Last week, a number of young leaders, who are part of The Salt & Light Project travelled to London to join an event, called ‘Sharing the Best News in History’ looking at how we can raise evangelistic leaders in the Church. The evening included a talk from Fr. Frankie Mulgrew who was a stand-up comedian before becoming a Catholic priest (he also spoke at our most recent Lux. weekend) and Chris Stefanick, an author and speaker from the United States.
Fr. Frankie talked about how we humbly recognise our need for God and share that with others: being an evangelist is really like one beggar telling another beggar where the food is.
Chris reminded us that when we share our faith, we should always remember that we are in the midst of a love story. Without the context of a love story (just think about marriage - without the love story it’s a terrible idea: sharing a wardrobe and reporting your every move for the rest of your life!) we just become the Church of this particular issue or that particular issue. Rather, we are the Church of the best news in history!
We asked three young leaders for their thoughts on the evening.
Abraham, 17, said, ‘I am always wowed that there are Catholic Christians with so much enthusiasm and energy. It gives me confidence for myself.
The testimonies that Chris gave were very memorable. He told a story about a woman who was crying in a coffee shop. His first thought was, “Be quiet, I’m writing a talk about Jesus!” But he saw that he had a God-given opportunity. From there he managed to comfort her and pray with her, even though she was Buddhist! His experiences changed lives and it begins just by opening a conversation. In fact, he let God do the changing and he just tagged along.
Something that challenged me is 'Don't let fear dictate your actions'. It really hit home because my number one discomfort, when it comes to sharing my faith, is fear of rejection or fear of looking silly. This is something I can work on!’
Gwen, 19 said, 'It was a new way of looking at being Catholic. It was like a celebration and it felt like we were alive! Chris told us that early Christians described themselves as "the living ones." It was a bit like that!
I've realised that we need to go out to people and shouldn't wait for them to come to us. Not being closed is important. I feel like the church walls should become translucent so we are not closed off from other people.
Chris told a story about someone who he encouraged to volunteer with a Catholic organisation. But the work they did wasn't focussed on being Catholic, it was just about getting the job done. There wasn't any time spent sitting with the people they were serving and telling them about Jesus. The love story, the real reason for the church was missing! I like how Chris kept referring to our faith as a 'love story'.
I want to be authentically and openly Catholic. This is about accepting I might not have all the answers but I am being real!
Showing other people who God is, by your actions, is a foot in the door and then you can talk about Jesus. People can see who Jesus is through you. We need to be proud to be Catholic despite the misconceptions that people have.'
Ryan, 17, said, ‘I was struck by what Fr. Frankie said when he quoted Pope Francis' idea, that we 'propose rather than impose'.
People have this misconception that the church is just there to point out where things are wrong.
We don't want to force people to change their way of thinking. We want to say, we are the Catholic Church and you are welcome!
Fr. Frankie said everything starts with a smile. He talked about how he sparked up a conversation with construction workers, simply by smiling and making eye-contact. He ended up talking to them about what he does in the Church and the talks he gives, teaching people about the Catholic faith, and it really interested them!
Chris said we must speak the language (one of his apostolic features) so for example, people might frame the discussion in a way that makes the church look bad but we need put into a context in which they can understand, they will see the bigger picture
I found myself challenged to defend the faith. In our modern society is hard for teenagers. Nobody wants to be singled out as the church kid! But it is amazing when people can share their faith. We give people a choice. At the end of the day, we propose not impose.'
See photos of the evening here!