What is the first thing to say

The Catholic theology can at times seem very elaborate, and extensive, the creeds cover a lot of ground in a few sentences.

But in order to engage conversation with people we meet, who generally only permit a small amount of words before I would be considered a preacher, in your own personal experiences what is the best introductory statement to make in conversing your faith as a Catholic.

My pastor carries around divine mercy cards with Jesus pictured on them. And when he is out and about he hands them to people and asks…hey, do you know this guy?

There’s really no easy way to evangelize as a Catholic. Telling people to sign up for RCIA which likely cuts into their Sunday football all season probably wont sound too appealing. You have to get to know them and invite them to Church and bible studies and whatever else. Then go from there.

“I would love to include your needs in my prayers, do you have anything i can pray for?”


Thanks for the answers, my friends. I had hoped there was more experience, a wealth of experience, out there beyond the two good answers I have received. I am currently interested in ecumenism rather than evangelism, primarily because of separate recent conversations with a Hindu, a Sikh, and a Catholic.

timing is hugely important. Then I think, if timing is right, it’s best to start out asking questions

I have been recently studying how to be a more effective witness. I purchased a course from Don Johnson ministries that I highly recommend. I am still just learning the material. The first thing to do of course is to pray. Then it is usually better to listen first and ask them questions. Rather than to try and force a conversation down their throat. Then you can enter into a dialogue based on what they say while still directing the conversation from being side tracked. You could for instance ask them if they are truly happy. If they are honest they will usually say they are not.

A religion (and even atheism) is really a world view. So you are really dialoguing with people who have different world views. The goal should be truth. Since it doesn’t matter how much someone may like their world view if it is not true then it should be abandoned for the truth. Which world view better explains the data or corresponds to the evidence. Don’t get bogged down in the details or objections to the faith. You want to look at the big picture. Does your world view hold up to reality? People who change religions or their world view often do so because they realized their world view did not hold up to reality. Jennifer Fulwiler a convert from atheism tells how her atheist world view started to break down after the birth of her first child. She could no longer see how atheism could account for the love that she was experiencing for her child and in this new family she was a part of. She just knew that there was more to love than just chemicals in the brain. She started to realize there was more to life than just matter. As she dug into the Catholic world view she realized it made the most sense of reality.

At any rate asking if someone is happy can lead into a conversation that is directed to showing them that God is what is missing in their life. Personal testimony about how God has changed your life and others is important here and is one piece of evidence. Jesus is the living water that will satisfy our souls. And until a person has Jesus it doesn’t matter how much sex, cars, material things, relationships, etc they have they will never be satisfied because the world is not enough. We were made for more than this world. We were made for God. As Peter Kreeft says never trust a happy atheist. This is where we appeal to their sense that something is missing in their life that only God can fill. If all of your natural desires can be met like your desire for food or your desire for sex then what about the desire that the world can not satisfy? Would it make sense to have a natural desire for something beyond the world if that desire could never be fulfilled?

Miracles and supernatural experiences. These can be another line of evidence. Skeptics who reject miracles outright do not do so on the basis of evidence but on the basis of a presupposition that there are no supernatural explanations. It is actually difficult to maintain such a view because one has to continually deny reality in the face of ever new mounting evidence to the contrary. Constantly new miracles happening all the time for instance. Do they look at all tbese miracles and the evidence? No, they are rejected not based on evidence, but on presupposition. Famous atheists will even admit that it seems like the universe is designed and it seems like God is the explanation, but in order to justify their desired world view they must be stubborn to their presupposition.

Most of us have some supernatural experiences in our lives if we look back and reflect. Sometimes people forget them. If you ask them they may remember this one time when they had this experience. It could be a way to get them to reflect on God working in their life. As well as share some of your own.

The reason many skeptics reject Christianity is not because it doesn’t make sense but because they have sin in their lives. And, they do not want to change. And, a lot a times especially in our day and age it is sexual sin. Scripture says that God gave them over to perversion where they exchanged the glory of God for the lust of the flesh, for unnatural relations. Sexual sin is a big sin because it denies our purpose and drives a road block between us and God. These are the deeper reasons behind the objections. People do not want to accept reality as it is. They want to create their own reality. Instead of doing things according to how God created things to be, they want to do it their own way. Sexual sin represents a deeper rejection of God. Sex is meant to be a reflection of God’s love, to give ourselves as a self Gift to the other. Sexual sin is a denial of that and distorts that truth. It turns sex into an act of self gratification. It denies the purpose of who we were made to be by God.

