How do I evangelise?

The first and most important way to evangelise is to live our faith fully and joyfully. This is the witness of our life. Pope Paul VI explained it this way:

Above all the Gospel must be proclaimed by witness. Take a Christian or a handful of Christians who, in the midst of their own community, show their capacity for understanding and acceptance, their sharing of life and destiny with other people, their solidarity with the efforts of all for whatever is noble and good. Let us suppose that, in addition, they radiate in an altogether simple and unaffected way their faith in values that go beyond current values, and their hope in something that is not seen and that one would not dare to imagine. Through this wordless witness these Christians stir up irresistible questions in the hearts of those who see how they live: Why are they like this? Why do they live in this way? What or who is it that inspires them? Why are they in our midst? Such a witness is already a silent proclamation of the Good News and a very powerful and effective one...All Christians are called to this witness, and in this way they can be real evangelisers. (Evangelii nuntiandi, 21)

It is a relief to know that much of the work of evangelisation is done by living our faith in its fullness. (To learn how to live your faith more fully, click here.) However, it doesn’t stop there. The questions that are raised by our way of life and its inspiration have to be answered. So the witness of our lives is not enough. Pope Paul VI explains:

Nevertheless this always remains insufficient, because even the finest witness will prove ineffective in the long run if it is not explained, justified – what Peter called always having “your answer ready or people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have” – and made explicit by a clear and unequivocal proclamation of the Lord Jesus. The Good News proclaimed by the witness of life sooner or later has to be proclaimed by the word of life. There is no true evangelisation if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed.

For many of us, this is the scary part, the part we are least likely to do. However, this is what Pope Paul VI states about this:

...it is unthinkable that a person should accept the Word and give himself to the kingdom without becoming a person who bears witness to it and proclaims it.

But we are not all gifted preachers and we might be unsure of what we are to say. There must be a way that we can have our “answer ready” when people ask us the reason for our hope.

Perhaps the most powerful and simple way is to be ready to share our ‘faith story’ or ‘testimony’. This means sharing with another the story of how encountering Christ and following him has changed us and given us hope for the future. It is worthwhile spending some time in prayer reflecting on the way that God has revealed himself to us, how we responded and in what ways this has changed us.