Article: Sharing The Gospel According to People’s Needs And Receptivity

In the diverse landscape of people we meet in our lives, we find a wide range of dispositions towards Christ and the Church. People’s stances on faith can be classified into categories based on their dispositions.  Understanding these categories is helpful as we engage in sharing the Gospel. By tailoring approaches and responses to the needs and receptivity levels of each group, we can better announce the Kingdom of God to people from all walks of life, promoting exploration, transformation, and deeper understanding of faith.

Based on a presentation by Bishop Thomas Dowd at a CCRSO conference in Sudbury, Ontario (2023-10-22), here are some categories describing stances of people towards Christ and the Church:

  • Dishonest Hostility: Individuals in this category may outwardly express hostility or criticism towards Christ and the Church, but their hostility may be insincere or rooted in ulterior motives.
  • Active Hostility: People in this category openly and actively oppose Christ and the Church. They may engage in efforts to undermine or challenge religious beliefs and practices.
  • Passive Hostility: These individuals may hold negative views of Christ and the Church but do not actively express their hostility. Their opposition is more subtle or concealed.
  • Avoidance: Individuals who avoid or distance themselves from Christ and the Church deliberately steer clear of religious involvement or discussions.
  • Indifference: Those in this category display apathy or lack of interest in matters related to Christ and the Church. They may neither support nor oppose religious beliefs.
  • Ignorance: People in this category lack knowledge or understanding of the faith. They may not have been exposed to religious teachings or may be uninformed about them.
  • Sympathizer: Sympathizers may not embrace the catholic faith, but they have a generally positive or supportive view of it. They may offer empathy or encouragement to believers.
  • Curious: Curious individuals have a genuine interest in learning more about Christ and the Church. They may be inquisitive and open to exploring religious beliefs and practices.
  • Seekers: Seekers actively pursue a deeper understanding of Christ and the Church. They are on a spiritual journey, searching for meaning or a connection with a higher power.
  • Converted: Converted individuals have accepted Christ and embraced the teachings of the Church. They have made a commitment to Jesus and actively practice their faith.
  • Friend of Christ: These individuals are outspoken supporters of Christ and the Church. They actively embrace and practice their faith, and they have a close and personal relationship with Jesus.

Announcing the Gospel to people in each of these categories requires a tailored approach, as each group has distinct attitudes and receptiveness levels. Here are ways to engage with individuals from each category:

  1. Dishonest Hostility:

    • Approach them with patience and gentleness.
    • If possible, engage in open, non-confrontational dialogue.
    • Share personal stories of transformation and love.
  2. Active Hostility:

    • Engage in respectful debates and discussions.
    • Address objections with humility and evidence.
    • Show kindness and love in your interactions.
  3. Passive Hostility:

    • Initiate non-confrontational conversations.
    • Ask open-ended questions about their beliefs.
    • Share stories of personal transformation and the positive aspects of Christianity.
  4. Ignorance:

    • Provide resources and answer questions.
    • Offer to explain the basics of Christianity.
    • Create a safe space for learning.
  5. Avoidance:

    • Respect their desire for distance.
    • Build relationships based on shared interests.
    • Be available when they express curiosity.
  6. Indifference:

    • Discuss the impact of faith on your life.
    • Invite them to events focusing on community and service.
    • Help them see the value of religious involvement.
  7. Sympathizer:

    • Express gratitude for their support.
    • Engage in discussions about their beliefs.
    • Share deeper aspects of your faith.
  8. Curious:

    • Provide resources and answer questions.
    • Encourage attendance at church services or events.
    • Share your personal experiences and testimonies of faith.
  9. Seekers:

    • Support their spiritual journey as a mentor or guide.
    • Encourage deeper exploration of faith through study and prayer.
    • Share resources and experiences that align with their quest for meaning.
  10. Converted:

    • Encourage them to share their testimony with others.
    • Strengthen their faith so they can become friends of Jesus.
    • Empower them to become mentors or leaders themselves.

11. Friends with Christ:

    • Share personal testimonies and faith experiences
    • Pray together and deepen your spiritual connection
    • Collaborate on church activities and service projects.

To conclude, let’s keep in mind that the process of evangelization usually involves building relationships, active listening, and respecting individual choices and boundaries. The key is to approach each person with empathy, love, and a genuine desire to share the message of Christ in a way that aligns with the individual’s needs and receptivity.

Pierre-Alain Giffard

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