When it comes to sharing the faith, it does not matter how much knowledge we have. If we don’t have the ability to share it in a way that will make people listen and in a way that will convince people and help them to come closer to Jesus and to the Church and not push them farther away, there is no point in evangelizing.
So, in this article series, we’re going to be giving you the 10 top Dos and Don’ts. What to do when you evangelize and what you should do to bring people back to the Church and to help people understand. On the other hand, what you shouldn’t do, which will only push them away and push them farther away from God.
These points are so crucial. I have been evangelizing and doing apologetics for over 20 years, and some of these lessons I have learned the hard way.
I have come to bring so many people back to the Church, by God’s grace, because he taught me to do it the right way. And what he taught me, I am going to teach you. And if you would like to find all of these tips that we’re going to give, you can find them in the back of our book: Why Do You Believe In God?
What most people who share the faith weather online or in person don’t realize, is that it’s not just what you say, but it’s how you say it. It’s not what you know, but how you present what you know. These are two equal halves, two equal parts, both of which you need. If you have knowledge, but you’re a jerk about it and you’re mean about it, and you’re sassy and you’re rude, nobody is going to want to listen to you. You’re not going to draw any people closer. And in fact, it’s probably true that you’ll push people farther away. Because you’re not doing what Christ wants and you’re not doing it in the way that Christ wants. So, these tips will help us to bring people back to the faith.
And we have to realize, right off the bat, that evangelization and apologetics is a cultivated art. It takes time to learn and to grow. Most people don’t even want to do this because they fear failing. They fear that they’re not going to be good enough. They fear that they’re not going to know enough. And this is a form of pride, where we think converting people or sharing the faith is all about us! It’s not, it’s all about Christ. It’s his work. It’s his grace, working in and through us, and we are just the windows that lets the light through.
In fact, we don’t do that much at all. It’s all his work and he does the heavy lifting. And if you are the one trying to do all the heavy lifting and you’re getting angry and frustrated and beating your heads against walls, and thinking other people are stupid idiots for not listening, then you’re not letting Christ do enough of the heavy lifting. And it’s our pride that’s trying to convert people, rather than just plant seeds, and let Christ do the rest.
We have to remember that evangelization is not about winning or losing arguments. It’s about winning souls, caring for souls, bringing souls back to Christ, and this is a cultivated art that takes time.
It’s about trial and error, and practice, and success and failure. Running away and not having the answers and saying, I have to go look it up, and coming back. But learning from that and growing better, cultivating those arguments, fostering them more and more, and making them pristine, precise, and effective.
So here we go with these tips that I think will help you very much.
Tip #1: One of the most important Dos you can follow is to have a testimony, a 30 seconds to one minute testimony, of what God has done in your life. How he has changed your life, why your life is better because of God, because of Jesus Christ, because of your faith. Where were you before your faith? How did Christ make your life better ever since?
I share my testimony often with people, and it gets through a lot more effectively, many times, than just apologetics arguments, or giving facts or quoting the Bible anywhere. Any time we can share our story of how God has changed our life and that makes people think, and then of course we pray and we water those seeds.
Tip #2: The second thing you want to do is pray before and after you evangelize people. Because it’s not about us. It’s not about us, our own powers, our own work. It’s all about Christ. And if we’re not praying, and we don’t have a prayer life, and we don’t have a good relationship with God, then what are we doing?
We’re trying to evangelize him and his kingdom but without him? It is impossible to evangelize effectively or to please God in your evangelization efforts, If you don’t have a relationship with him first, you can’t do his work without him. He is the power behind all of our evangelization efforts. He is the grace and the spirit behind the effectiveness that we have. No God, No success.
Tip #3: The third tip we give is so crucial. We have to not only listen to people, but to understand what they’re saying. This is very much absent many times online. People just yell and scream at each other, and yell louder and scream louder, but they don’t take time to listen to where the other person is coming from or try to understand the point they’re making.
This is absolutely crucial. We need to understand where they’re coming from, because a lot of the arguments that they’re making are not their real problems. So, we don’t just listen with our ears, we listen with our hearts. Listen really close to what they’re saying. Many times, they’ll attack the Catholic Church for the sex abuse scandals, or the Crusades and the Inquisition, and you’ll see these people just go down the line of all these bad things against the Church, but they don’t have a real problem with any of these things. They’re just using it as ammunition because they’re angry. They were hurt by someone in the Church. Maybe they were scandalized, maybe they had their feelings hurt and they’re just angry and they’re venting on the Church. But if we don’t listen well, and we’re not really listening with our heart and with the spirit, we are going to think that they’re mad about the crusades and the inquisition and all these other things that they’re not mad about.
