Hospitality and Proclamation Model
This model of parish-based evangelization focuses on offering the basic proclamation of Christianity in a spirit of radical hospitality. What does this mean, exactly?
First, the proclamation: Evangelization processes in this model focus on presenting the first gospel message of Jesus, sometimes called the kerygma, to people who have never heard it or need to hear it again.
The short version of the proclamation: God created us good, but we turned away in sin. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ to save us. Through his death, he saves us, and through his resurrection, gives us hope. He calls us now to welcome him, put him at the center of our lives, and live for God forever. This decision opens the way to eternal life and joy for you and me, and can start today with the help of the Holy Spirit.
All models of evangelization need to be anchored in this truth and proclaim it constantly, in a way best suited to the recipient’s needs. This model of evangelization recognizes that this saving message is best offered and heard in hospitality.
Second, hospitality: Hospitality is generosity to those you do not know. It is love that presumes the best of people, and recognizes our common humanity. It is going the extra mile, like Abraham when he encountered the three strangers needing refreshment. And it is absolutely essential to the practice of Christian love.
Many Christians in America don’t know how to practice hospitality because we think it is about being courteous and friendly to each other. People are usually nice to people they know. Hospitality is the test: would you be as generous to people you don’t know?
This model of evangelization pulls together a warm and accessible version of the basic proclamation with radical hospitality. Many Christians need to be taught how to do both. The following processes teach and embody this in an impressive way.
- Alpha in a Catholic Context (https://alphausa.org/catholic) . Alpha is a 25+ year old process that has had enormous success worldwide, and focuses on providing the proclamation through free meals, open conversation, and the practice of friendship. People are led through a beautiful presentation of the gospel through asking the big questions in a safe, seeker-friendly environment, led to learn how to pray, to make a commitment to Jesus Christ, and consider what the next steps are in this journey called life. It is angled through secular seekers for deeper meaning, but could have a big impact on Christians who want to remember what the heart of our faith is about. An excellent book for employing Alpha in a Catholic Context is Fr. James Mallon and Ron Huntley’s Unlocking Your Parish: Making Disciples, Raising Up Leaders with Alpha.
- Christ Life: Ministry for Evangelization (https://christlife.org/ ) is a process that is very similar to Alpha—present the proclamation through radical hospitality—created by Dave Nodar, and supported by the Archdiocese of Baltimore. There are differences, but the biggest one is that this is created as a specifically Catholic process (Alpha is ecumenical). The second biggest difference is that it builds in the second and third step of discipleship—deeper catechesis and a practical introduction to evangelization. Christlife is angled toward renewing parishes and doing outreach to fallen away Catholics. Discovering Christ, Following Christ, and Sharing Christ are also available as books for use in the process or outside the process.
- Saint Paul Street Evangelization (https://streetevangelization.com/) is not a parish-wide process but an apostolate that parishes can employ to do hospitality-rich outreach on the street (or park, or festival, or farmer’s market, or county fair, etc.). The organization provides training and support in a nimble tool that empowers people to practice hospitality and offer prayer and the gospel message wherever people are at. It is non-confrontational and serves as a quiet witness that Christians care in the public square.
One tool that St Paul Evangelization Institute offers that may be of special interest to parishes and schools is a one day Hospitality Training. All people who have contact responsibilities in any form are invited to a day of deep learning and practice of what it means to practice Christian hospitality with everyone we meet. More information on the “Entertaining Angels” training day here.
Alpha in a Catholic Context