Do's and Dont's in Evangelization
- Truly listen to the other person. It is more important that you really understand where they are coming from and try to meet them at that place, than it is that you find the perfect answer to a supposed question. Nobody likes a one-sided conversation.
- Remain calm. Nobody will come closer to Jesus if you get upset and show it.
- Trust that God can work in your inadequacies, because that is all we have to offer. Nobody is perfect, but we give what we have.
- Try and find common ground to build upon. Everyone has something that you can share - even if it is both being rasied in a small town, having a similar hobby, or liking the same sports team.
- Speak the truth - but for the right reasons. The best reason to speak the truth is out of a genuine love for the other person and their welfare. But, don't do so in order to prove them wrong.
- Be kind. As St. Peter says - "Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear." -1 Peter 3: 15-16
- Ask probing questions. Try to find out not only what they believe, but try to guide them to where you want them to go. This is called the "Socratic Method" of dialogue. It asks probing questions in order to guide the other person into the truth. Peter Kreeft has written numerous books using this method and they might help you get used to using it.
- Be as charitable as possible. Try to always think about the good of the other person.
- Build on the faith or goodness the person shows you. We are not in the business of tearing others down, but helping them grow.
- Ask if they have any prayer intentions and then ask if they want to pray for you right then and there. It can be a powerful witness to pray with someone.
- Invite them to join you at church or another activity. If you want to evangelize, it means being a real friend to the other person. So, a lunch invitation can be just as meaningful as inviting to a Bible study.
- Give your testimony of how God has impacted your life. This is something that another person cannot argue with - how God has changed you. We all need to see examples of God's love. Stories can do this.
- Practice evangelization by doing it. It doesn't necessarily come naturally to everyone in every situation. Don't think you need to be "trained" in order to love someone else where they are.
- PRAY! The power to convert hearts and lives is in God alone. We need to constantly be tapped into this power ourselves.
- Preach the Good News! There are a few simple steps to preaching the gospel message of Jesus (it can take many forms). Here is merely one framework that some use:
- God created us to live in relationship with Him.
- Humans broke that relationship by rejecting His love.
- We could not heal this relationship ourselves, so God the Father sent Jesus to do it for us, offer us forgiveness, and open up the chance at heaven for all.
- It is our choice to accept this gift. Jesus is offering this free gift of His love now.
- Try to win an argument. Archbishop Sheen once said "Win an argument, lose a soul." I agree.
- Allow the conversation to wander from topic to topic. Stay on one topic until you exhaust it. If you get off track, feel free to steer the conversation back to the original topic.
- Get upset. Your emotions might boil, but allowing someone else to see frustration, anger, etc. won't help.
- Allow your pride to get the best of you. Even if it seems you have no answer, know that the Church does or that you need to continue to grow in knowledge. Humility is a gift.
- Speak about what you don't know about. "I Don't know" is a great answer. But, follow up with an invitation to get together again and talk after you do your homework on the subject.
- Give up hope. Our time is not always God's time. He is the one in charge and the other person always has free will. Respect their freedom enough for them to say "no" or "not now". But, never think God doesn't want conversion even more than you do.
- Over-explain yourself. Too much of a good thing is still too much. Many believe the "right" argument or approach will do the trick and change someone's mind. Don't fall for this trap.
- Use churchy lingo. Try and explain and define your words and phrases - even basic ones you might assume others know (e.g. faith, hope, love, grace, salvation, peace, savior, prayer, etc.).
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