Evangelization: Looking for mission-effectiveness

Chris Richardson

Responding to his bishop's call to consider the renewal required for mission-effectiveness, the author argues that personal renewal is commendable and an important first step, but wider issues concerning the Church and culture will need to be resolved if real progress is to be made.

Chris Richardson is a retired Catholic secondary headteacher and diocesan commissioner. He is currently an associate lecturer in Catholic school leadership at St Mary's University, Twickenham..

evangelizationBishop Richard Moth has asked the diocese of Arundel and Brighton to give careful consideration to the renewal that is required for 'mission-effectiveness'. Many helpful suggestions will emerge from discussion across the diocese. What I want to suggest here is that we look more deeply at the barriers to mission, which I read as synonymous with evangelization, and avoid simply implementing suggestions that are unchallenging.

Apart from Vatican II documents there are two other major post-synodal apostolic exhortations that explore and explain evangelization. Paul VI issued Evangelii Nuntiandi (EN) (Sharing the Gospel) in 1975 and Francis issued Evangelii Gaudium (EG) (the Joy of the Gospel) in 2013. In these two documents, we find broadly similar analysis although the later document is more radical in its language. Evangelii Nuntiandi sees three distinct areas for evangelization. The first is personal renewal by all the People of God. The second is a renewal of the Church itself, because it is always in need of being purified (Lumen Gentium LG8). Thirdly there is a need for an in-depth conversion of our culture because we are profoundly linked to it (EN26). We tend to interpret our faith within the context of our culture. If it is hostile to religious belief, then that represents a significant challenge.

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