“Ask a Priest: Should I Be Preaching to People?”

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Q: This might sound like a silly question, but I was wondering when I should be preaching to people. I really want to spread my faith, but what if people think it’s weird if I just randomly start talking about Jesus with them? Won’t it turn some people off? Also, if I should be preaching, how should I do it? Thanks so much! – M.T.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: Preaching normally refers to the homily at Mass and is done by an ordained minister.

If you mean day-to-day “advice,” then the best preaching is your personal example. Your charity in word and deed is one of the best ways to preach the Gospel to others. People tend to believe Christians only if they see them living the Gospel fully.

Although it is laudable and necessary to speak of Jesus, it takes prudence to say the right thing at the right moment; otherwise, people will tune out.

Try to engage people in respectful conversation and look for opportunities where you can witness to your faith. That is, look for moments when you can speak about how your faith has helped you. This is different from “telling people what to do.”

The desire you are experiencing to share your faith is definitely an inspiration from the Holy Spirit. The question you ask shows that you are not sure how to respond to that inspiration. My colleague Father John Bartunek has written a book that seems well designed for your situation. “Go! 30 Meditations on How Best to Love Your Neighbor as Yourself” explores the missionary dimension of every Christian’s life, and gives advice about how to use our words, works and witness to spread the Gospel.

Again, the best first step is your own example of charity. Work on that, keep up your prayer life and sacramental life, and the Holy Spirit will guide you to say the right thing at the right moment.

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