This article is published here on North of the Clerical Collar with Mark's permission.
by Mark Gilbert
Large numbers of Australians still attend a church service at Christmas, at least half will attend a Catholic service. At the same time families, neighbors and friends spend more time together over the Christmas / New Year period in a variety of different contexts. This makes Christmas a great time to have evangelistic conversations with Catholics. Here are a few tips to help.
Tip 1. Ask about what the priest said at the Christmas Mass and then share about what your minister said (hopefully the Gospel).
Tip 2. Visit your Catholic family member's Christmas service and invite them to yours. By the way, they are more likely to go to yours if you offer to go to theirs. When attending Mass I usually participate in the first part - the Bible reading and reciting the creed. (called Liturgy of the Word). I don't pray publically with Catholics because it portrays a unity I don't want to express. I also don't get involved in the second part of the service (called the liturgy of the Eucharist) because it is idolatry. Because of this I don't stand, kneel or even join with them in saying the Lord's prayer, and I certainly don't go up and receive communion. I just adopt a humble posture and pray for those in the room. Don't worry, there are lots of non-Catholic visitors at Christmas time and you wont be the only one.
Tip 3. It is likely that at some stage during a conversation about Church over Christmas that someone will make a statement like, "Well, we're all the same really." This is the line the Roman Catholic Church is promoting heavily from the top down at the moment. This provides us with a great opportunity to share the Gospel by saying something like,
"That's an interesting idea, I always thought that Catholics believe that good people go to heaven, is that right? Did you know that Protestants believe that only bad people go to heaven? That's a bit of a difference isn't it?"
Then laugh and make light of it. It is Christmas after all! They will almost always ask what do you mean that bad people go to heaven, and then you can explain the Gospel. Works almost every time!
Tip 4. Pray before every social gathering that God will give you the opportunity to share the Gospel with your Catholic family, friends and neighbors and see what he does, at least you'll be ready if he gives you the chance.