What is the “New Evangelization?” What is my role in it? Has anyone done any research on how we do this? The good news is: yes! Many experienced writers, priests, lay pastoral ministers, thinkers, and social scientists have been hard at work taking a closer look at what Christ and His Church are calling us to in the New Evangelization, and using the best minds and practices to take new tacks on the sometimes stormy seas of Catholic evangelization in early 21st century America. We’ve categorized what we believe are the most current and best-quality works tailored to the needs of people and parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston today. Pick a good read, and share it around with your pastoral teams, fellow priests, friends, and family. “Be not afraid!” and share the good news!
Top Reads on Major Issues in the New Evangelization:
A New Pentecost: Inviting All to Follow Jesus - Sean P. O'Malley, OFM Cap, 2011
Cardinal Sean O'Malley's pastoral letter on evangelization is filled with insight and wisdom. It reminds us that evangelization is the mission of the Church: "Evangelization involves handing on the faith to our own families; in other words, becoming mentors in this way of life to a new generation of disciples. As Saint Paul reminds us with passion, we are all called to be “ambassadors of Christ.”10 I hope, through our efforts, that together we will restore the word “evangelization” to its proper meaning. It means simply to share the Gospel, the Good News, through word and deed. That is why the four Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, are called “Evangelists.” " This pastoral letter provided inspiration to the Pastoral Plan "Disciples in Mission" Read the complete text here
Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) Pope Francis, 2013
Beginning with "The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus." , Pope Francis presents his teaching on the proclamation of the Gospel
Read the complete text here
Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus. – Sherry Weddell, 2012.
A foundational work for those teaching and learning about the New Evangelization, Sherry Weddell lends great insights to the specific tasks ahead of us in the work of the New Evangelization, most especially that “the evangelizers must first be evangelized.” Based on thorough research about trends in religious belief and practice today, as well as extensive experience, Weddell examines thresholds of conversion, how to begin conversations about the faith, and how to develop a culture of intentional discipleship in the parish which will transform both the parish, and the Church.
Divine Renovation: From a Maintenance to a Missional Parish – Rev. James Mallon, 2014.
An engaging guide for parishes seeking to cultivate communities of discipleship and vibrant, dynamic faith. Through humorous and colorful stories, Mallon challenges us to rethink our models of parish life, from membership-based communities to assemblies of disciples of Jesus who proclaim and share the good news with all peoples. Accessible and engaging,Divine Renovation turns to the Church’s many writings on evangelization and mission so as to articulate practical ways for injecting new life into our parishes.
The Story of a Catholic Parish Rebuilt: Awakening the Faithful, Reaching the Lost, Making Church Matter. – Rev. Michael White and Tom Corcoran, 2013.
Most commonly known as “Rebuilt,” this book by a Maryland pastor and a lay associate follows their path in addressing the real reasons behind a serious decline in Mass attendance and significant lack of engagement on the part of those still attending their parish. Fr. White and Corcoran re-examine many common parish practices, particularly in the Sunday Mass, and take bold new steps as they seek to create an environment that will call back those who have lapsed in the practice of the faith.
Tools for Rebuilding: 75 Really, Really Practical Ways to Make Your Parish Better. – Rev. Michael White and Tom Corcoran, 2013.
A helpful follow up to “Rebuilt,” White and Corcoran offer neatly categorized tips to re-think and breathe new life into many aspects of parish life, from the weekend experience and the sacraments, to office culture, staff, and communication tools. It’s a whole tool kit of ideas for the New Evangelization from which the reader may pick and choose for best application in the local setting.
The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic – Matthew Kelly, 2012.
In this work, Matthew Kelly explores the difference between highly engaged Catholics and disengaged Catholics, arguing that answering this question is essential to the future of the Catholic Church. “If we truly want to engage Catholics and reinvigorate parish life, we must first discover what drives engagement among Catholics.” His discovery is that there are four simple things which make that difference: prayer, study, generosity, and evangelization. This book is ideal for personal spiritual growth, or whole parish renewal.
On Parish Ministry and Management:
The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business - Patrick Lencioni, 2012.
