Thursday, October 23, 2014

Year 3 - Evangelization

Prayer at Union County Court House
In Union County, TN over 60 percent of the folks are labeled "unchurched".   That is a lot of folks you do not claim any church home or attend any church on a regular bases.   One aspect of our mission focus is the evangelization of the unchurched.

The first few years, this was fairly easy.   Many inactive Catholics found their way home.  Others who were deeply searching found us quickly.  Now, however, we are three years old and no longer the newest thing on the block.   We do suspect that once we are able to move out of the store front into a church building on the property then another movement of growth will occur.
2012 Games at Grainger Co. Tomato Festival

Our efforts over the first three years was a true team accomplishment.  The  missionary team wrote letters to any known Catholics, announced events in the paper, and were visible at various festivals.   The most intentional activity of mine has been the column "Come to the Water" which Fr. Aaron shared with me for two years.  Now I am the solo writer.  This is currently published monthly in Grainger Today and the Union Shopper.

2013 Art on Main
2011 Union County Heritage Festival

Trunk and Treat 2012
Fr. Aaron for two years engaged in evangelization efforts by having lunch with the students at the Grainger County High School his first year and  last year by having lunch with the students at Union County Middle School.   Br. Craig has visited every person on the original list of Catholics receiving the East Tennessee Catholic Newspaper based on the zip codes. 
Fr. Aaron with Youth

Br. Joe's evangelization efforts are more indirect.  When he is doing home repair they know that he is a Catholic minister.  Opportunities to share faith emerge from this.

A home Br. Joe has worked on
Both counties have sponsored "Curious about Catholic" courses.   These allow any one regardless of faith or denomination to come and ask questions.
Fr. Aaron giving instruction

I did attempt to form an evangelization committee but did not have much luck.   They meet once, but there was no follow up.  I am thinking of renaming it since the word "evangelization" is sometimes intimidating to folks.
Blue Grass Festival, Luttrell 2014

 Often times when people here this word they think door knockers and flyers.   Yet, really it is relationship building and service in areas where few folks are active in church.   The Catholic way might include some of the traditional ways, like Br. Craig's home visits.  Yet, it really is just simply being a witness to Jesus Christ in all circumstances.  It is finding places and ways to serve those who are not active in any church.  It is seeking out those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in any meaningful way.  It is sharing your faith story humbling with others.

One idea that I hope to implement next year is to go to several trailer parks in our area and sponsor an ice cream social.   Just serving the cool connection of Christ y meeting people where they are.

A little ice cream in Blaine, TN
A church is not a country club with exclusive membership and inviting others who are like them.  Rather are church is more like a street or block party where all are welcome to enjoy the abundance of God's soothing love.  The greater the variety of folks to more true to the gospel it is.

You do not need to be in Maynardville or Rutledge to engage in evangelization of the unchurched.  Every reader can do this wherever you be.  Pray for our efforts here, but also join us in spreading hope, faith and joy through the good news of Jesus Christ right where you are.
Surprise Lillies

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