Many years ago, I took my first step into the world of adult catechesis. I thought I had a great idea that was sure to be a hit. Little did I know the challenges that awaited me.
In keeping with the use of media for evangelization and with the large amount of video available from great Catholic speakers, I obtained permission to show a series on our Catholic Faith. All I had to do was put a notice in the bulletin and arrive on the designated night to push the VCR button. The tape would do the rest. The parishioners would flock to see this series. Each attendee would love it as much as I did and leave with a renewed knowledge and inspiration to go and make disciples. Simple, right?
The evening arrived and only a handful or so appeared. It was a nice evening, though. We watched the video and had a wonderful discussion. The next week, a similar sized group attended.
So what went wrong? Certainly it was quality material. Was it the advertising? Would pulpit announcements have helped? Actually, nothing went wrong. It was helpful to those in attendance.
As the years went by, I analyzed each event. I tried a variety of approaches with varying results. Until it dawned on me. The parish does not need just one program. It does not necessarily need large gatherings to inspire us. In fact, it is not about numbers at all. A parish needs a wide variety of activities.
Could that be why the Bishops developed the National Plan for Evangelization of the United States entitled Go and Make Disciples the way they did? They included over 150 strategies for evangelization. Each one can be expanded into multiple approaches. There is truly, something for everyone in this plan.
Perhaps they lived through what I had and that is why they provided this cornucopia of choices for evangelizing a parish and community. Could they have been “inspired”?
That is one of the reasons I think the Bishop’s plan is a formula for success. Yes, they talk about using media. Yes, that is one of the methods I continue to use. However, after I began introducing others to the Bishop’s plan, I discovered that everyone can see something new and different. New ideas spring forth like a blossom in the Spring. I think that is what the Bishops had in mind.
We have refined our approach with media. We now recognize the importance of promoting the events that we have. We want large crowds. But if we do not get those large crowds, we will just look down the list and pick out another activity that the Holy Spirit inspires us to do. If everyone on earth were the same, we would only need one approach.
If you are looking for a way to approach evangelization in your community, I encourage you to take a look at the USCCB plan entitled Go and Make Disciples. If you would like tips, please email me. I would be happy to share how we have implemented this wonderful roadmap. Happy Evangelizing!