Last night I saw (only saw, I keep the TV on mute for commercials) a commercial featuring Billy Graham’s son preaching to a large crowd saying encouraging things about faith (there were subtitles). As an ex-Baptist, I realized that the commercial was not taking place in isolation. In
all likelihood, in evangelical churches across the nation, earnest evangelicals were waiting for that commercial to air in support of a door-to-door campaign to evangelize their neighbors, or perhaps the neighbors of their church.
Evangelism is what I most disliked about being Baptist. In fact, other than eventually figuring out we were not playing with a complete deck, I think it was the only thing I didn’t like about being Baptist. The little community church my parents attended had a great youth program, so that’s where all my friends were. My school mates were just random people who happened to be the same age as I. Introversion and lousy performance at PE is not a good recipe for happy school experiences.
But being an introvert made being a Baptist difficult. The pastor, good guy that he was, was not willing to just preach to his existing flock, which was pretty big for a little community church. No, he wanted to evangelize! He wanted his flock to evangelize, including the participants in the youth program. Ack!
At 65, most of my youth is hazy. But I still have a vivid image of knocking on a complete stranger’s door holding some evangelical material and hoping no one was home. The good news is I no longer have nightmares about that subject matter.
So when I married a Catholic and occasionally considered converting, the best part of the idea was no more guilt about not wanting to evangelize. ‘Cause everybody knows Catholics are not evangelizers. You can walk into a parish church and sit in the back row unmolested by the perkiness that drives an introvert batty.
By the time I actually converted 20 years later, I knew just how incomplete the Baptist deck was. And low and behold, Catholics need to be the evangelizers par excellence because they have the Fullness of Revelation. And there really is no salvation outside the One True Church of Christ,
so it’s on us to spread the word, so to speak.
I’m still an introvert and I still don’t go knocking on strangers’ doors. But I am riding the coat tails of a goodly number of active religious men and women. I find some comfort in that and the fact that I can offer all sorts of mundane activities (including mowing two hours everyday it doesn’t rain from April through October) for the glory of God’s kingdom, for the salvation of souls, and for my personal redemption.
Because that’s what life is for: the salvation of souls.