You know, I am just as annoyed at protestants door-to-doorers as any catholic, but I have always wondered why catholics don’t do the same thing (but maybe in a different way). Is there something against in the church? Does anyone think it might help? Would it be a good idea or bad idea? Please give me reasons. Thanks.
I have two friends who have done this, going door-to-door and introducing themselves as Catholics and offering to talk about our Christian faith - I envy them their courage. The reactions, as you can imagine, vary. If they find someone receptive, though not wanting to learn more about Catholicism or accept an invite to Mass, they at least offer to pray with them, an offer most Christians accept. I think shock is the most common reaction (as in “Are you SURE you’re Catholic?”).
there are several Catholic approaches to door to door evangelization. One of the oldest is Legion of Mary. A contemporary program, and the one adopted by this diocese, in which over 2/3 of parishes participate, is Disciples in Mission.
If your parish is not engaged in this outreach, you might want to ask why, and find out if the diocese has promoted an evangelization program.
It may be that your parish or diocese has discerned that their first priority should be outreach to Catholics living in their boundaries who don’t practice, or Catholics who are registered but not participating.
Or … “Sunday-only” folks stuck in spiritual infancy. I know there’s a lot of that in my parish and reaching those people has become a priority.
I organize a door-to-door evangelization effort at my parish.Twice a year, about 50 parishioners go door-to-door inviting people to consider the Catholic Church and our parish. In the past two years, we’ve gone to about 2,000 homes.
Our approach is pretty laid-back. We ask each household to consider our parish if they don’t already have a “church home” of their own. We specifically invite them to a Open House in which they can ask any questions they might have. We also give them a small bag with information about our parish, a rosary (with instructions), and Pillar of Fire, Pillar of Truth.
My experience has been that most parishioners are little interested in this activity. They immediately think of Mormons or JWs and don’t want to be any part of a door-to-door campaign.
My thoughts on this would be that there are a few reasons. As to whether or not they’re good ones is another subject.
First I think that door to door evangelization as it is typically considered isn’t as good a fit as it is for an evangelical. Not that isn’t a fit but just not as “natural”. I say that because evangelicals usually hold to a specific event(s) as being saved. It is immediate and in some cases, permanent. This makes a single visit of an half hour to home extremely effective as a person can more or less go from a non-believer to saved in a matter of minutes.
Traditional Christianity on the other hand requires, study and a working knowledge of the beliefs that actually make one a Christian.
This is why there is often a very high turn over rate for evangelicals. They can get lots in the door but it is more difficult to keep them. Especially since evangelicals will often even encourage new believers to take on responsibilities that they really shouldn’t. This leads to burn out and confusion as the new believer is making sudden very extreme change in lifestyle, and is often not able to cope with the loss of the emotional high that accompanied their first steps into the Faith.
Another reason why I think that door to door evangelization hasn’t caught on with Catholics is history. This is my opinion mind you. For centuries Catholicism was the only Christian source in the West. Catholic nations had been Catholic for so long, that evangelization was largely just not needed for most of the Christian world.
When Protestants especially evangelicals came on the scene, they were a new religion that had a respective monopoly on Truth and so they didn’t see the West as Christendom but as a pagan land that desperately needed conversion. That coupled with a rather easy initiation made door to door evangelization rather effective for them.
Catholics on the other hand still more or less viewed the idea as unnecessary as just about everyone around them was a baptized Christian. As time has gone on though we now live a more or less “post Christian” West, and there is real need for evangelization in our back yard. Catholicism is old though, and as such I think is not as quick to swing to new trends. While evangelical denominations which are born and die from day to day still enjoy the energy and adaptability of “youth”.
I’m not really sure that door to door evangelization will ever be as immediately affective for Catholicism as it is for evangelicals, but I think it might be a good trend to get into. Just so long as we keep a Catholic mindset of real change of heart and not simply go for emotional responses.
Again this is all just my view.
You bring up very good points.
I think Evangelical evangelization can be proper evangelization, but truncated.It begins well enough, but it doesn’t finish the process.
My old professor, Dr. Hahn, liked to make this analogy:
The first step of evangelization is like dating. The person takes an interest in another person and begins to have a relationship with them.
The second step is engagement, which is analogous to RCIA. This is when the person makes a commitment to the other, and begins the process of formally drawing closer in union. But the commitment is not binding or sacramental.
The third step is the marriage, which is analogous to baptism. The person unites sacramentally to the other in a union blessed by God.
Evangelical evangelization usually ends after the first step - the “personal relationship.” Catholic evangelization should start there, but it is not completed until after baptism (and even then is not fully completed until heaven).
Great post but you should be more careful about stirring the sin of envy in others.
To: rtconstant – you are very right and I think many “evangelized” Catholics would agree with you.
In my diocese, one of the main points our Bishop would like to see improved is evangelization. Although I was born and raised Catholic, I have spent some time in an Evangelical Pentecostal church (back when I was very young and stupid) and they also make it a point to try to keep everyone excited within their church. I have seen too many cradle Catholics, and some converts, who take what we have going for us for granted and just don’t see the need to be “excited” about what we have. Before you can evangelize others, we must evangelize ourselves. Catholics need to learn more about their faith instead of just going through the motions. Then Catholics will be more open to the opportunities that present themselves to evangelize others, telling them about our faith, why we do what we do and believe what we believe. Catholics don’t really have to go door to door with all the questions and misunderstandings out there staring us in the face every day.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying all Catholics are lukewarm or uninformed but many don’t have the confidence in their knowledge to attempt to share what they have and many more just don’t think about it.
Through the Council of Catholic Women in my deanery, I am trying to light a fire under the women of my area and have found that many are receptive if they are given the right tools. They just need to be reminded of just how blessed and special we are. We also need to encourage our priests to pass that message on to their congregations.
The source of all Evangelization must be a deep rooted love for Christ and the desire to share Him with others.
Evangelization is not just for non-Christians or evangelicals but also for Catholics who have not been properly formed or won over for Jesus Christ.
Relational evangelization (face to face) works and is the best way to go about spreading the Good News. It’s what Jesus did, we should follow His model. Door to door works, but so does other methods.
One of the challenges is that going door to door, most of the people met have already decided and formed the faith relationship they are going to have. When’s the last time someone selling some product or idea came to your door and it changed your world? Why is that? - You have already formed the kind of person you are going to be, the kind of faith you are going to have, the career you are going to pursue.
Another is, you just met this person - there’s no credibility.
Whereas - if it was a friend or acquaintance - they would be more influential in your decision. You will put more stock in what they say.
One of the ways to make this even better, is to engage in this relational evangelization at the right time - when people are making all of the major decisions in their life - The college years!
Is it a surprise that we have less parishes than we did years ago? Abraham Lincoln said that the philosophy of the classroom today will be the philosophy of the culture tomorrow. 85% of college students practicing their faith before they start college stop practicing by the end of their senior year, 48% by the end of their freshman year. For our kids, these years are the years theye decide what kind of values they will hold, what kind of spouse or religious they will be, what kind of career they will pursue, etc… These are the years of the critical decade as Dr. Dobson calls it. This is where we should target our resouces.
Do you know someone who has stopped practicing the faith while in college? Send me an email and find out more on how you can stop this trend and help evangelize effectively.