In this work Lencioni explains how organizational health is the greatest opportunity for improvement and advantage. Drawing on his extensive consulting experience and reaffirming many of the themes cultivated in his other best-selling books, Lencioni reveals the four steps needed to achieve long-term, sustainable success.
A Pastor's Toolbox: Management Skills for Parish Leadership - Paul A. Holmes, 2014.
Parish leaders are expected to be holy and prayerful spiritual guides, great preachers, and compassionate confessors. They are also expected to make important decisions in key areas like finance, budgeting, hiring and firing, fundraising, risk management, relationship-building, and more. This book is loaded with valuable informationg, insights, and practical tools that pastors need in order to begin handling the complexities of parish management.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable – Patrick Lencioni, 2002.
In this fable about a talented yet dysfunctional corporate team, Lencioni reveals the five dysfunctions which go to the very heart of why teams—even the best ones—often struggle. He outlines a powerful model and actionable steps that can be used to overcome these common hurdles and build a cohesive, effective team. Just as with his other books, Lencioni has written a compelling fable with a powerful yet deceptively simple message for all those who strive to be exceptional team leaders.
Death By Meeting: About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business – Patrick Lencioni, 2004.
In this thought-provoking book, Lencioni writes a fable centered around a cure for the most painful yet underestimated problem of modern business: bad meetings. And what he suggests is both simple and revolutionary. He provides a framework for his groundbreaking model, and makes it applicable to the real world. Death by Meeting is a blueprint for leaders who want to eliminate waste and frustration among their teams, and create environments of engagement and passion.
On New Media:
The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops who Tweet – Brandon Vogt, 2011.
We’re in the middle of the biggest communication shift since the advent of the printing press. What does this all mean for the Church? How can Christians harness these new tools to reach out, to teach, to build community, and to change the world? Following Pope Benedict’s call to embrace the “digital continent,” Vogt’s book will guide you through this new digital landscape.
The book brings together innovators, experts, and visionaries on the relationship between faith and technology, packaging their wisdom into the definitive book on new media and the Church.
It shows not only how the Church can exist in the digital age, but how she can effectively proclaim within it.
Transforming Parish Communications: Growing the Church through New Media – Scot Landry, 2014.
Pope Francis, like his predecessors, is calling for Catholics to embrace the new evangelization. But there has been ongoing confusion about who is responsible, what it really means and what it looks like in practical application. How can we respond to the Holy Father's call, creating evangelization opportunities that help bring people back to the Church? By transforming Catholics into digital missionaries - ready and able to take the joy and warmth of the Gospel online via social media to infrequent, inactive, or ex-Catholics around the corner or across the globe. Considering that nearly every “lost” Catholic is most likely connected with at least one engaged Catholic, and that Catholics are more likely to be comfortable as digital missionaries, this book open up the possibilities for evangelization in the digital sphere with a combination of specific strategies for digital evangelization, best practices for websites, and the nuts and bolts of social media and much more.
Further Reading on the New Evangelization:
Navigating the New Evangelization – Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa, 2014.
Compiling the meditations that he delivered at the Papal Household during Advent 2010 and 2011, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa traces the waves of evangelization from the first centuries of Christianity to the present day. On this horizon where history, geography, and culture meet, he propels you toward the shores of the new evangelization. Diving into scientific atheism, rationalism, and secularism, Fr. Cantalamessa navigates through the major modern challenges that the announcement of the Gospel encounters, anchored in quotes from Scripture, the Church Fathers, Vatican Councils, papal documents, saints, doctors of the Church, theologians, philosophers, poets, authors, and scientists. By mapping out the route that evangelization has taken, Fr. Cantalamessa provides you with a compass steering you not only toward an understanding of the new evangelization, but also toward putting that understanding into practice.
The New Evangelization: Responding to the Challenge of Indifference – Rino Fisichella, 2012.