I got into a 45-minute discussion with an atheist about all of these things before he told me finally that he doesn’t care about any of these things. He said, Bryan, do you want to know what my real problem is with the Church? Yes, there we go. Unless you really listen, you’re not going to get to the root of the problem. You’re only going to be picking leaves off of a tree of what you think their issues are. And unless we get to the root of what the real issue is, we will never bring people back to the faith. We will never bring people back home to the Church and we will never answer their questions to their satisfaction.
Tip #4: It is a Do one. This is an advanced technique that works wonderfully. It’s one of the best recommendations that I can give you. It is to ask questions. Learn to ask questions: This goes back to the tip of trying to understand where people are coming from.
When Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons come to me at my house, I don’t evangelize them right away. I try to ask many questions and understand where they’re coming from. I ask, Oh, how about this? Oh, but what do you believe about that? And eventually, their answers start not holding up, and you start finding faults in them and little cracks in their reasoning. And then you question those, and eventually they back themselves into their own corner. So many times, asking questions is the most powerful form of evangelization.
I had Mormons come up to me once and they said The Crusades were evil. The Catholic Church is evil. They just went around killing a lot of people. I said, really? I said, what year did that take place? They had no idea. They just looked dumbfounded when I asked the question. I said, who was the Pope during the time? They had no idea. I said, what were the historical circumstances taking place that led to the Crusades? And they both just looked at each other and they shrugged. And I said, it sounds like you hate something that you don’t know much about. And just by asking these questions, I not only showed them that they didn’t know anything about the topic, but I didn’t even need to answer their objections. They realized that they didn’t know what they were talking about, and they needed to go do more research.
Another example would be:
You have your truth. I have my truth. All truth is the same.
Me: Really? Why do you believe that? They’ll say, well, all religions are basically the same. I’ll say, really what about Satanism and Christianity, are those the same? Or what about Judaism and a Mormon polygamous cult that hurts people? Are those the same?
No, not those.
Me: So they’re not all the same? So, what do you really mean by that?
So, by asking really good questions, you not only help people to see the errors and flaws in their way of thinking, which is so needed today, because people do not think about their arguments very deeply nowadays. But you also, will make them think much later on, and it will give you the opportunity to then go on to answer the things that they don’t understand. But unless you get them to realize that they don’t know what they’re talking about, or their argumentation is flawed, then it doesn’t work out.
One more example:
You Catholics worship Mary.
Me: Really? Why do you think that?
Well, because you pray to her and the Bible says, only to pray to Jesus.
Me: We do pray to Jesus, but we also ask Mary to pray for us as well to Jesus. Don’t you ask your friends in your family to pray for you to?
Well, yes, but that’s different.
Me: How is it different?
So, you see that I ask a lot of questions and it’s really an effective strategy. It takes practice and it takes time. But once you learn this, it’s one of the best evangelization techniques you can use.
Tip #5: The next tip is to find common ground, and this should be done toward the beginning. I used to do street evangelization and I remember we were seven Catholic missionaries and, in the distance, we saw seven Mormon missionaries. And I looked at my Catholic friends and they all got really big eyes like, let’s go get them.
And I really felt in my spirit a resistance to that statement. It’s not about going to get them, it’s about evangelization. So, I went up to the Mormons and I said: You know, we have a lot in common? We both believe in this, and we both believe in that, etc. I also asked them also to share with me a little bit about how Jesus came into their life. And they asked me to share about how Jesus came into their life. And we both shared stories and things that we had in common. And they said, you know what? You are the first nice Catholic we’ve literally ever met.
Thank you for being so nice and thank you for sharing your faith. I didn’t need to do much, but I gave them a better example of Catholicism than they’ve had because up to this point, they had been totally closed off to it because everyone was so mean to them or judging them or calling them stupid or what not. And so, they weren’t open to it,
I gave them a good example and we had a great conversation and I prayed that God would water those seeds. So many times, when we talk to Protestants who are not in our faith, we have so much more in common than not, and we could share our love for Jesus, our love for the Bible, our love for, and desire for Heaven, and so many more things.
Finding this common ground and maintaining a healthy respect for that other person, will help us to be able to discuss the differences more frequently, more effectively, and more charitably.
Tip#6: This leads us to our next point of being humble and admitting when you don’t know an answer, and saying I have to go look up the answer. I’m not sure about that. You know what? I’ll get back to you. That’s okay. You don’t need to have all the answers. I’ve brought people down to the Catholic Church and I have not done a good job sometimes. I have not had all the answers. But God works through you, which is another tip of why you have to have that prayer life because it’s all God’s power.