When not tapping stories and articles out of my keyboard, I can often be found moderating a Catholic social networking site. It provides me an opportunity to serve, but in true (??) fashion, I get back 100 fold from what I give. Besides meeting many interesting people, I have been challenged in my faith – to know it and be able to answer for it, as well as to live it out every day.
We often have visitors who want to know more about Catholicism or think they can educate us out of the Church. Both situations usually garner enthusiastic response from our regulars, and from them I have learned a lot about evangelization/teaching/reaching out on matters of faith. Here are five of the best tips I’ve picked up:
Focus on love and hope, not doom and gloom. Be joyful! Show the curious and contentious an example of a life fulfilled in faith.
Speak simply. Leave erudite theological concepts for fun dinner parties at home. Don’t err on the other side though, and assume no knowledge at all. Speak plainly. Say what you mean without leaning on pat phrases which are our short hand cues when speaking with other knowledgeable Catholics.
Remember you are talking to a human being with their own story and circumstances. You may not see eye to eye, but they are also a Child of God whose dignity is worthy of respect. Take time to get to know them. Show an interest in the person. You are addressing the human need in them to know and love God, not to win a victory over them.
Pray. You have been given an opportunity by God to share His love. Seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, then get out of the way. Pray also for protection against attack, against pride.
Be responsible for your faith. Do you continue to grow in wisdom and knowledge? Do you know how to answer common questions about Catholicism? You don’t have to know a lot to share the faith – in fact it’s best to not be a know-it-all, but it’s important to know enough. Invest in good resource materials, and find sound websites for your own use and to share with newcomers to Catholicism.
Don’t be shy. Remember, Moses didn’t think he was equipped to speak, but God used him anyway. We all have a stutter to overcome, perhaps in the guise of shyness. If we are willing to offer our tongue to the Lord, He will provide the words. Love multiplies our efforts, and with time we will come to trust that God is always with us when we seek to serve Him.