In this important book, the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, Archbishop Fisichella, explains what constitutes the great task in which he, and the Church, are called upon to propose the centrality of the family, promoting the ethics of finance, redeveloping the presence of Catholics in politics and especially urging people not to get trapped in isolation and indifference. The fact that it is called “new" is not intended to qualify the content of evangelization, but the condition and the way in which it is made. Benedict XVI's Apostolic Letter Ubicumque et semper rightly emphasizes that it is considered appropriate "to provide adequate answers because the whole Church is present in the contemporary world and with a missionary zeal can promote a new evangelization."
Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church . - George Weigel, 2014.
Theologian and Catholic writer George Weigel takes a broad view of the Church and proposes a new way of viewing and practicing our Catholic faith which he calls “Evangelical Catholicism,” not to be confused with Evangelical Protestantism. A must-read for an ecclesiological perspective on the Church post-Vatican II amidst the cultural changes of the postmodern period. Laden with scripture references and secular and ecclesial historical context, Weigel invites Catholics to re-embrace the missionary roots of the Church, and with Pope Francis, to “embody the Gospel.”
Evangelizing Catholics: A Mission Manual for the New Evangelization – Scott Hahn, 2014.
Hahn reminds the reader that “You can't keep the faith unless you give it away,” and that to be a Christian is to be an evangelizer. When the Catholic Church calls us to a "New Evangelization," that's simply a reminder to us of what has always been true. Hahn encourages the reader to evangelize, and shows how. In this this very practical "mission manual" Dr. Hahn equips you with: a guide to understanding what the New Evangelization is, and who it's really for, a roadmap that leads you to where it all happens and a simple, beautiful message to share - in words and actions. Hahn emphasizes that one need not master a new set of skills, but that evangelization is “simply friendship raised up to the highest level.”
Rediscover Catholicism – Matthew Kelly, 2010.
In this unique and timely book, Kelly proposes that Catholicism is not a lifeless set of rules and regulations, but a way of life designed by God to help each person reach his or her full potential. With remarkable insight, Kelly dispels dozens of the myths that surround the rejection of Catholicism today and provides a profound and practical vision of what will lead the Catholic Church to thrive again in the future.
The New Evangelization and You – Greg Willits, 2013.
Greg Willits is passionate about helping you share your faith. He's explored all kinds of ways to reach out, and he's learned a lot about what works and what doesn't. The New Evangelization and You: Be Not Afraid encourages Catholics everywhere to first know their faith, and then to live it and share it authentically with others. Willits includes three practical lists of 52 ways each to know, live, and share your faith, one for each week.
The Strangest Way: Walking the Christian Path – Rev. Robert Barron, 2002.
Is Christianity a bland, domesticated religion, unthreatening and easy to grasp? Or is it the most exotic, unexpected, and uncanny of the religious paths? For the mystics and saints -- and for Father Robert Barron who discovered Christianity through them -- it is surely the strangest way. "At its very center," writes Fr. Barron, "is a God who comes after us with a reckless abandon, breaking open his own heart in love in order to include us in the rhythm of his own life.” In this book, Fr. Barron lays out three basic paths of the spiritual life: Finding the Center; Knowing You Are A Sinner; and Realizing Your Life is Not About You. He also provides practical approaches to enhance your journey along these three paths.
The Little Oratory: A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home. – David Clayton and Leila Lawler, 2014.
Clayton and Lawler aim to answer some basic questions: “how can I be Catholic in between the times when I am worshipping in church,” especially in the home? “How can I live a unified life of faith?” Centered around creating a place to pray in the home—a “little oratory”—the book delves into the many practical ways families and individuals can live out the liturgical seasons, pray together, and benefit from the Church’s treasury of prayer traditions, enlivened by a connection to Christian sacred art and music.
Something Other than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It - Jennifer Fulwiler, 2014.
This is the profound Christian conversion story of one successful, and seemingly happy atheist woman, whose material success belied an inner darkness. Asking the unflinching questions about life and death, good and evil, led Jennifer to Christianity, the religion she had reviled since she was an awkward, skeptical child growing up in the Bible Belt. Something Other Than God is a poignant, profound and often funny tale of one woman who set out to find the meaning of life and discovered that true happiness sometimes requires losing it all.