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Two Absolutely Wrong Ways to Elevate a Conversation While Evangelizing

Updated: Aug 8, 2021


The thing I hear most often from fellow evangelists (Catholics just like you actually) who want to know how to get started with others in real time is, "How do I get the conversation started so that we end up talking about faith?”


And they are asking this because they know from experience that it is far too easy to come across as pushy or too timid when trying to steer the conversation this way.


Like the overbearing salesman who basically just wants to make the sale, some Catholics can be pushy and turn any topic or innocent comment presented by the other as an immediate launching pad—and that never goes well.


Neighbour: “Hey, how are you doing, neighbour?”

Catholic: “Feeling great in the Lord! He does wonderful things, doesn't He? I can only imagine the beautiful things He is doing in your life?”


Is the intention a good one? Yes.


Does the Lord do great things in our lives? Of course.


Should we be excited about this? Absolutely.

When a person gets the impression that really all you want to do is talk about the Lord ... it is not very difficult for them to conclude that you don’t really care about where they fit in with it all.

But all we have done here is sent a message, and unfortunately it is the wrong one. Let’s take another example to make this a bit more obvious.


Coworker: "Hey, did you see the game last night? It was something else!"

Catholic: “No, I was saying the rosary with the family. You know, it is amazing how much it helps me cope with the hard days.”


Again, we could ask similar questions.


Is the Catholic’s intention a good one? Yes.


Should we be saying the rosary? Of course.


Should we want to share how the rosary provides grace and consolation in our daily struggles? Absolutely.


But we still send the wrong message.


Why do I say that?


Because the Catholic’s comments about the Lord working in our lives and the grace and consolation given to us when we say the rosary could have been said no matter what preceded it.


And that's what others pick up on.


Others get the feeling that they were not really a part of the conversation. It’s almost as though they could have said anything and the Catholic’s response would have been something similar.


Neighbour: “Hey, great looking garden. Sometimes I wonder how you do it.”

Catholic: “It’s the Lord! He does wonderful things, doesn't He? I can only imagine the beautiful things He will do for you if you let Him.”


Coworker: "Hey, did you hear what the boss said to all of the staff? I won’t be surprised if he loses half of us just from the stress he is bringing our way."

Catholic: “Yeah I heard. But that’s why I make sure to say the daily rosary with the family. It’s amazing how much it helps me cope with the hard days.”


When a person gets the impression that really all you want to do is talk about the Lord, or His grace, or salvation, it is not very difficult for them to conclude that you don’t really care about where they fit in with all of it.


There is something else just as unproductive.


Just as we can be too pushy, we can also be far too timid.


This is when we are given natural and normal openings to speak about our faith … and we just don’t take them.


Neighbour: “Hey, sorry to bother you but I’m heading off to New Jersey for a couple of days to help my sister. Would you mind picking up my mail for me while I’m gone?”

Catholic: “Not a problem. That’s what neighbours are for.”


Can you see the natural opening that was missed?


Let’s try another one.


Coworker: "Hey, did you see what the boss did right before he spoke to us? He crossed himself like some of the baseball players do. I wonder why he does that?"

Catholic: “Hmph, I didn’t notice.”


Here again the natural and normal opening was missed. After all, the other is bringing up a matter in which the issue of faith, and grace, and prayer would make complete and utter sense.


Look at it this way.


When the other is presenting a puzzle to us where the only missing piece is the faith, then it is normal, natural even for you to fill in the missing piece if you have it.


Neighbour: “Hey, sorry to bother you but I’m heading off to New Jersey for a couple of days to help my sister. Would you mind picking up my mail for me while I’m gone?”

Catholic: “Not a problem. That’s what neighbours are for. Is she alright?”

Neighbour: “I can’t say much, but I can say that it’s serious enough that having her brother around might help.”

Catholic: “Understood. Well then, I am going to be adding her to my prayer list every evening until you get back. God always helps me, I know He will help her too, whatever is going on.”


Do you see how natural that is?


Coworker: "Hey, did you see what the boss did right before he spoke to us? He crossed himself like some of the baseball players do. I wonder why he does that?"

Catholic: “Hmph, I didn’t notice but I get it. We Catholics have been making the sign of the cross over ourselves for almost two thousand years. It helps us to remember that no matter how stressed out we are (whether it’s because we’re about to stand in front of a great baseball pitcher or because we have to do a little public speaking) that we’re always under the protection of the cross.”


Now that is normal. It’s expected even.


The response is neither pushy nor overly timid. It invites the other into the most natural next step.


And it elevates the conversation because it makes it clear that the other’s part in the exchange matters.




in Christ,


patrick

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