Evangelization is a huge buzzword these days. Pope Francis especially keeps telling us to hit the streets and encounter people, but most of us don’t quite know what that means practically.
So if you want to evangelize but you’re not sure how or where to begin, we’ve got 10 practical tips for you! Check out this video before we break it down:
1. Pray for people by name
Chances are, you already know people who haven’t heard the Good News! (That’s what “gospel” means, fun fact.) In your prayer time, take their names to God. God “at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.“ (Ephesians 3:20) Ask Him for opportunities to share the faith with them and trust His timing as you build relationships with them in advance of those conversations.
2. Go out into the world
Don’t just hang out in the “Catholic bubble.” Like-minded friends are important to nourish our faith, but we can never forget our duty to invite others into the family. Jesus tells us His Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19) While it’s certainly easier to spend time with other Christians, we are called to go out of our immediate circle and reach those who would never receive an invitation if we didn’t reach out. Jesus became incarnate and lived among us; we follow His example when we go out on campus and meet other students where they are, whether in class, sports team, a club, or a Greek house. (And of course, this applies to life beyond the campus, too!)
3. Be Bold
Introducing yourself to someone you don’t know can be scary. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the words you need. Have courage! It might be awkward at first, but as we like to say, “Heaven is worth the awkward!”
4. Extend Personal Invitations
How many invitations do you have sitting in Facebook events right now? And how many do you actually plan to attend? Chances are the events you attend are the ones where someone took the time to seek you out an invite you. Invite someone to an event with you! Your personal invitation might reach the person who needs a friend.
5. Share life: i.e., Be with them on their turf
Find things that you and your friends can do together, even if it isn’t something you love doing. Sacrifice your own preference to do the things they love. Evangelization isn’t just an intellectual endeavor! As you spend time with your friends, doing things they love, you earn the right to be heard. Your friends will trust your recommendations about movies, books, restaurants, etc. They will see that you live your life differently — that your joy, trust, and confidence in Jesus make you different than everyone else, and they’ll want to know why.
6. Share your story
Your story is powerful! If you’ve never thought about it before, consider writing down how you came to know Jesus. How did you decide to follow Him? Saint Peter tells us to“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for your hope.” (1 Peter 3:15) No one can argue with what you’ve experienced, so always be ready to share when someone asks!
7. Practice hospitality wherever you are
You can put others at ease with simple acts of kindness, like being the first to start a conversation or introducing a newcomer to everyone else in the group. Hospitality doesn’t mean that you have to always be the one who brings the pizza — but you could invite a quiet person to take the first slice!
8. Share the gospel with a specific invitation
Sharing the gospel is the heart of evangelization! There are a lot of ways to share the story of Jesus, but at its core, the gospel includes four main points: 1.) You were made for a relationship with God. 2.) Sin (those times when we choose not to love others as we should) creates a chasm between you and God. 3.) God became man in Jesus, and he died for your sins to repair your relationship with God. 4.) Every human person has the opportunity to have a relationship with God if they accept God’s invitation!
When you’re sharing these points with a person in a conversation, you can encourage your friend to accept God’s invitation using a question like, “Would you like to invite Jesus to be the center of your life?” If they say no, let them know you are still their friend and continue to pray for them. If they say yes, celebrate and pray with them!
9. Encounter Christ together
Your friend’s commitment to making the Jesus the center of their life isn’t a one-and-done deal. Now you can run together toward the goal: heaven! Continue to invite them to spend time with you and to come to know Jesus more deeply. This might mean going on a retreat or a mission trip, attending a FOCUS SEEK conference, attending RCIA together — and, of course, continuing to spend time together doing things you love to do.
10. Teach others to do the same
Teach your friends how to evangelize too, and do it together! Saint Paul writes, “What you have heard from me…entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well”(2 Timothy 2:2). Jesus sent His apostles into the world by reaching out to individuals who would be able to teach others. You can fulfill the call to evangelize by developing deep friendships, inviting people to follow Jesus and teaching others to do the same!