Evangelii Nuntiandi 46: Person-To-Person Evangelization

A most effective way of transmitting the Gospel …

46. For this reason, side by side with the collective proclamation of the Gospel, the other form of transmission, the person-to-person one, remains valid and important. The Lord often used it (for example, with Nicodemus, Zacchaeus, the Samaritan woman, Simon the Pharisee), and so did the apostles. In the long run, is there any other way of handing on the Gospel than by transmitting to another person one’s personal experience of faith? It must not happen that the pressing need to proclaim the Good News to the multitudes should cause us to forget this form of proclamation whereby an individual’s personal conscience is reached and touched by an entirely unique word that he receives from someone else. We can never sufficiently praise those priests who through the sacrament of Penance or through pastoral dialogue show their readiness to guide people in the ways of the Gospel, to support them in their efforts, to raise them up if they have fallen, and always to assist them with discernment and availability.

The priest example is useful, but it still betrays an institutional focus. How often do priests (or other institutional persons) only engage one-on-one when the person is not involved in a sacrament? I’ll be posting on this a little more in the days to come, but this individual approach is one of the more useful tools in the Catholic evangelist’s box. Regular lay people looking for a more effective and fruitful ministry among the unchurched might well consider it. The sharing of faith in the personal setting has an undeniable impact. And less in institutional settings, more in the places where people may be found: workplaces, schools, coffeehouses, bars, parks, and such–wherever people are to be found.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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