It is nothing new. St. Paul did this all through his missionary journeys, most famously in Greece. St. Anthony of Padua was another.
In modern times, F.J. Sheed (1897-1981) and his wife Maisie Ward ran the Catholic Evidence Guild which did just this. Sheed and his trained apologists used to stand on wooden boxes in the parks in London and debate out in the street. Patrick Madrid wrote an article about it.
Over afternoon tea, Sheed’s friend described what it was like to watch Frank manage the crowd. He worked on hecklers and skeptics and scoffers the way a chiropractor works on a bad back – probing, searching for the tensed-up muscle, finding it, and going to work on it with precision. He massaged the minds of his audiences, breaking down hardened prejudices against Catholicism, kneading the “God does not exist!” arguments until they crumbled, and showing atheists the folly of their denials. He made countless converts on the stump. Read More….
Anyone who does apologetics and street corner evangelization owes a debt of gratitude to Frank Sheed. He was the master in modern times and set the standard moving forward.
Sheed was called the Prophet of Hyde Park and there were Catholic Evidence Guilds all over the world. I hear that CEG still practices at Grand Central Station in NYC.
By the way, some people don’t go on facebook.