Written by Sherry
Wednesday, 11 November 2009 07:25
This morning, I stumbled across this blog Very Sleepy People written by Lindsay, a young woman who is apparently a convert to Catholicism from a secular background.
She has written a thoughtful meditation on the two attitudes that Catholics typically have toward evangelization which is dead on, I think. And fits exactly what we are discovering as we work with leaders around the country in the Making Disciples process.
I found it especially interesting because Lindsay is talking from the perspective of a practicing millennial Catholic. Part of that small 13% minority of American Catholic 20-somethings who practice their faith. Tellingly, she titles the post "Catholic Cliques"
The options she sees in Catholic practice? (And I would guess Lindsay is reflecting largely on the practice of young adult Catholics like herself.) To use Lindsay's words: "actively hiding from the world because the pugnacious non-Christians annoy the hell out of them" or "jumping into the middle of things, guns' blazing."
Which reminds me of the article "Is the Millennial Generation Pre-Moral" that I wrote about in September which used similar language:
"One important caveat: not every American twenty-something is like this. In fact, many emerging adults have been reared into a world vastly different than the self-esteem culture. Some gravitate, instead, toward an Augustinian perception of the self and find their own contemporaries annoying."
Love that word "annoy". With the overtones of irritation, dislike, frustration, and avoidance that go with it. We avoid people and things that annoy us. Especially those that "annoy the hell out of us".
So how are traditional-leaning millennial Catholics to evangelize their own generation if they find their own generation so annoying? Because we will never evangelize what we do not love.
Lindsay's summation of what is missing is very insightful:
"Neither approach really seems to work, at least in my personal experience, because neither really seeks dialogue and conversation, and both seem to contribute to heightened tension and misunderstanding."
I guess this all stems from my personal belief that evangelization begins with conversation and understanding. You can’t effectively evangelize without understanding where someone is coming from, because people are different, and it’s not an instance of one argument fits all. You need to know where someone’s coming from, you need to know what they believe and why, and you need to meet them where they are, not where you’d like them to be. You need to listen to them, not just talk to them, because people believe in their convictions, and they have reasons for them. It’s a delicate path to travel because people’s hearts are invested in such things, and people who actively evangelize can unintentionally
offend others because of it.
We need to meet them where they are, not where we'd like them to be. That isn't kumbaya Catholicism, folks. It is the first movement of evangelization. Which, like all missionary work, involves leaving the comforts of home to go to a people who live in another world. Whether it is a spiritual world or a physical world.
Read Lindsay's entire post. And the comments which are very interesting as well. And spend a few minutes meditating on it. It will be time well spent.