The Lord commanded you to sit on the couch all day streaming movies and eating ice cream.
Just kidding. He told you to get up and go make disciples!
But how do you do this? Do you go out and start threatening hellfire on every non-Catholic you meet? Beat them over the head with a doctorate-level discussion of theology?
While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to evangelization, there are certain steps to take that will increase your chances of reaching hearts (and it’s usually not the above).
Here are four effective ways to bring people into the fullness of the Catholic Faith.
1. Understand who you’re evangelizing
It’s an ancient principle of evangelization that you have to adapt your message to your audience (without watering down the truth, of course).
You wouldn’t go to a pop concert and start sharing the Gospel in Latin. Neither would you share the faith with a woman who just had an abortion by berating her. She may already feel a great deal of guilt for her action.
Learn about your listeners — their hopes, fears, pain points and level of knowledge. Yes, it sounds like marketing. And, of course, you don’t want to come off as sales-y. You’re not selling anything, but inviting people to a personal relationship with Christ.
Whatever hurt your listeners are experiencing, Christ can heal it.
2. Share the impact being Catholic has had on your life
There are times when pulling out your theological big guns can help. Again, this goes back to understanding who you’re evangelizing. You may very well convince an intellectual or non-Catholic preacher by having a rigorous theological debate.
But the vast majority of people will not be moved. They want to hear how being Catholic has impacted your life, not how many theological intricacies they’re violating.
Focus on relationship evangelization. This is usually always more effective than intellectual debate. Share concrete examples of how being Catholic has transformed your life for the better. You may awaken something in your listeners that makes them long for such a beautiful relationship with Christ!
3. Love them and be patient
This is probably the toughest part. It’s easy to become flustered when dealing with someone who doesn’t share — and may even hate — your Catholic faith.
But you have to start with loving them. Begin with love and let the intellectual part naturally flow out of this. If you start by criticizing them, they’ll shut down. Start with love, and you’ll be amazed by how many people open themselves up to the truth.
And you have to keep loving them. Conversion is rarely instantaneous; it’s usually a step-by-step process. You need to be there encouraging (but not rushing) them every step of the way
4. Above all, PRAY
This should be obvious, but it’s easy to forget that it’s ultimately the Holy Spirit who converts hearts. We merely plant the seeds. As soon as you try to take a person’s conversion fully into your own hands, you’ve set yourself up for failure.
Pray to the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Mother, and any patron saints you can think of who are relevant to your case. For example, if you’re dealing with someone living an immoral life, then St. Augustine is your man.
After you’ve done your part sharing your faith, loving, and praying, leave the rest up to God.
He is the world’s savior. You aren’t.