Etiquette might seem like an unlikely thing to consider when talking about evangelization; however, it can have a huge effect on the success of your evangelization efforts. Etiquette essentially means following the conventional norms of polite society. We teach our children to say “please” and “thank you.” We try to teach them not to be rude; not to call people names. We try to teach them to be kind.

This is also important in your evangelization efforts. Whether you are helping out with your church’s evangelization efforts at a booth at a festival or if you are evangelizing with an SPSE team at a local farmer’s market, the most important thing is to be friendly, to be polite. You want to be noticed, but for the right reasons. Most of us are familiar with the soap box “preachers” who yell at passersby, condemning them all to Hell. That’s not our style. That’s not the way Catholics evangelize. It’s also not very effective.

When St. Paul Street Evangelization was founded in 2012, the goal was to provide the tools and resources to help Catholics engage the culture in a simple, non-confrontational method of evangelization which involves making themselves available to the public to answer questions about the faith and to pray with those who request it.”

Keep in mind that the purpose of evangelizing is not simply to get more people to join your parish church. The real purpose is first of all to share with others the Good News of the Gospel and to help them find truth and meaning in their lives. Secondly we try to overcome some of the myths and misconceptions that so many people have about the Catholic Church.

When you are talking with non-Catholics about the Church, be positive and optimistic. This is NOT the time or the place to air any grievances you might have about the Church in general or to lament the growing number of Catholics who have fallen-away. You are there to witness to the good things the Church has done in your life as well as the good things it can offer to everyone’s life.

If the person you are evangelizing has had a bad experience with the Church, don’t tell them they are wrong for feeling the way they do. Instead, simply tell them that you are sorry for what they went through. If they are still hurting, ask if you can pray for them.

Many evangelization encounters are brief, but there are times when longer conversations take place. Such conversations are personal. When we share our own testimony, we are breaking down a wall between us and the person we are evangelizing. As we break down that wall, a relationship begins between us, and trust begins to form.

Keep this important relationship in mind when you are evangelizing with others. If a fellow evangelizer is engaged in such a conversation, it is usually wise not to join in. Although you might speak up with the best of intentions, believing that your comments would be helpful, you could unwittingly negate the progress the other person has been making in a still fragile relationship.

If you do join a conversation, try to be aware of any tension your presence might create, and if you sense there is, then quietly step back. Your presence might disrupt the intensity of the conversation.

Another “etiquette” to observe is simply common sense. Be friendly. Be genuinely interested in what the people you meet have to say. Don’t argue. Don’t be judgmental. This is not the place to debate the sensitive social/moral issues of our day. And remember to smile. Pope Francis says that an evangelist should not look like they just came back from a funeral!

And finally, don’t do all of the talking. Nothing is as exhausting and off-putting as listening to a non-stop monologue on any subject, even when talking about the Church. A back and forth dialogue is much more effective. You are also more likely to learn what their questions and concerns might be.

To learn more, go to the St. Paul Street Evangelization website: