personally booklets, sharing the four easy steps to becoming a Christian, ending with a personal prayer to receive Jesus into our hearts. In fact, it even came to the point where I wondered if this wasn’t my calling. But over the course of the following fall and spring, everything changed. Not everything, but some things. I never lost my zeal for Christ, but rather, my zeal brought me closer to him by bringing me into the Church he left behind, brought me to the foot of his altar to no longer receive bread and grape juice, but to receive Him; Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. It brought me into the Confessional, where I had real assurance of his mercy and forgiveness, where I actually had to humble my spirit, and whisper out loud my offenses towards the Eternal One. But the thing that changed was that the evangelism methods and message that I had learned in California, no longer seemed to work with the Gospel I preached. It isn’t enough to just say a little prayer and suddenly attain all of heaven for eternity. There is much more, Baptism, Confirmation, Repentance, Penance, Mass, and so, so, so much more. But how do you fit that into a short Gospel presentation? How do you balance a simple message with the deep theology of Christianity? How do I specifically preach the Catholic faith, rather than just a general “Jesus Loves You” message?
These are the tough questions that have driven me away from actively sharing the faith. And so, when we went over evangelism last night and the method was almost word for word from Cru, my stomach tightened, and I ground my teeth. I felt like the Gospel was being made too easy. How was this going to bring people to Mass? Wouldn’t people hear this, say a prayer, move on with their life and believe they were saved? But I realize now that you have to start somewhere. You have to present the foundation, and then move into the Sacraments, the Theology, the “Rules”. And believe it or not, there are rules to being a Christian. The difference between what I did in San Diego, and what I must do as a Catholic is follow up. Yeah, we intended to do follow up in San Diego, but we rarely did. We shared with all these people, but who knows where they are now? The important thing is to bring them to faith in Christ, but then to teach them what that means: Mass every Sunday, where we meet Jesus wholly, Confession and Penance of our sins, prescribed days of abstinence and fasting by the Church, no pre-marital sex, contraception, abortion, murder, drunkenness. Follow up is key.
So, I’m still a bit uncomfortable with the message and method that FOCUS is using, but its not my call. I trust that the Holy Spirit will be able to use me to lead people to the Catholic Faith.