Why Don't We Evangelize During Public Social Events?

I live in the Bible Belt and see Protestants evangelize every chance they get.

Protestants churches have:

-Parade floats on the 4th of July and hands out fliers for their church in addition to candy thrown from their float.

-Trunk or treat events in which they hand out a simple card with a QR code in it. The QR code links to their web page with a “simple message” from their pastor.

-Back to school supplies handouts with tracts that spread the message of “faith alone” along with the “sinners prayer.”

Why don’t we as Catholics do this? I want to be part of a public event that hands out a small paper with a QR code that leads to the Catholic Answers website or a business card that has or local Catholic radio station in it! We are the Pillar and Foundation of Truth. I don’t understand why we aren’t out there “marketing” like Protestants.

ps: I know about St Paul Street Evangelization but every single person i talk to is not interested in getting anything like that going.

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My goodness. I hope they also give candy to those kids. Nothing will drive children away from Christ faster than giving them an evangelization card when they were expecting candy.

I don’t think there’s any prohibition against it. Maybe just a lack of interest. It takes a lot of effort (as well as money, in many cases) to organize events like that. You’d need to drum up enough support in your church to get the ball rolling.

My old church used to have some events they would advertise to the broader community, and they would use those opportunities to do some light evangelizing.

If you’re interested, why don’t you schedule a meeting with your pastor and present him with some ideas you have for potential community events? They could advertise it in the bulletin to try to get volunteers or donations.

Though maybe wait until after the pandemic is over. With so many people avoiding social gatherings, it could put a dent in your attendance. If you do something like this, you want the first one to be a big success, so you have a good case to hold other events like it in the future.

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One of my favorite autumn festivals in Northern Illinois (cancelled this year, like everything else) features a huge parade–lasts around 2 hours, and has everything, including all the politicians (mainly Republican, since the small town that sponsors the festival is almost solid Republican, like many small towns in Illinois). Darn it, I was really looking forward to being at the parade this year and waving to all my Republican candidates! Oh, well.

We also see almost every church in that area in the parade, usually with lovely homemades floats, and throwing out candy attached to a little tract or pamphlet. The Catholic churches in the area have beautiful floats and give candy and tracts.

And the Catholic Church in that small town has the good luck to be right on the parade route! In fact, during the festival, the weekend Masses are pretty full–I think a lot of out-of-towners and Chicago-types like attending Mass in such a quaint, very old church building!

So…apparently in some areas of the country, Catholics do get out there and throw candy and pamphlets for the Lord and His Church!

Maybe your parish just needs someone to head up the “Parade Float Committee.” Hmmm…who could that someone be? Could it be…Jennifer 79?! (sorry, just having fun with you–but think about it!)

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I have a theory about this. FTR I don’t live in America so our cultural norms may be different. In Australia for example the Baptist community is very good at evangelising. Catholics simply don’t do it.

Catholic culture is old. Thus back in a time where nearly everyone in the community went to church, there was a community of individuals that would bring their skills together to support each other. This was never done formally but a natural side effect of a close knit community. Therefore it would be natural for the faith to be promoted, and for support to be given when needed.

Protestant churches were created later in a time they didn’t have a majority in their community. Thus they created structures and procedures within the church to survive and promote. Even today, with congregation numbers decreasing those protocols and structure are still in effect and it is natural for these promotions and procedures to continue.

The local baptist community offers many family friendly Christian structures. It is a reason my family attends the baptist youth group and they love it. There is no catholic equivalent anywhere around us.

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Likely because the general perception of street evangelists is that they’re noisy and annoying. Nothing angers an American more than someone being loud and intrusive.

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I agree. How successful is handing out flyers and tracts by Protestants? I haven’t seen any research but I highly doubt it is successful. I do remember reading that JWs door to door proselytizing doesn’t work anymore and numbers are actually going down.

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@CaptainPrudeman and @Dan_Defender you took the words out of my mouth!

Some of these ideas are actually fine…parade floats…but the handing out tracts with QR code’s or back to school supplies aren’t effective, are costly and often annoying. I doubt that they’ve gotten more than two additional members from these tactics.

Street preachers are the worst to me. They are annoying and rude to approach me unasked. If someone want to set up a booth to give information then I have the choice to approach or not. But walking into my space and expecting me to take and read some flyer is not giving me a choice. It’s forced and unwelcome. Protestant evangelizers are noted for doing these annoying stunts so why should the Catholic Church imitate it?

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I totally agree. If this weren’t 2020 my county would be doing it’s very big annual parade tonight and we’d probably get some churches, civic groups like the Knights of Columbus, and such and it makes sense. “Here we are! If you want to join or just have question, let us know.” It’s friendly, inviting, and not off-putting.

@White_Tree That’s an excellent point about the candy. It reminds me of this:

Promising something and not delivering it gets the absolute wrong kind of attention for a message.

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A few thoughts come to mind. First, I had a friend who used to do these things & she said her church really promoted the idea that these people would go to HELL unless they prayed the sinner prayer before they died. So she felt enormous pressure to get people to say. that. prayer. Maybe why some Protestants hand out tracts and such, even if it doesn’t increase their church attendance. Catholics on the other hand don’t see any certain prayer as the ticket to salvation. It’s a longer process & something that takes more knowledge & time to absorb. An ongoing process. It doesn’t seem to lend itself to tracts.

Also… Protestants are required to tithe. These missionary endeavors you mentioned take money. I simply don’t think Catholics tend to give a solid 10%. That could influence how evangelization happens too.

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The Catholics in my country (Philippines) and even in some other parts of the world have floats with the saints’ icon or statue procession. It’s just lovely to see people being united into one while holding candles with children throwing confetti.

