One thing I can tell you is that my faith life did not develop itself. I had a good group of friends that accepted me and helped me grow but looking back at my journey, the people that inspired me the most were my adult youth-group leaders. To this day, they are my Christian role models and I will never forget the love they showed me. It was palpable, real, and a relationship I actually felt excited about. They showed me–through their everyday life–how to be a Christian.
Interestingly enough, a recent youth ministry survey indicated that teens were most influenced by their relationships with adult Christians and parents. The survey emphasizes that teens matured the most when they created relationships with adults who lived out their relationship with God in a very real way. Rick Lawrence, author of What Really Impacts Kids’ Spiritual Growth, writes,
these people were impacted most by the tiny, nondescript things adult and teenage Christians did for them. They were most powerfully influenced when other Christians revealed a kind of spontaneous Christ-likeness in the context of relationship. It wasn’t the well-planned, well-presented teaching on Colossians that changed their life. It was the tears welling up in their leader’s eyes when he listened to their struggles. And 20 years later, they still remember those eyes and those tears.
While some of these surveys and authors were not Catholic in language. They were certainly Catholic in spirit. This is the heart of the New Evangelization. We must be witnesses who live out their faith in a bold way. We need to reveal a “spontaneous Christ-likeness” to every person we encounter.
One of the most powerful quotes often associated with the New Evangelization is:
Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses. — Pope Paul VI, Address to the Members of the Consilium de Laicis (October 1974)
The medium is the message. If we want to share the Gospel… we must be the Gospel.
And this is the beautiful challenge of the New Evangelization.
just my random thoughts…