The Roman Catholic Church is arguably one of the largest and most neglected mission field sitting right in your backyard so to speak. You do not have to look very far to find a Catholic, either church going or lapsed meaning they may have been baptized and have stopped going to church.
As a former Catholic in this mission field for the past 8-9 years I have learned many things and will share these things which hopefully will help you if are in this mission field or decide to join it.
I will use in this series the analogy of the Apollo 13 space mission of which I personally see applicable in witnessing the Gospel to Catholics. This particular mission encountered a catastrophic loss of power, and it was the job of NASA to bring the 3 astronauts home somehow.
Tip 1 – Do NOT Stand in the Way of Success
The debate is over, I repeat, over, when it comes to the Gospel. Are you grounded in the Gospel? If not, you will find your mission unsuccessful with Catholics. The Gospel is the POWER unto salvation, it needs no compromise or tweaking or appeasing or watering down, do not stand in its way of success.
Ken Mattingly, the grounded astronaut for Apollo 13 mentioned this when it came to the mission of bringing the astronauts home. The spaceship was dying, the models showed that it did not have enough power to make it home. But the mission from the ground was to ONLY look at this with success, to bring them home. So standing in the way of success would have been to just accept defeat. They didn’t accept defeat, and the mission turned out to be a success in that they did bring them home.
With the Gospel, do not stand in its way of success. It might be rejected on its face, but do not accept defeat. Keep boldly declaring it to the Catholic. It is the only power source for salvation. Altering the Gospel or watering it down to codify feelings and emotions will lead to defeat, I assure you, because you are then standing in the way of its success.
Tip 2 – Prepare for the Mission
Some believe they can enter the mission of sharing the Gospel to Catholics without preparation, and they are invariably summarily immediately dismissed by a hardened Catholic. You will need to prepare for each their standard talking points and have a prepared response to each one. If you are not aware of these talking points, you will. One for example you will hear is “not everything needs to be in Scripture for faith and practice because it doesn’t claim this”, or “we gave the world the Bible”, or “we are the church Jesus established”. Prepare prepare prepare! What will be your response?
Being unprepared in this mission is like an astronaut going to the moon without preparation for every standard warning light which would lead to a catastrophic result. They prepared for months, years, for a singular mission. The Gospel must be taken as serious and then some. The counter acting of standard Catholic talking points is quite easy if your source is Scripture and your faith is in God. Prepare yourself with Scripture and God’s leading in this to turn off those warning lights so to speak.
Tip 3 – Expect the Unexpected
To grow in witnessing to Catholics, you must always expect the unexpected with them. Why? Because Catholicism is not a unified lock in step faith. You will find one Catholic saying one thing and another saying something totally different. Expect this and be prepared, or you will find yourself lost on what to say. This is why it is important to constantly engage Catholics. Don’t treat this mission where you can come and go as you please and then expect good results.
You will find anywhere from delusional Catholics teaching things the RCC has not taught to Catholics who do not know what the RCC teaches to Catholics who actually are devout and follow the catechism and Canon Law. The latter, “Canon law” is one thing you will find hardly if any Catholic will completely follow to the letter. So it is important to remember this.
Tip 4 – Do not be a Lone Ranger
Sharing the Gospel in the Catholic mission field will involve teamwork if you want to see results. Undermining fellow workers will not lead to success nor will doing this mission without support or fellowship of other Christians in this field. Catholics are no dummies. They can discern if you are a lone ranger and will then treat you with zero respect and zero credibility of what you are saying because they will sense that your church of one is not worth listening to.
Apollo 13 comes to mind, if the astronauts dismissed the ground crew, they would still be orbiting the moon or careening off in space somewhere after 50 years. Their mission was successful in coming home solely based on a team effort, unified in one cause. They were not tearing each other down, nor were there lone rangers trying to bring them home, it was done by teamwork.
God has employed the means to His ends. He uses His children to convey the Gospel which saved them. This is done to sanctify these children, grow and mature them to the image of Jesus Christ. It keeps His children engaged and growing. Because let’s face it, if we were saved and nothing else needed to employed, there would be laziness when it would come to Scripture and learning the things of God.
Tip 5 – Do Not Disengage
The Catholic mission field is complicated, it can get nasty. The easy thing to do is disengage and leave it. Catholics will use every emotional trick in the book such as guilt manipulation “you hate Catholics”, they will call you names, they will try to put you on their fallacy merry go round. But stand firm in the face of this with the Gospel. And it is OK to fight back. Don’t fall into the trap of not doing so, or you will find yourself disengaging. Do not expect good results if you come and go into this field. Your steadiness will show a Catholic that you are going nowhere and the Gospel is not either.
Imagine if the Apollo 13 ground crew said “we had it, let’s go home” when faced with all the issues they were trying to solve. Stand firm in the Gospel, be bold, and non-compromising!
Tip 6 – KNOW YOUR ROLE
I capitalized this for one reason, I have seen the problem with some workers in this field not knowing their role. Your job and duty is solely to share the Gospel, that is your role. Your role is NOT to convert the Catholic, that would be God’s role. If you step into God’s role, the mission will be lost, I assure you. You either will become highly frustrated or disgusted in short order when your pleas for conversion today are all rejected. Trust in God to do His role if He so wills, again HE IS THE CONVERTER, you are His mission field worker. Conversion will always be to God’s timing and purpose, not to yours.
In order for Apollo 13 not to become a disaster, the Flight Director did not try to be the astronaut, the EECOM did not try to become the Flight Director, etc. They knew their roles and stayed within these to make it a success. The Gospel is no different, you can never attempt to be God in this role.
I will continue to give tips in this series as time goes along.