Students discover psychological techniques to improve evangelization skills


Photo by: Audrey Battis

Psychology professors spoke about the psychology behind evangelization to students in the Gentile Gallery on Monday, Oct. 29 at 9 p.m. in a talk titled “A Psychological Approach to Relational Ministry.”

Joanne Storm, who holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, began the night by discussing the importance of the personal aspect of evangelization. Matthew Breuninger, who also holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, followed with practical tips for tough situations.

Storm explained that there is a difference between cheap evangelization and effective evangelization. While there is no formula for perfect evangelization, there are some techniques that can increase the likelihood of converting someone, said Storm.

Storm emphasized that to evangelize, a ministry team needs to look outward at what audience they are gearing toward and inward at what gifts and talents each member of the ministry team brings.

As for the audience, Storm said that ministers need to find the people who will be the most receptive to their message and gear their evangelization toward those people.

Storm also said that the presentation of the message is very important. “The more you are liked, the more they will listen to what you have to say,” she said. However, she cautioned that bad evangelization is worse than no evangelization as it can send the wrong message.

The second half of the night was led by Breuninger. He talked about practical tips in handling tough situations in ministry.

Breuninger hammered in the point that ministers of evangelization need to lean into potentially uncomfortable moments and not to let their anxiety control them when helping someone with a tough situation. “It’s not about you… focus on the other person,” said Breuninger.

He also said that a person needs to match his or her level of attention to the other person’s level of disclosure as well as learn to take the other’s perspective.

Students appreciated the practicality of this talk. “I liked how Dr. Storm talked about using strengths and talents,” said sophomore Jessica Marter.

“(It was) helpful in pointing out things I had done wrong in the past,” said freshman Jon Salmonowicz. “It helped me not to make the same mistakes.”

Sophomore Bridget Christensen summed up her opinion on the talk, saying, “I appreciate the thoroughness and intricate detail that both professors put into their presentations in addressing complex, hot-button topic issues with real applicable ways to deal with them.”

“A Psychological Approach to Relational Ministry” was organized and sponsored by Missionary Outreach.