By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
“Sometimes, the answers and approaches we most need in evangelization are so close we can’t even see them,” speaker Andre Lesperance said, placing two fingers on the bridge of his nose. “We might do more if we paid more attention to them.”
Lesperance, a senior ministry consultant and content developer with The Evangelical Catholic, encouraged delegates of the Vision 20/20 Convocation to think about the “small things” during his breakout session “Discovering, Naming and Telling your Faith Story.” Simply talking about faith experiences in daily conversation can have a huge impact. “It almost seems a little silly … It’s not very sophisticated. Lo and behold, this is exactly what we need to focus on,” he said during the June 7 session at St. Ambrose University in Davenport.
The faith story is a tool that Catholics can pull out of their pockets at any time. “Let’s not be shy about it. Everyone has a story someone needs to hear.”
Opportunities to share a full-length faith story aren’t likely to come up, so look for chances to share snippets of your faith during an ordinary conversation, he told the group. “Tap into the personal experience, not just how Jesus is the Good News but how Jesus has been good to (you) … We can weave into our lives tiny little 10-second testimonies and then see who is interested and open.”
In forming a testimony, Catholics can take on the model of infomercials, Lesperance said with a smile. “We all hate infomercials but at the same time we can’t stop watching them. It’s not a real authentic example, but the before and after? We all want that. We all want to know if it works.” He asked those gathered to consider how a moment, event or season in their faith lives contributed to a change that made their lives happier, holier, better or more free. “Maybe you’ve had a life where you were always close to the Lord, but even with St. Therese of Lisieux, she’d be the first to tell you (that) … we’re always learning and growing.” What you share may just be a simple thing that someone needs to hear. “They need to know the Lord is in that.”
Be patient, Lesperance told the group, reminding them that “One minute can lead to 10 years of conversation.”
Some tips on giving small testimonies in daily conversation:
• Don’t just talk about yourself. Ask questions.
• Don’t make yourself out to be perfect, but don’t deny the work Jesus has done in your life.
• Be non-confrontational and winsome.
• Use the name of Jesus. It can be hard but there is power in his name.
• Avoid unnecessary details.
• Don’t be showy or flashy.