How Do I Convert People Who Hate the Church?

Don’t be afraid to be hated while you set the stage for God. He knows what to do.

Chris Stefanick
Chris Stefanick (photo: EWTN)

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Christians, we have the best news in human history — the love of God for us in Jesus Christ! And somehow the world has successfully rebranded that as bigotry, hate and repression. The ideal for an evangelist is to help people belong, believe and behave — in that order. But it’s hard to invite people to belong when they think that you’re a hater! So what do we do? Do we hide what the Church teaches about the issues of our day? 

Sorry, you can’t — people have Google. In First Corinthians, Paul the evangelist says some things that sound very non-evangelical. He shares how our message is a stumbling block. It’s offensive, but that was okay with him. He makes no apologies. He doesn’t tell us to water things down. He embraced the fact that he’d be hated. He wrote, “We are the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world.” And yet the Church has only grown since Paul. In the words of Belloc, “The Church is a perpetually defeated thing that always outlives her conquerors.” 

So where’s the hope? How does that even happen? How do we go on? One word — grace. As Paul wrote, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with the Holy Spirit’s power.” He didn’t rely on himself, but on God. The same Jesus that walked this earth 2,000 years ago is still knocking on hearts today, directly working in people’s lives, changing people’s lives with amazing grace. Through all the anger and misperceptions about the Church’s teaching, Jesus is still winning people’s hearts, inviting people home, and people are converting every single day. You can’t change hearts — he can!

So what’s your role in all of this? You keep loving. You keep serving. You keep presenting him to the world as he is without apology. You don’t have to make he who is Love likable. You just have to set the stage for him. Don’t be afraid to be a little hated while you do it. When you set the stage for God, he knows what to do.