Evangelization Best Practices for Parishes
While this is not an exhaustive list of everything a parish or person can do to begin evangelizing, the following are a few best practices that can be implemented at any parish and personally by all the faithful to invite all to (re)consider the Catholic faith. The following are offered to four groups: Pastors, Receptionists, Parish Staff, and the Parish Community as a whole.
Preach on Evangelization: Pastors can animate and encourage parishioners to evangelize, to share the good news with others and become witnesses through their actions by making connections in the Sunday lectionary with evangelization and bringing to their attention in the homily (See Evangelization Resources page for links and suggested reading about evangelization.
Plan as a staff: Meet with your staff and pastoral council to discuss how your parish can best invite, welcome and accompany returning Catholics. Make this a part of your pastoral plan by following the planning process in One Body, One Mission: The Parish Pastoral Council Guidelines of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
To access One Body, One Mission click here.
Hospitality: For many, the receptionist is the “minister of first impressions” and serves as the first face of Christ to those who visit or call the Parish Office. Be ready to receive and serve with love and patience. Always be sure to give your name and invite them to call you personally if they have any questions.
Referrals: It is important to know what each person on the parish staff does so that you can refer people to the correct staff member or volunteer. Know the job responsibilities of each person and their work schedule so you can inform people if the person they need is out of the office and when they will return.
Evangelization at the Core: Make each and every moment at your parish an opportunity to encounter Christ. Remember that evangelization is not one program among many but is the “essential mission of the Church… her deepest identity” (Evangelii Nutiandi, no. 18). Evangelization should permeate and direct all that we do.
Hospitality: St. Paul instructs us: “Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you” (Romans: 15: 7). By receiving people on the phone, in person, via email, etc. with love and graciousness, we model the love Christ has for each of us, and witness to what we proclaim.
Flexibility: As people return or seek to join themselves to the Church, it is important that we be ready to meet their needs. While it is not our responsibility to create new programs to meet each individual need, it is important that we do more than just ask people to wait. While people wait to register for Religious Education, RCIA, marriage preparation, etc., encourage them to attend Mass, involve them in other ways, and stay in contact with them.
Sharing the Good News: Be sure to share with one another and those you serve all the good you are doing as a staff to make an impact in the lives of those you serve. Encourage enthusiasm for your efforts by sharing stories of people returning to or entering the faith with each other and with the Diocesan Department for the New Evangelization at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hospitality: Be ready to receive both those who are new to the faith and those returning to the Church. Greet them, welcome them, and by your example model for them what it means to have a relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church. If you see someone in the pew next to you struggling to follow along with the Mass, kindly assist them and help them to follow along so that they may participate fully in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Evangelization: In the dismissal from Mass we are sent forth to “serve the Lord”. This service is demonstrated by our willingness to proclaim the Good News and witness to it with our everyday lives.
Invitation: Think carefully of the Catholics you know who are no longer practicing the faith. Each one of us is called to invite family and friends to “come home” to the Church. Many people when asked why they came back to the Church responded, “Because someone invited me”. Do not underestimate the power of a simple, non-threatening or non-judgmental invitation to “come and see.”
Learn more about your faith: Make a decision to learn more about your faith so that you will be "Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope" (1 Peter 3: 15). Enroll in an adult faith formation class through the Diocese or your parish, or gather a group of your friends together to meet one night a week at home and begin reading and discussing the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults. Make a concerted effort to do something to learn more about your faith so that you can provide answers to basic questions about the Mass, the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession), Sacred Scripture and Tradition, marriage and family life, etc.
To Purchase The United States Catholic Catechism for Adults Click Here