You know the feeling. You’re talking to a friend or relative, and the conversation shifts to a topic about the Faith or the Church. They’re asking questions or making objections. But you don’t know how to say what you wish you could say.
We know what that feels like.
That’s a big reason we started CatholicMonth.ly in the first place – so learning and sharing the Faith doesn’t have to be hard for you. To supplement your apologetics box for January, we thought we’d share some tips about how to have Faith conversations with family and friends.
Here are three things we’ve learned from first-hand experience.
1. Don’t be weird about it.
Let the conversation flow naturally. We have an instinctive tendency to get defensive or critical when we talk about disagreeing beliefs. But nobody likes to be told what to think. (Or to be preached at.)
Sure, you may understand the Faith better than they do. And you may deeply disagree with them. But if you take their thoughts seriously, they will appreciate you for it.
It’s much easier to relax and talk about one thing at a time instead of piling on “what the Church says.”
Or suppose you want them to read an apologetics book. Try something like: “I read this book and it helped me answer my questions about this topic. I think you would be interested in this too.”
2. Ask good questions.
“I have to say all the right answers.” It’s a tempting thought. But it’s false.
Yes, having good answers to people’s questions is important. But asking good questions is more important.
Here’s an example:
THEM: “How can you believe in God? Science proves there isn’t a God.”
YOU: “What do you mean when you say ‘God’?”
Too often we assume we know what the person means when they use a certain word. But when we assume too much, we just talk past each other.
When you ask a clarifying question like “What do you mean when you say X?” or “Why do you believe that?” then you can know exactly where a person is coming from. That means you can connect with them personally and find out what they actually believe, not just what you assume they believe. Plus you can find points of common ground!
3. Bite off what you can chew.
When you love the Catholic Faith, you might want to take in EVERYTHING… and then try to spread that EVERYTHING with others. As a result, you can rush into conversations you’re not ready for. If you talk with someone about a challenging topic, you might realize you still have your own questions about it.
That’s why good apologists keep on learning.
So feel free to explore and ask your own questions. They’re usually the same ones others are asking. One of the best ways to help people work through their questions is to work through them yourself.
We hope these tips help you the next time you talk to someone about God, the Faith or Church teaching. They’ve certainly helped us!
Have a blessed January, and see you next month!