Evangelistic Preaching (Part 9) — Definition and Homily Development

This is the ninth post in a series on evangelistic preaching in Catholic contexts.

Putting the elements of audience, content, and purpose together to form a definition, evangelistic preaching in Catholicism is announcing the message of salvation in Jesus Christ to nonbelievers in order to bring about repentance of sin, conversion of hearts, and a decision of faith.

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On the surface, this appears to be a simple definition. Yet, many preachers who can comfortably prepare and preach Eucharistic homilies or catechetical sermons to the gathered community of the faithful are decidedly less confident in preaching an evangelistic message. Truly actualizing and embodying evangelistic preaching requires a complete orientation towards the world of the nonbeliever—a category that includes not only those who have not heard the Gospel or are not Christian, but baptized (and even fully initiated) Christians who have not made a fundamental response to encounter with Jesus Christ or who need to deepen this response—and this is no simple task.

So how do we develop evangelistic sermons?

Foundational elements of the homiletic method such as reading, listening, and praying with a text and/or topic, listening to and praying about the community, Biblical exegesis, choosing an appropriate structure, delivery, assessment, and others apply to all forms of preaching, regardless of whether it is pre-evangelistic, evangelistic, catechetical, or liturgical preaching, including Eucharistic homilies.

Beyond this general homiletic foundation, building a genuinely evangelistic homily requires intentionality. To aid in our collective rediscovery of vibrant Catholic evangelistic preaching tailored for our cultural context, I offer ten practical strategies for developing effective sermons that are authentically evangelistic in outlook.

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