Father Robert Barron, Chicago’s TV/new-media priest, offered tips on sharing the faith in a recent Our Sunday Visitor interview.
"First, you must have a relationship with Jesus Christ. To evangelize is not just to share ideas — any theologian or historian could do that. It’s to share a relationship, and you can’t share what you don’t have. Therefore, you’ve got to be in a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
"Second, and this is piggybacking on Pope John Paul II, you’ve got to be a person of ardor. … If you’re not excited about your message, you won’t communicate it effectively."
Third, he said one needs to know the historical Jesus. "When you abstract Jesus from Israel, you get the bland, spiritual teacher, the contemporary guru-Christ."
Then he pointed to knowledge of culture: "Fourth, you’ve got to know the culture. Here is Karl Barth’s famous image of the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. When Pope John Paul II called for ‘new expressions,’ he was looking for new ways to express the faith to a secular society that has grown rather cold to the Gospel and that has lost a sense of the transcendent."
Next, comes tradition: "Scripture is the heart of theology, yes indeed, but as Blessed John Henry Newman said, it ‘unfolds across space and time.’ It’s like a great river that continually broadens and deepens. We know Christ better because we know him through Augustine, Aquinas, Newman, Chesterton and through Michelangelo and Dante. To know the great Catholic theological and artistic tradition is key to being a new evangelist.
"Sixth, you’ve got to have a missionary heart. I told my Mundelein students, ‘It should bother everyone in this room that 75% of our own Catholic people are not going to Mass.’ … These are souls who are in serious trouble. And I don’t mean that simply in the ultimate sense of heaven and hell. I mean even now. There are many people who are lost, and it’s because they’ve lost contact with God."
He also said use of new media is important.