The toughest thing in evangelization is grabbing attention.
Time is a precious commodity. Only the urgent gets attention.
If people don’t perceive an immediate need, they blow it off. Unfortunately, that’s often what happens with religion.
Kids, job, household needs, and just surviving…those are immediate needs. It’s not clear how faith impacts life right away so it can go on the back burner and just be forgotten.
So how do you make Catholicism urgent?
Recently, I read some advice to writers that got me thinking about a way.
On writing and death
Joe Bunting helps writes about writing. In a recent post, he talked about writing and death:
“Think about the last five novels you read. In how many of them did a character die? Good stories often involve death. Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Charlotte’s Web, The Lord of the Rings, and more all had main characters who died. Death is the universal theme because every person who lives will one day die. Tap the power of death in your storytelling.”
This is really true isn’t it? Great stories involve meaningful themes like death.
I think another powerful theme is human fulfillment and the longing for a deeply satisfying life. There’s a huge New Age spirituality market that taps into that desire and captures a lot of imaginations and checkbooks.
But thinking about death comes back to life and how to live. How are we to spend our time well? How are we to act in order to make our time on earth fulfilled and meaningful. The theme of death taps into that.
Why religion gets the back burner
I think one of the reasons people put religion out of their minds is because no one thinks they’re going to die anytime soon. Honestly, who does want to think about that?
We all know we’ll die someday, but usually not in the foreseeable future. So, we don’t need to think about that now. There’s more important stuff to think about…like making enough money to actually live.
But a large portion of Catholicism deals with death and what happens after. Essentially it’s preparation for heaven and eternity.
Death and a better life
The Saints regularly say it’s a good spiritual practice to consider your death regularly. Considering your death helps you live a better life. Sometimes people wait until they’re dying to really live. Like that movie The Bucket List, they take time for the things that are most important…before time runs out.
Urgencies are usually not the most important or what we most want. They are the things that take hold of us and occupy our time.
But like the author said, we’re all going to die. Sometimes it might be beneficial to point that out to people, to make it real in their lives.
This is something I don’t really do that much. I’ve always thought it’s a bit morbid and perhaps slightly heavy-handed. But I think I’ll use it more from now on…or at least more often when it seems like the right time.
I definitely don’t think you should hit people over the head with it, but perhaps a healthy dose of final end consideration could be just the ticket. I mean, could all those Saints be wrong?
Tap into the power death in your evangelization efforts.
You might break through to people caught in the urgency of life and help them to consider a new life in God.