1. Look for the positive intention behind the criticism. There’s often a Christian value to appeal to. Speak to it.
2. Shed light, not heat. We’re here to open doors to the Sacraments.
3. People won’t remember what you said as much as how you made them feel. “Intellectuals and theologians, beware.Erudition is the opposite of communication, which uses simple words to explain complex ideas.” “Aim for civility, empathy and clarity.”
4. Show, don’t tell. Stories are compelling. Run with what you know. Stay in your lane. “Think of yourself not as the spokesman of a remote corporation, but as a delighted disciple with stories and experiences to share.
5. Think in triangles. Don’t be distracted. Have three points and know how they relate to one another. Go back to them.
6. Be positive. The Church calls us to the fullness of life. Communicate that fiat, that Yes.
7. Be compassionate. Ready to absorb anger and hurt.
8. Check your facts, but avoid robotics. “A fact is meaningless without content and perspective.”
9. It’s not about you. It’s about Christ. It’s His Church you’re seeking to make the case for, to represent. Pray!
10. Witnessing, not winning. Reframe — challenge a prejudice or preconception. Invite conversion.
These are adapted from Austen Ivereigh’s How to Defend the Church without Raising Your Voice, published by Our Sunday Visitor.