A cool breeze with a blend of warm sun rays, topped with a handful of patience, is the recipe for a fruitful fishing experience. As we dive into the heart of summer, we are reminded of the fishing master, the expert of patience, and the designer of the breeze and sun, Jesus. Jesus called the disciples, and all of us, to be “fishers” of men and women. By outfitting ourselves with a variety of evangelization approaches, we can be sure our fishing expedition will result in a successful catch: in other words, new people open to a faith-filled encounter.Fishing with nets
When we “fish with nets,” we extend an open invitation to people of all ages and in all walks of life to engage with us in our parish community. Some of the nets are parish events that are open to all in the community. Newspaper articles, flyers, and posters are all broad-based evangelization techniques aimed at a wide audience. Fishing with nets can involve producing a parish brochure that can be distributed at area hotels, mailed to people who move into our community, or personally delivered in a door-to-door evangelization campaign. Today, the internet can be a literal evangelization "net" with websites and blogs of inspiring articles. The idea of fishing with nets is to reach out to as many people as possible with an invitation to encounter Christ.
Fishing with poles
This method involves a more focused, personal approach. We fish with poles when we share our faith one-on-one with coworkers, neighbors, friends, or family members; or when we reach out to a specific group such as teens, newly married couples, parents of preschoolers, or empty- nesters. People who are hurting because of a divorce, illness, a job loss, a death in the family or some other life crisis are often open to an invitation to encounter Christ individually or in a small-group setting. Just like someone who fishes with the right kind of bait, we want to consider the specific message that will resonate with our intended listeners and be sensitive in our delivery.
Nets AND Poles!
Sometimes, it takes a combination of nets and poles to reach people who are unchurched and people who no longer practice their Catholic faith. We have seen Pope Francis use both techniques. Sometimes his message is broadcast, published, or tweeted to large numbers of people, and other times he interacts with a small group or focuses on one person. In everything he says and does, Pope Francis is filled with joy, and he warns us that it is not through proselytizing that the Church grows but rather through attraction to what is good and what is true. “Goodness always tends to spread. Every authentic experience of truth and goodness seeks by its very nature to grow within us….As it expands, goodness takes root and develops. If we wish to lead a dignified and fulfilling life, we have to reach out to others and seek their good.” [EG, 9]
Whether we lower our nets to attract large numbers or take a targeted approach to attract individuals or small groups, we can be sure that the Risen Christ will be present with us in the same way that he was present to the apostles when he cooked breakfast for them on the shore. Christ’s presence is the source of our joy, and our joy increases when we share Christ with others.
Read more about "The New Evangelization" and Why it Matters.