The Genesis Method of Evangelizing
The Genesis Method is a simple method of evangelizing others. It provides a framework to engage people in conversation so that an opening is created to proclaim Jesus. Many people are uncomfortable speaking to others about their faith; however, this method equips and trains people to confidently evangelize in a way that is sensitive and appropriate to all people in everyday life. It was developed by Fr. Jon Bielawski and Michele Thompson, both from the Diocese of Plymouth, England. In addition, they have also created a clear model of how to create a parish evangelization team. While most parish evangelization committees tend to function as event planning groups, the teams formed by Fr. Jon and Michele exist to evangelize. They have formed and deployed numerous evangelization teams in England.
Begin by praying daily that God sends people to you and that he uses you to be an instrument to proclaim the Good News. This is a very simple but intentional step that shows your availability to God. Pray also for a thirst for souls and a deep desire to turn love into action. Be willing to go out and start practicing, knowing that some conversations will go better than others. Evaluate your interactions and keep perfecting your technique.
Engaging people in meaningful faith conversations using the Genesis Method involves the following steps:
- Connect – Be more aware of the people around you and connect with others at every opportunity; make it a new habit. Say hello, ask questions about how their doing, etc. Your everyday life is the mission field.
- Communicate/Accompany - Ask open questions. Listen for as long as it takes. Be vigilant for non-verbal clues (soul listening). Ask another question. Clarify before responding. Enter their world. Empathize with the person who is sharing their story.
- Spirit Led Encounter - Be alert for the ‘nudge’. Start a 3-way conversation between you, the Holy Spirit and the person you are speaking with. Pray silently to the Holy Spirit and listen to your friend. Wait for the words.
- Life Giving Words - Look for the positives; edify and reinforce the value of the person. Try to restore hope and give a lift to the spirit, paving the way for the Good News.
- Kerygma/Catechesis – Share the Good News of Jesus sensitively and appropriately in the context of what you have heard. The objective message is: God loves you. Jesus died to save you, rose again, conquered death to give you eternal life. The subjective message: And this is what it means for you. . .
- Explicit Prayer - Offer to pray with the person if you can. Prayer opens a new portal so that the person can hear words of healing and hope. It brings the living Lord onto his/her radar and acknowledges his power. The prayer should be simple, it should refer to the person’s situation, it should use the names you heard. Ask for the Lord to open/fill his/her heart and become known to him/her.
- Transformation - Look for visible signs of change—smiles, tears, a new light of hope in the eye, a more positive in demeanor, head lifted and sounding stronger, etc. Reinforce what you see. Ask them how they feel now? Suggest a new way forward if you can. If you see nothing don’t worry. Trust in the Holy Spirit. Acknowledge your own transformation as you feel God’s power working through you.
- Conversion - If the Holy Spirit wills it your encounter will convert someone’s heart there and then. Often times we are a marker in a journey and we either plant or nurture the seed of faith. We are not called to be successful; we are called only to do our part. Nothing done in God’s name is wasted
- Catholic – The ultimate goal is for all persons to have the fullness of truth and the means to salvation that is to be found in the Church that Jesus himself founded.
Parish Evangelization Team Formation
It is the conviction of Fr. Jon and Michele that every parish have a Parish Evangelization Team. The purpose of the team is to evangelize. The Genesis Mission offers team formation with the explicit intention that team members become “fishers of men.” The objectives of this formation includes:
Preparation for team formation includes fervent prayer and holy hours and distribution of a guidebook for the team. Team dynamics during formation sessions have an emphasis on sharing and listening without commenting or interruption so that team members practice listening and allow members to be heard, respected, and valued.
Once teams are formed, they are commissioned to go out and evangelize utilizing the Genesis Method of conversation. The team’s activity includes ministry to parishioners, lapsed Catholics, and the “Nones.” Activity includes hanging around after Mass or at parish events and engaging parishioners in conversation, getting involved in activities such as RCIA, 1stCommunion prep, and liturgical events, and creative events such as door-to-door evangelization, Night Fever, street evangelization, or prayer outreach activities.
Fr. Jon and Michele are willing to assist parishes in forming parish evangelization teams. For more information contact Michele at email@example.com.
Engaging people in faith conversation using the Genesis Method often has very fruitful results. The evangelist frequently has an opportunity to plant a seed of faith, an opportunity to proclaim Jesus, and a chance to pray with the individual. Fr. Jon and Michele cited numerous encounters that have moved people to tears and opened them up to the healing power of God. In addition, this method of engaging others yields several personal outcomes for the evangelist:
- Increased sense of discipleship
- Growth in prayer/spiritual life
- Increased devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist
- Confidence, conviction and authenticity
- Human/spiritual growth: Inhibition to freedom
- Ability to listen deeply and beyond words (soul listening)
- Fewer preconceived ideas and assumptions
- Becoming more proactive
- Explicit intention to become “fishers of men”