Who’s your favorite evangelist?

The Evangelization and Family Life Ministries office shares their inspiration

Therese Aaker

We can learn a lot from people around us and the men and women who went before us in sharing who Jesus Christ is with other people. Evangelizing might not be easy, but it’s very simple: when your life has been changed by this Person, the first thing you want to do is tell everyone you know about him.

Learning to evangelize, to share the person of Christ with others, gets easier with practice — but it also helps to see how others have done it.

We asked the Evangelization and Family Life Ministries office to share who inspires them to evangelize and why.

Scott Elmer
Director of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries
“My favorite Evangelist is St. Paul. I am always inspired by his conversion. It’s not so much that he went from murdering Christians to becoming one of them, but that upon seeing the resurrected Jesus, he sees everything that he had ever hoped for and desired realized, and invests every fiber of his being into proclaiming the glory of the King and His Kingdom. Paul constantly reminds me of the greatness and importance of the Resurrection in evangelization. Top all of this with his teachings on the charisms and anointings of the Holy Spirit, and for me, Paul becomes the most captivating figure in the history of the Church (Holy Family not withstanding). His zeal is unparalleled, and there is nothing he would not do to advance the reign of the King.”

Jared Staudt
Catechetical Formation Specialist
“My favorite evangelist is St. Benedict. I think his Rule provides a model for how to build a community of prayer, which also informs our work. I have found the Benedictine tradition to be inspiring for my family life: the role of the abbot in caring for his monks, imitating the monastery’s self-sufficiency, and seeking God above all else. I recommend the recently released The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher for more on how St. Benedict can inspire us to rebuild Christian culture, just as the monks did during the Dark Ages.”

Mary McGeehan
Events and Outreach Coordinator
“My favorite evangelist is honestly my mom! She would totally deny that she’s an evangelist, but that’s why she’s my favorite! I catch her casually chatting about God with her friends from book club, her ladies’ brunch group, her hair stylist, friends from college, coworkers, neighbors, people on the plane, etc. People let her speak into their lives because they trust her, and she earns the right to be heard. When she shares, she’s simple and heartfelt.”

Carrie Keating
NFP and Marriage Specialist
“Growing up an evangelical protestant, my favorite evangelist was always Billy Graham. I remember when he came to Denver in 1987 and did a 10-day crusade at Mile High Stadium. It was a powerful event to witness. He would always start with the Bible. He’d recount a story from the Bible about a person who had a struggle with God and then he would lead into a story about a modern day individual and how their struggles led them to God. Finally, he’d bring it home to all of us there that evening and end with a very simple call with two main points. One, to repent of sin – be a different person, make a change in your life. Two, to commit your life to Christ alone and look to Jesus for forgiveness and salvation. It was simple and profound. After the invitation, he would invite people to come down and make a stand openly for Christ. Thousands of people responded over those 10 days.”

Kristina Murray
Parish Evangelization Specialist
“Christopher West has a unique way of presenting St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. I attended the TOB Institute’s Head and Heart Immersion Course presented by Christopher in the Fall 2015 and it rocked my world! I experienced such deep healing and transformation! I am utterly convinced that if the world knew and experienced the Theology of the Body, we would all become the men and women God desires us to be! Christopher West presents the Gospel through the lens of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body in a unique way that causes one to rethink their lives, relationships and spiritual life.”

Kim Perez
Coordinator of Youth Ministry
“My favorite evangelist is the Samaritan woman at the well. Something I really like about this story is that after her conversation with Jesus, she leaves her water jug at the well to tell the people in her town about him. She left behind the earthly reason that brought her to the well in the first place. Now she leaves the well with her spiritual jug full and overflowing. There is an urgency to share her story and convert the hearts of those in her town. As a result, many from the town come out to meet Jesus, and they invite him to stay with them. The disciples went into the town and brought back only bread. The Samaritan woman went into the town, and brought back the town. Sometimes our greatest evangelizers are the people we least expect, we just need to be open to the truth of the message.”

COMING UP: The Kerygma: An Old Word and a New Evangelization

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Since Pentecost (Around 33 A.D.), the Church has been preaching a message of salvation which we call the Kerygma. Simply, the Kerygma is the announcement about Jesus Christ, his life, mission, and saving actions. It is related to the “Gospel” which, before it was associated with Jesus, was associated with new emperors and kings to announce a new kingdom. That is precisely the way in which we, 2,000 years later, are still called to preach the Kerygma, to announce the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and invite all men and women into it.

Every single person is called to make a personal response to the saving message of Jesus Christ. This is constitutive of being a Christian. While it is true that the Gospel transcends time and culture, we can see historically that the way in which the Gospel is preached should be adapted to the culture it is seeking to enrich and transform. In light of this, I wish to offer some tips on preaching the Gospel to our current culture in this New Evangelization. I’m focusing on general themes/overtones and it should be assumed that when preaching the Kerygma, we are always proclaiming the salvific events of the Paschal Mystery.

1. God is good.

One of the best intros to a sermon I’ve ever heard was, “God’s in a good mood today.” Within the Church, we tend to have a distorted image of God’s goodness and believe he is punishing us or withholding blessings for past sins, or doesn’t want to help us because “it’s not his will.” In truth, God’s response to our sins was sending Jesus to die on a cross while forgiving the ones who made it happen. At Cana, Mary wasn’t concerned about it being God’s will to change water into wine, she just asked boldly in faith because she knows God is good. We can’t underestimate his goodness.

2. Jesus is the answer to every desire you have.

This proclamation combats the common belief that Church is always telling everyone how to live their lives and should mind its own business. There is not one desire in the human heart which is not meant to be fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Even sinful desires are expressions of your longing for what only God can give. Lust is generally a desire for intimacy, companionship, or power. Greed is a desire to be fulfilled completely. Wrath is almost always a desire for justice. Everything you desire can be found in the Kingdom of Heaven. People need to hear what God wants to do for them, not what they need to do to please God.

3. Call for a Response.

Many times, the message just isn’t enough. No one gets engaged by merely telling their girlfriend how much they love them, they ask them to marry them. We recently hosted an Unbound conference in Denver and after each talk the speaker gave, we had 20-25 minutes of “wall prayer” where people could just walk up to any of the prayer teams (Who were lined up along the wall) and pray with real people in response to what the Lord was moving in their hearts during the talk. So many times, we hear great talks or even give great presentations of the Gospel and then walk away from them without making an act of the will for Christ. When you tell someone how good God is, ask them if they want to receive more of his love and presence in their lives. Then pray with them right there. Simple prayers are just as effective as elegant ones and they take less time. I love “repeat after me prayers” because then the person chooses to pray with their own voice.

If you have heard the Kerygma and responded with your words and actions, the Kingdom of God is inside you. If you don’t know if the Spirit of God is living and active inside you, ask God for more. Ask God boldly for a greater outpouring of his Holy Spirit because he never tires of giving good gifts to his children. In this Easter season, let us stir into flame the gifts of the Holy Spirit, vow to take advantage of the next opportunity we have to tell someone what God has done for them., and continually pray, “More Lord.” Leif Hetland said it best: “You teach what you know, but you reproduce what you are.” Let your Kingdom come, Lord.