We Sullivans were sitting at the dinner table discussing puppies, and Sophia…
…our spunky three year old…
…thought it was quite the interesting conversation.
Partly because puppies are cute (who doesn’t think they’re cute)…
…and partly because one of her favourite stuffed animals is a little puppy; as life-like as they come.
And it was probably while thinking about her little ‘Wolfie’ as she calls him that she decided to make quite the contribution to the family discussion.
“My doggie has ears” she said with the most adorable smile.
And of course, appreciating the effort, we all responded with the appropriate, ‘aww.’
The pastoral team is really excited about evangelizing.
Pastors are happy to discuss the benefits of a thriving and effective evangelization effort.
Programs and possibilities are thrown around with the utmost enthusiasm;
In short, everyone finds it interesting.
But when the question is asked, ‘Who are you evangelizing? Tell me what they’re like?’ The answer we evangelists often hear is something quite vague.
AND HERE’S WHY…
Most succumb to the temptation of making their evangelizing efforts spring from programs instead of people.
Instead of looking at the people in front of them and asking which programs they need…
…most parishes look at the programs they want to run and then try to find the people to participate.
Here is a basic fact in the work of evangelization:
If you focus on the person you can always find (or create) the right program…
…but it doesn’t work the other way around.
If you focus on the program some people just won’t fit.
And you have experienced this as well, I am sure of it.
Your parish puts on a youth program and few youth are coming out to it.
Why? Possibly because it is the wrong fit for those youth.
Your parish puts on a charismatic retreat and fewer attend than you had anticipated.
Why? Quite possibly it was the wrong kind of retreat for those adults.
It doesn’t mean the program is bad,
…it doesn’t even mean that it won’t be the right fit for them down the road;
…all it means…
…is that the program you chose is not the right fit for the people in front of you right now.
Which approach is your parish taking? Here is one really quick way to tell.
Ask the same questions we do when the evangelization discussions begin.
Say something like, ‘who exactly are we trying to evangelize again?’
And if the response is as general as, ‘my people have ears’ then it is time to start the conversation from the beginning.
Remember: people first; programs second.
Have a great Monday everyone. in Christ, patrick