The Old Evangelization – Eric Sammons – How to Spread the Faith Like Jesus Did
This book is a brilliant read. Eric writes in such an engaging manner that once you start reading you will have a hard time putting the book down. The main premise of the book is that the personal touch is the best method for lasting evangelization. Eric writes extensively from personal experience; both his experiences evangelizing from within and outside of the Catholic Church. This book is called the Old Evangelization because; it uses Jesus as the main example. It takes the way that Jesus’s ministry worked and translates those into examples that can be tools for us to use in our own life. It does this with plenty of personal and ministry team examples.
Part of the description for the book states:
“It seems like every day somebody comes out with a new trick for bringing people into the Faith. Mixing pop psychology with spiritual fads and marketing jargon, these techniques seem to last only until the next big idea comes around. And despite their hype, they usually don’t win many souls.
As a diocesan director of evangelization, Eric Sammons saw a lot of these trends come and go, without bearing fruit, until one day he finally had enough. If we’re serious about spreading the gospel, he thought, the first place we should look is to the original master evangelist: Jesus himself.”
And that is really the greatest strength of the book. Eric’s examples of things that have worked well, and also some tat did not go as planned. By using Jesus as the blueprint Eric gets to the heart of the matter. Because of that Christ centered focus the Sections in this book are:
Introduction: An Evangelizing Man
1 Jesus Commands His Disciples to Evangelize
2 Jesus Teaches the Value of Prayer
3 Jesus Does More than Welcome Others
4 Jesus Sometimes Fails to Bring About Conversion
5 Jesus Makes the Impossible Possible
Joining the Battle
6 Jesus Confronts the Devil
7 Jesus Refuses to Tolerate Sin
8 Jesus Doesn’t Water Down His Teachings
Being a Truly Catholic Evangelist
9 Jesus Proclaims the Fullness of the Faith
10 Jesus Brings About Repentance
11 Jesus Arouses Our Reverence
Conclusion: Jesus, Model Evangelist
About the Author: Eric Sammons
This book begins with these words from Eric:
“If you’re reading this book, you’re interested in evangelization. Perhaps you know that Christ commanded it, but you have no idea how to do it. Perhaps the thought of it makes you nervous, or even downright terrified. I’m here to remind you that evangelizing is an essential task for Catholics, and our Lord never gives us a task we can’t perform. You don’t need a degree in theology, and you don’t need to be an eloquent speaker. You just need to have a love for Christ and a desire to tell others about him.”
And the rest of the book goes on to explain how to do that. One of the paragraphs in the book that I believe is central to the book and to Catholic Evangelization states:
“When it comes to evangelization, many Catholics feel insecure when they compare themselves with Evangelicals, whose very name declares their desire to bring people to Jesus. So we borrow their methodology, thinking we’ll just stick the “Catholic stuff” in at the end. This approach is fundamentally flawed. It assumes that Catholicism is merely “Protestantism Plus.” But in fact, all that “Catholic stuff”—including doctrines such as the Eucharist and the perpetual virginity of the Mary—is essential to the Christian faith. How, for instance, can one teach about Christ’s passion and death without teaching also about our participation in that passion and death during the Mass? Reception of the holy Eucharist is not incidental to the Christian life—it is indispensable: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53). Doctrine matters.”
And as Catholic’s that last point must remain central. Doctrine does matter and we cannot water down the message to the point that it is no longer the Good News. We must be prepared for failures, for people who will not respond, maybe even people who will respond negatively. The results are not up to us. But our obedience is our responsibility. This book concludes with these words:
“We too have been called to convert the world. Like Jesus, we may never travel much beyond our birthplace, and may never interact deeply with more than a few hundred people. Yet if we model ourselves on Jesus, we can have a life-changing impact on those around us.
You have a circle of influence—your family, your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers, even the people you bump into regularly at the grocery store. You can use this influence to direct people toward Christ and his Church, or you can use it to direct people away from them. If you follow the example of Jesus and the principles of the great Catholic evangelizers of the past, as outlined in this book, you can have as profound an influence as Christ’s first followers, who transformed a pagan culture into a Christian one and saw countless souls turn away from the path of destruction to the path of eternal life in Jesus Christ.
Now let’s get started!”
So pick up the book, give it a read and get started.
In the past year I have read 28 books from Catholic Answers. They have so amazing books for helping you understand your faith, and to be prepared to share it.
Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2017 Catholic Reading Plan!
Books by Eric Sammons:
Holiness for Everyone: The Practical Spirituality of St. Josemaria Escriva
Who Is Jesus the Christ?: Unlocking the Mystery in the Gospel of Matthew
The Old Evangelization: How to Spread the Faith Like Jesus Did
Be Watchful: Resist the Adversary, Firm in Your Faith
The Jesse Tree: An Advent Devotion
Bitcoin Basics: 101 Questions and Answers
Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue
Other reviews of books from Catholic Answers.