OFFICE of CATECHESIS & EVANGELIZATION
A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO EVANGELIZATION FOR EASTERN CATHOLIC PARISHES
by Anthony T. Dragani, MA, re-edited by Shawn A. Dorisian (reprinted with permission, all rights reserved by the authors)
I would like to start this presentation with a prayer from the Maronite Sedro:
By your wisdom, make us worthy / To be your faithful witnesses in the world And to be renewed in our commitment / To the Christian Life. We Praise you O Christ,Your FatherAnd your living Holy Spirit Now and for ever, Amen.
The Catholic Church teaches that the Word of Christ be brought to all persons in such a way that anyone who hears will want to come to Christ and be baptized (see Romans 10:10-17), that this will and work be known and believed. This is the mission of the Church known as evangelization and it should be the desire of all committed Christians to want to tell of their Savior 
This guide labors to present a practical strategy of parish-based evangelization. Many of the concepts utilized have been carefully selected from the writings of Protestant evangelists, who have demonstrated a high aptitude in this field. Other ideas have also been drawn from the writings of Catholic and Eastern Orthodox evangelists. However, I have only included those approaches that are well suited for the typical Eastern Catholic parish. Our parishes have their own unique strengths and weaknesses, and these have been taken into consideration when writing this guide.
In the Protestant world, much research has gone into the study of evangelization. Many Protestant scholars have become experts on the subject, and have developed it into a “science” known as church growth. Drawing on insights from sociology, psychology, and other fields of study, church growth experts have developed approaches to evangelization that yield proven results. In a very real sense church growth can be considered a true science “with theories that can be tested and proven.”
The strategy presented in this guide is essentially parish-based. For numerous reasons, denomination wide evangelization is not as effective. Ultimately, it is the quality and outreach of the local congregation that will attract new membership. Given this circumstance, what role should a Eparchial office or committee of evangelization play? It should first and foremost serve to assist individual parishes in implementing a plan of evangelization. Likewise, it should only focus its efforts on those parishes that wish to grow. Some parishes unfortunately have no desire to expand their membership. An Eparchial office would be wasting its time trying to help a congregation (and typically pastor) that has no desire for growth. Instead, the Eparchial office should only expend its energy and resources supporting those parishes that request its aid in implementing a strategy for growth.
Before proceeding, a few words of caution are in order. First and foremost, evangelization must be pursued with integrity. In no way can the theology or worship of the parish be diluted in an attempt to increase attendance. As warned by evangelization expert Peter Barna, “any church growth strategy that is geared to increasing the number of people without emphasizing the necessity of commitment to Jesus Christ is working in opposition to scriptural command.” In incorporating new members into the Church, it is crucial that the Gospel message is not watered down. Barna warns against following the example of a certain well-known Protestant “cathedral”:
A church in Southern California began with less than a dozen people attending the first week’s service. You cannot find a seat in the sanctuary today, because more than 10,000 people regularly file into the church every Sunday. But the growth of the church occurred as a consequence of spiritual compromise. People who attend that church see a good show, but they don’t hear the gospel the way Jesus proclaimed it. Yes, this church is well marketed, but it is marketed for a different purpose than to serve Jesus Christ.
It is also important to remember that there are no magic formulas for successful evangelization. Ultimately, it is not slick tactics or brilliant strategies that cause a parish to flourish, but the work of the Holy Spirit. Hence, persistent prayer must accompany all efforts.