It is usually for emotional reasons they reject God and then afterwards try to justify their decision with their reason. But, in order to do so they must deny reality as it is and make it fit with their new world view.

In my own experience if the Holy Spirit is leading the way and the person is prepared to hear what you say it is relatively easy. If not then it is an uphill battle. I had this one time where I was working on a job and someone asked me about Jesus. I don’t even remember much about what I said. But he was ready and he accepted Jesus right there. But I had this other experience where I gave this stranger a ride to his house. He was really friendly and everything but as soon as i mentioned God he completely changed. it didn’t matter what I said he would have none of it. Ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit that makes it happen. But if the person’s heart is hard to God then all you can do is pray for them. Listening to them first may give you an opportunity to speak after. But it may take years to make any head way if at all.

Just be yourself, be excited about your faith, speak from the heart-what you truly know and believe to be true- treat the other with love and respect, and let the Holy Spirit lead. And every situation is different. Otherwise it’s like a kid asking what the best “pick-up line” is-doesn’t work that way. :slight_smile:

Hi, Darryl!

…sadly, I find that the second I introduce the term “Catholic” it shuts down the “seemingly” interested party…

…other than Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons (both seem to be trained to jump through that hurdle through a default: '“Catholic” means not knowledgeable about God and Scriptures) both non-Catholics and non-Believers (unless these are openly hostile) simply refuse to engage…

…one time I was standing in the middle a sidewalk for hours… the exchange went beautifully… we ran up and down the Bible… evening fell and we were still at it… then the big no-no… ‘so what church do you go to?’

“I’m Catholic!”

End of that story!

…then there are the invitations… “oh, I’m Catholic, I’m not looking for a new/different church/group…”

…they come back with something akin to: ‘yeah, but, have you considered…’ or ‘…but just check us out, you will be amazed…’ or ‘we are a non-denominational church where all are welcomed…’

Since we are not Called to change peoples’ minds/hearts but to Preach to them the Gospel of Salvation, knowing about our Catholic Faith and giving reasons why we Believe is enough!

Yeah, we might miss encouraging others to the Faith, but if we hold to the Truth, the Truth will set them free!

Maran atha!


jchriton, even if it never turned out how you would like you may still have planted seeds. A lot of Protestants who became Catholic did so because truth trumps over how much they love their particular church. Once they start reading the early Church fathers they start to see the truth of the situation. Once they realize the Bible didn’t drop out of the sky and their particular interpretation is recent and fallible they see a need for an authority outside the Bible, which can only be the Catholic Church. It doesn’t matter how great another church is if they don’t have the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ in their tabernacle.

Hi, Carl!

I concur with you; that is why I do not worry about “catching” or converting… nor do I worry about not causing a stir… as long as anyone is willing to dialogue about Christ and Scriptures I am fully willing to share the Word!

I also set boundaries on my self so that I do not engage the exchange with a “win at all cost” mentality… if I am successful at simply exposing them to a different view… well, that could very well be the nudge that the Holy Spirit wanted to put into motion (a mind/heart in motion…); when on a verbal encounter… I pay heed to St. James ('be quick to listen, slow to speak") and when I perceive an overt attack–slower even to speak and displaying a genuine smile (thinking about Christ’s Command “your Justice must be greater”) I allow them their “take that” moment before closing with goodwill…

Ditto with circular arguments… we can very well gauge the individuals (when texting) better if we allow the argument to proceed past the impasse–but as always, quick to listen, and rather offer a different perspective than outright calling them on the argument… there are moments (and individual) which do allow for pushing just a little (like gently but sternly calling a child back from a dangerous situation)… yet, always exiting the exchange as generously as possible…

One thing I’ve learned through the years is that no matter how much guidance we attempt to offer others the same message is applicable to ourselves… and regardless of the other party’s spiritual/educational level, he/she would best remember the anger/errors displayed during the exchange… so we must allow the Holy Spirit to Work on both ourselves and those whom He has sent to us.

Maran atha!


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