Vision 20/20: Evangelizing in small parishes

Lindsay Steele
Tyler Wheeler speaks with Vision 20/20 delegates June 6 at St. Ambrose University in Davenport.

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

Jesus had just three years to establish a church that would take the Gospel message to the ends of the earth. In doing this, he spent a majority of his time focusing on 12 people.

According to Tyler Wheeler, a pastoral associate who has led evangelization efforts in rural communities in northeast Iowa, small parishes can use Jesus’ model to spread the Gospel message. “We are aiming for a parish full of missionary disciples,” he said. “We want to reach every nook and cranny of the place we live in.”

During his presentation on evangelizing in small parishes at the Vision 20/20 Convocation in June, Wheeler shared his experience of forming missionary disciples at small parishes in northeast Iowa. He offered a plan of action inspired by the one Jesus used to form his disciples.


“We’re going to start with our goal, where are we headed,” Wheeler said at the beginning of the talk at St. Ambrose University in Davenport. “Then, we are going to look at some principles that will help us as we walk toward that goal. We are going to put some meat on the bones and be really practical, and then we’ll end by allowing you to apply that to your particular context.”

He said that one size does not fit all and there is no silver bullet when it comes to evangelization. However, Jesus’ model can be applied to all parishes, especially those with limited numbers of people in the pews, because it emphasizes the idea that even a small group of individuals can make a huge difference, so long as they have received proper guidance, support and formation.

This presentation on evangelizing in small parishes is available online via podcast at

Most of the presentations from the Vision 20/20 Convocation are available for viewing and/or listening.

Topics include: sharing faith stories; reaching out to families; evangelizing youths and young adults; evangelizing the “churched;” evangelizing in an age of secularism, atheism and scientism; hospitality; immigrant voices; and church teaching on sexuality and sexual identity.

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