How to evangelize

Christian leaders including the Vatican, have agreed on guidelines.


The Vatican and other Christian representatives have issued a series of recommendations for evangelization in multifaith societies, rejecting aggressive or coercive methods but defending the right to profess, propagate or change one’s religion.

The principles were outlined June 28 in a document titled, “Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct,” issued jointly by the Pontifical Council for the Interreligious Dialogue, the World Council of Churches and the World Evangelical Alliance.

“Christian witness in a pluralistic world includes engaging in dialogue with people of different religions and cultures,” the document said. It added that while every Christian has the duty to witness to Christ, “conversion is ultimately the work of the Holy Spirit.”

“If Christians engage in inappropriate methods of exercising mission by resorting to deception and coercive means, they betray the Gospel and may cause suffering to others,” it said.

The document was the product of five years of consultations by some 40 experts in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the head of the Vatican’s interreligious council, said defining the principles was “not easy” but that the final text was important and should now be studied by Christian communities around the world.

“It’s very important that religions, especially Christianity, appear not as a source of division but a source of solidarity and communion,” he told Vatican Radio. An essential point, he said, was that witnessing the Gospel cannot be an “aggressive campaign.”

The document strongly emphasized that exploitation of situations of poverty and need has no place in Christian outreach.

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8 responses to “How to evangelize”

  1. Obviously, at some point, if the person (or people) you are evangelizing, is (are) not moved; you should heed the words of Our Lord:

    “Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words – go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.”

    Matthew 10:14.

  2. “It’s very important that religions, especially Christianity, appear not as a source of division but a source of solidarity and communion,” Vatican Radio

    “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Gospel of Luke 12: 50-53

  3. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

  4. Rudy,

    That passage is about division between those who accept the gospel and those who don’t. But that division does not occur because Christianity asks people to oppose us, but because people choose to do so on their own.

    Mark 9:50; Luke 1:79, 2:14, 19:42; John 17:20-24; Acts 10:36; Romans 2:10, 5:1, 12:18 14:17-19; 1 Corinthians 14:33; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Ephesians 2: 14-18; Colossians 3:12-15; 1 Thessalonians 5:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:16; 2 Timothy 2:22; and James 3:17-18, for example — to say nothing of the Sermon on the Mount — make it clear that Christians are to live in peace with one another and the world. We invite all to communion and solidarity.

  5. Becoming a Christian is a sign of contradiction.

    “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

    Holding hands in a multicultural rally feels good, but it does not say anything about the truth of the Gospel.

  6. I don’t think they are talking about a multicultural rally. I think it is about Christians not bad-mouthing each other as they evangelize.

  7. I think the message is to remember that we are merely an instrument of the Holy Spirit and isn’t our work which causes the conversion; that comes from the grace of the Holy Spirit. We don’t have to pound someone into submission or win every theological argument. We can simply witness the Gospel, with or without words, and leave the rest in God’s hands.

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