Evangelize or proselytize

What’s the difference between evangelizing and proselytizing?


“Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words when necessary”

Yeah. Pretty much. There may be “person” difference, as evangelize is what I do, whereas proselytize is what you, he, she or it would do.


But seriously;

Recently, the way that Evangelization has been promoted in the Catholic Church is sort of a kinder, gentler way of expressing your beliefs in the hopes of winning souls to Christ.

When I think of proselytizing, I think of the guy standing on the street corner with a bullhorn yelling “Convert or you’re going to hell!” I imagine trying to convince people to convert by telling them all the bad things that they are doing, in hopes of scaring them over to your side.

The New Evangelization is being sold as living a faithful and joyful life, and looking for opportunities to bring up faith in conversation, sort of as a persistent invitation, but trying to accept people the way they are.

I don’t know if that was overly vague, or if it made any sense, but proselytizing = angry fire and brimstone preaching. Evangelization = I am happy because God loves me, and I want to share that love with everybody!

Proselytizing - “An initial working definition of proselytism is that it is a disrespectful, insensitive and uncharitable effort to transfer the allegiance of a Christian from one ecclesial body to another.” source

Evangelizing - “Catholics tend to use the term [evangelization] to indicate proclamation of the Gospel toward the conversion of persons to Christ. They also acknowledge that evangelization is a complex process made up of various elements including the renewal of humanity, witness, explicit proclamation, inner adherence, entry into the community, acceptance of signs, apostolic initiative.” source

For sure the p word carries a negative, perhaps sinister connotation that is not carried by the e word.

Catholic “haters” would claim we proselytize, but the distinction you’ve made seems to be pretty good.


Agreed. My sister is more outspoken. She’ll engage those with the bullhorn, stating they’re creating more atheists than Christians.


Sounds good to me!:thumbsup:

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