Robert Barron on Effective Evangelizing in Our Modern Context

I am in the midst of a blog series titled: “Must the Reformation Wars Continue?” Today I share a short video that is worth watching if you want to see how an outstanding Catholic communicator, and a really good friend, speaks about doing evangelism effectively in our time. There are some exceptional insights here for all Christians.

The life of the Christ does not begin with the law but with Spirit, with profound joy and really good news. Joy begins in God because God alone is our true human joy. What Fr. Barron says about evangelization needs to be heard by both Catholics and evangelicals. When you begin with the law you turn people off, you skew the entire mission project. Begin with joy and you will get to ethics and obedience through the right path. This was precisely where the early church did in a most hostile context. It is also where the American church must go in our increasingly secular context.

The Catholic Church in America, only a few decades ago, was all about defending the law, about concentrating on (especially sexual) ethics. That face of the church was not compelling. The same is true for conservative evangelicals who inherited the whirlwind in the late 1970s when they turned toward the politics of the ideological right in large numbers. The resulting “culture wars” have not helped our evangelizing efforts at all. This can now be seen in the large numbers of young adults who are turned off by the message of the church.

How do we become evangelically compelling again? The answer that Fr. Barron gives is both brilliant and profoundly biblical. Draw people into the exuberance of the faith and then teach them what it means to live this deep faith that has produced such true divine joy. He says, “We need to learn the right rhythms.” Evangelization that begins with joy leads people to ask: “What do I need to do to inculcate this joy in my daily experience?”

Draw people into deep friendship through real love and then tell them what this love actually means and how it directly impacts their joy day-by-day.

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