Why are there so few evangelization teams?
Well, one reason is that Catholics still do not like the word “evangelization” (“new evangelization” is even worse) and it’s difficult for evangelizers to rehabilitate it. But that’s another blog posting.
The other reason, and the point of this blog, is that evangelization teams are often well-intentioned but rudderless. Why rudderless? Because they are often only tolerated by the parish staff, even by the pastor, and come up with ideas that are either too difficult, or seem too extreme for mainline Catholic parishes. “What, you want us to do what?”
Nevertheless, even though documents have called for parishes to have evangelization teams (E-Teams), probably fewer than ten percent come remotely close. This is such a shame—and a huge gap that shows the hollowness of so many of our words about evangelization. I heard recently that every Chic-fil-A store has two people dedicated to marketing chicken in their local areas. Catholic parishes mostly have only a bulletin editor, about the bottom of the effective-communication chain (with no offense to the bulletin editors—the problem is the medium).
What E-Teams allow parishes to do is necessary and basic: they help parishes think about who is not around their parish and how to think about them and reach them. In their widely-read book, “Rebuilt,” Father Michael White and his pastoral associate, Tom Corcoran, talk about “Timonium Tim,” the mental image they developed of the typical uninvolved Catholic in the Timonium, Maryland, area. He’s the one they are trying to reach. Want a first step for your parish? Begin by developing a profile of who is not present in your community. Who is Evanstan Evelyn and what is she like? Henderson Hal? The Woodlands Willie?
Obviously, the next step is to then think of a concrete action step to reach out to this person. This blog, the 21st Century Catholic Evangelization website, and the Paulist Evangelization Ministries website are three examples of places you can go for ideas on beginning your outreach.
Believe me, E-Teams are desperately needed; they can help. They can help you, they can help your parish and they can help “Brooklyn Barry.”