January 18, 2013

Catholic Evangelization Outreach / Peg McEvoy

An ‘elevator pitch’ for the faith?

An “elevator pitch” is a short, to-the-point summary lasting no more than two minutes—the length of a typical elevator ride—that defines and explains the value of a proposal. We need to have in mind, and ready at a moment’s notice, an “elevator pitch” for the Catholic faith.

Can you express the importance of your Catholic faith in two minutes?

Of course, two minutes cannot cover the breadth or depth of anyone’s faith. However, we can hone in on a few key themes and/or events.

How does the Catholic faith help Jesus touch your heart? Would it include devotion to the Eucharist, holy Scripture, Mary or another saint? What practices or traditions would you include?

It should be no surprise to anyone who is familiar with the Year of Faith that learning about and sharing faith in Jesus Christ is essential to reinvigorating the faith in our culture. Log on to www.archindy.org/yearoffaith. This is one of the keys to the new evangelization.

I often hear Catholics paraphrase a quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi that goes something like, “Preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary use words.”

It is certainly true that the way we live our lives is the most important witness that we can give to the Gospel. However, sometimes this quote is used as a justification for not professing or explaining the faith. This is a problem.

Catholics need to tell the story of our faith to others. We aren’t being asked to stand on a street corner or a college quadrangle shouting out pious statements. We are being asked to share our story of faith with others when the opportunities occur.

Pope Benedict XVI is even more specific in his announcement of the Year of Faith, which continues through November of this year. He says, “Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy.” Our faith grows when we receive love, and we help ourselves and others to grow in faith when we express this faith with grace and joy.

We need to be open to receiving and to communicating the faith so, yes, people should be able to experience God’s presence through each of us and how we live.

However, the pope issues us a challenge, too. The challenge is to be ready to explain how we experience our faith—our relationship with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

“We want this Year to arouse in every believer the aspiration to profess the faith in fullness,” he said, “and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope” (Porta Fidei, #9).

To “profess the faith … with confidence and hope” is to explain how our faith makes a difference in our lives.

This may sound wonderful in the abstract, but what does it really mean for parish evangelization teams and the rest of us in the pews?

When we use words to profess or explain the faith, it is hard to do unless we have prepared. Try putting together an “elevator pitch for the faith” that would help people understand why your faith makes a difference to you and to the world.

This can be a family activity in the car on the way home from Mass or a more organized activity for a small group like an evangelization team. You can have it ready for the welcome booth at the parish fair or you can write it down and use it as a reminder on difficult days.

But don’t be stingy—share it!

(Peg McEvoy is the archdiocesan associate director for Evangelization and Family Catechesis. For questions and/or help starting a parish evangelization team, contact her at pmcevoy@archindy.org.)

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