Oh, we have this too. Not on a paper but clergies would give lovely messages to their parishioners after the Liturgy.

Some parishes give school supplies to public school students and the poor. It depends on how much money they have, of course.

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I think we’re doing some charitable works but silently because we don’t want to be showy or to be like hypocrites. We do them with silence but made out with love. I was not saying that it’s bad to give donations or to organize public events, my point is, we’re some are just too silent about these good deeds because we’re following what Jesus told us to do:

"But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing" — Mt 6:3

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No, most aren’t required or checked on their donations at all. Many willingly give a 10% tithe and the pastors often preach on donating to the church…but required? I know the LDS requires and checks up on their members tithing but I honestly don’t know of any other churches requiring it.

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Actually we do, depends on where you live.
In Croatia we have Ultra festival (electronic music).
Every year 100-150 000 people come, there is always mess when it starts, alot of drugs and alcohol. One year Salesians of don Bosco decide they will come with Salesian youth every year to evangelize.
You can see photos here

Also, today many things happen on internet.
For example there is app called Nova Eva - 2 meanings - New Eva (Mary) and New Evangelization.
Salesians evangelize alot and their main vocation is care for youth.

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Catholics do all that stuff up here. Every parade, the Catholic parish/ school has a float. Street fairs, they have a booth. The parish trunk-or-treats around here just finished. There are also other public Catholic events such as religious processions and fairs associated with saint feast days, which often draw a lot of non-Catholics who just want to eat Italian sausage and see fireworks, etc.

The only thing Catholics don’t tend to do is hand out tracts; I think they want people to just come to church and see for themselves rather than giving them some oversimplified thing to read or more likely litter the street with.

I think one factor driving this in the areas where I see it is that there’s a significant Catholic population. It doesn’t tend to happen in areas where Catholics are largely outnumbered by the Evangelicals.

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Just to add on, I think there’s a tendency among some Catholics to think that whatever is or isn’t going on in their parish or their particular area is true of Catholicism as a whole. I would caution people against making that mistake. Just because no one is doing something in your own parish or neighborhood, doesn’t mean that “Catholics” everywhere" aren’t doing it. We’re a very big church.

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In the United States, this approach to evangelizing is associated with “born again” evangelicals in the mid-west and south. Among these kind of churches, it is the expected activity and among the unchurched or those of other religions, the objects of street evangelism, it has minimal impact except among those looking for material assistance, ie., a church runs a food pantry, clothing exchange, rehab program for substance abusers, a shelter, or senior and children’s programs.
In the northeast, west coast, and wealthy neighborhoods of large metro areas, it is mostly looked down upon as something associated with the uneducated, “hillbillies,” or just plain too intrusive to be mannerly. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons are best known for going door-to-door and person-to-person at public events. While one might admire their persistence, there’s nothing so annoying as a couple of JW ladies from the Kingdom Hall ringing your buzzer when you’re sleeping in in a Saturday morning. I find this approach intrusive, even rude, much like when someone tries to sell me something I do not want. Somehow, I have great difficulty imagining Our Blessed Mother walking up to a total stranger, thrusting a tract in her hand and asking, “Madam, if you die in your sleep tonight, do you know where you’ll wake up in the morning? Heaven or Hell?” (We might add Purgatory.).
Throwing religious tract wrapped candy off a float at a parade seems to me unbefitting the dignity of Christ, more like throwing food scraps to lure and trap animals. Maybe it’s because I’m from New York, now Maine, but I avoid this sort of thing like I avoid a swarm of deer flies in May.

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The OP isn’t talking about going door-to-door, she’s talking about a Catholic presence at community events.

The Catholic parishes in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic do have a friendly presence in the community and appear at events and hold events of their own. Nobody thinks it’s intrusive or “hillbilly” to do that. It doesn’t involve door-knocking or waking people up. Some Catholic churches have evangelization where they visit people at home, but it’s mostly people who are Catholic and who might not have been to church in a while, it’s not random door-to-door.

Some evangelization activities may be associated with certain ethnicities; for example, Italian and Latino parishes are known for having processions and street festivals, while Irish parishes may have special activities on or around St. Patrick’s Day.

Well I hope you’re okay with the Catholics here throwing candy without a tract on it, because they do. Actually they and everyone else now hand the candy to kids because the municipality banned candy-throwing for fear a child would get hit by a vehicle while running to pick up thrown candy.

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Most Protestant denominations do not require tithing. In the past, certain denominations did, and probably there are still some that do, but most don’t.

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When I lived in Dayton Ohio there was a Convent of Nuns just outside our neighborhood with an elementary school next door. Every year they put on a carnival. To say it was popular is an understatement! My friends and I…all Jewish…would go. If the carnival was to celebrate a specific Catholic holiday or event, I have no idea. But, we knew it was put on by the Church and attracted people from all walks.

The Dayton University is a Catholic college that often put on events as well, besides having an outstanding basketball team.

Christmas parades always had several floats from various parishes as well as DU. Many more than most other churches in town. I think the parishes had competitions amongst themselves for parade trophies.

I have no idea how “Catholic” Dayton was then…large enough that they were a presence, anyway and well like by the non catholic community as far as I ever was aware.

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From the 1920s till the 1960s the Catholic Evidence Guild in England had a massive presence on the street corners. Organized by Frank Sheed they had well trained speakers on street corners or other public places where it was common, at least then, for anyone to get up and give a talk. They would explain some aspect of doctrine.

They often had priests afterwards on the edge of the crowd, if anyone had a private question or wanted Confession.

I realize our culture has changed somewhat (people don’t linger on street corners much in my city) but the idea might be applied in other ways. The approach was not “You need to convert now” but “here’s the truth”.

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