When evangelizing we ought to keep three things in mind. Those three things are summed up nicely in a single verse of the first letter of Peter:
“but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15).
“In your hearts reverence Christ as Lord.”
Evangelization without a sincere desire and effort on the part of the evangelizer to grow in holiness will inevitably be ineffective.
One may be funny, entertaining, compelling, and even moving, but without the grace of God it will all come to naught.
Pope Paul VI in his decree on the apostolate of the laity wrote “Since Christ, sent by the Father, is the source and origin of the whole apostolate of the Church, the success of the lay apostolate depends upon the laity’s living union with Christ, in keeping with the Lord’s words, ‘He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without me you can do nothing'” (John 15:5).
“Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you.”
The word used for defense in the original Greek is apologia, which is where we get the word apologetics. I can’t tell you how many people initially think that my job is to travel the country apologizing for the Catholic Church (it’s always fun to disappoint them).
Are you prepared to make a defense for the hope you have? To Atheists? To non-Christians? To Protestants?
The Catholic Church is a champion on reason. Did you know that the first Vatican council define infallibly that one can come to know with certainty that God exists wholly apart from Divine Revelation?
If you’re not yet an apologist. Here are three free resources you should look into:
www.strangenotions.com – a site containing great articles on the existence of God and the historicity of Jesus Christ.
www.catholic.com – the first site you should visit if you have any questions about Catholic teaching.
Catholic Answers Live – Catholic Answers Live is a daily, two-hour radio program dedicated to Catholic apologetics and evangelization. It’s amazing. Start downloading their podcasts. Listen to them while you’re driving to work, working out, making sandwiches (I don’t know), and start educating yourself!
“yet do it with gentleness and reverence.”
In other words, don’t be a jackass (dynamic equivalence version?). People don’t generally hold to beliefs which they know are in direct defiance of truth. They have their reasons for believing it, reasons with which, though you can’t agree, you can sympathize.
For 5 tips on how to be gentle and reverent, see my article, How to Argue Without Being a . . . Male Donkey