Tactics Catholic Evangelists Should And Shouldn’t Use, by Marcel LeJeune

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By Marcel LeJeune, Catholic Missionary Disciples

I recently ran across an essay which may be one of the most influential pieces of writing in the last 30 years. I heard about it previously, but had not read it until last week. After several readings, I concluded that to modern ears, it sounds like someone is writing satire. But, it isn’t. Rather, the essay was written in 1987 about how to “desensitization of the American public concerning gays and gay rights”. What is amazing is how the strategy (and tactics to achieve the strategy) were perfectly implemented. Every single goal of the essay has come to pass. The essay was later turned into a best-selling book.

I recommend you read the entire essay for yourself and come to your own conclusions. But, when you do read it notice the clarity with which the authors lay out their argument. Also, note just how successful they were.

While I was amazed how successful they have been, I have also noticed how much Catholic evangelists can learn from this essay. Mainly, what we ought NOT do. Disciples of Jesus cannot act like everyone else. In other words, while these tactics may have worked, we cannot adopt them as our own and expect the same results. Tactics such as the bait and switch, divide and conquer, playing the victim, etc.

Rather, Jesus has given us tactics that counter the ones that are suggested in the article (and successfully implemented). Below are some of the tactics we can’t use and then ones that Jesus taught us, in contrast.

Tactics Catholic Evangelists Should And Shouldn’t Use

  1. Bait and Switch – If you have ever had someone invite you out to lunch “just to catch up” and then try to sell you something, then you have had the bait and switch pulled on you. This can happen in evangelization too. We can’t do this. We have to be honest about things. Now, having a conversation about religion, faith, etc is natural and good. The point is we shouldn’t just drop these into someone’s lap and not expect them to react negatively.

  2. Divide and Conquer (aka – Make Others Look Bad and Us Look Good) – those who oppose us aren’t our enemies. The devil and his minions are. So, we shouldn’t consider those who hate us as enemies, but as brothers and sisters who are estranged from their eternal father in heaven. This outlook can change the way we do things. If we see others as enemies and name them as such, then we will want to keep them divided from us and “conquer” them. This is a work of Satan, who is the father of lies and division among people. God is the God of unity and community.

  3. Embarrassment or Coercion – embarrassing or coercing someone to think like you is not a Christian way to try and change someone’s mind. It is commonly used today by many culture warriors who want to make those that disagree with them look like radical zealots. But, Christians cannot use this tactic. This has been used in the past by some Christians, but it is ultimately something that doesn’t change someone’s heart, but is merely aiming for agreement in outward behavior. Thus, it ultimately fails and is not about truly loving the other person.

Tactics Jesus Taught and Modeled

  1. Love and Pray for Others – this includes even your enemies. What a difficult thing to do. But, look at how many it wins over. This does not mean you have to agree with someone’s behavior or lifestyle to still love them. But, we can’t expect to reach the world if we aren’t willing to love those far from God.

  2. Give The Benefit Of The Doubt – This is a hard one to live out. I know that I struggle with certain people who have a pattern of toxic behavior. I am not suggesting that you allow yourself to be a victim of their bad behavior, but rather, try to give them the most charitable benefit of the doubt you can muster up in the motive you assign to the reasons behind their behavior.

  3. Unite and Initiate in Relationships – This is also hard, especially with people who constantly seem to want to insult, tear you down, or denigrate what you believe. But, look at it this way. Jesus went to those that were far from God. He had conversations with those who were actively trying to kill him. We too must look for opportunities to unite ourselves with others, form relationships, seek out the lost, bind up the wounded, etc. It isn’t easy, but it is what we have to do.


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