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Catholic Celebrity vs. Personal Evangelist

Our modern world is full of information and broad communication. One person sitting in his living room can tweet or host a show via YouTube to thousands of people. Modern resources have made it possible for churches to have highly engaging and educated speakers give talks on well-lit stages, giving off a celebrity-like appeal to grab the attention of viewers. All of this is done in an effort to evangelize.

Yet, I wonder if the right message is being relayed. All the flashy lights, technology, charisma, and education is engaging. However,  it might also be communicating to the viewer that this is how evangelization must be done. Does every evangelist really have to be highly-educated in theology, charming, and technologically savvy? In short, does he/she need to become a “professional” or a “celebrity” in order to lead others to Jesus?

The answer is a definitive NO! 

Evangelization, at its core, is relational and to forget that is dangerous. Priest’s are spiritual fathers. One’s neighbor is a brother or sister in Christ. A celebrity, or expert, or “professional Christian” is a more distant person who can rarely produce friendships or family-like relationships in your own life. Conversions that result from this type of evangelization can be short-lived if authentic, Christ-centered relationships are not established. Also, many of those who have lasting conversions as a result of this “professionalism” pursue a less familial approach to evangelization themselves. They tend to rely heavily on apologetics and debate, and forget the primacy of Christ-like love. 

The most effective evangelization is that which springs from one’s vocation. For example:

  • Diocesan priests ought to be priestly in every moment of their day. Their life, joy, sacrifice, prayer, thoughts, and actions are for the people within their parish boundaries. As their Father, that is how the priest wins souls for the Kingdom.

  • For married persons, their life’s mission is primarily to serve God through their family. Everything flows through their family and is colored by them. Any actions that build up their family, spiritually and physically, in turn build up the community at large.

  • Single people are able to use their time and talents to build up the community and reach those who would otherwise be unreachable.

Each vocation, in its unique way, leads others to Christ.  

All of this is not to say that we shouldn’t be utilizing every resource at our disposal in order to evangelize.  By all means use them, but all the while remember that God’s grace is sufficient (cf. 2 Cor 12:9), and nothing can replace the power of personal relationship.

 

GLENN GIGANDET

 

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