Thursday

Why don't Catholics evangelize door-to-door?


Door to Door Anyone?
By Paul Dion, STL

This week ParishWorld.net has decided to break the trend of asking a question and giving an immediate answer. This week we are asking a question and we are counting on you to give the answer that you have in your heart. We know that you have one. We want to hear it. We will stay on top of your comments and we will participate along with you in the development of the truth as it gets put out on the table.

One of the first methods of evangelization as we read in the Bible was going from dwelling to dwelling to share the Good News. Jesus is pictured many times at the table of some sinner or other. His favorite stop-over in Bethany must have come about as a result of visits that He made during his annual prayer pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

When we read the history of the Church as recounted by St. Luke in the Book of Acts, we follow Peter from house to house along the beautiful seashore region to the west of Jerusalem. It was beautiful country and because it was mainly Roman, the opportunities for presenting the New Way to the Gentiles were certainly very alluring.

The history of the Church takes us through the times when the Eucharist was celebrated in Home Churches in Greece and in Rome. This certainly presupposes a ministry that was essentially a visitation of "apostles" to the particular houses of the residents in a given area. We also should consider the ministry of St.Francis. He was never ordained a priest, just as most monks of the early centuries did not. They would work at the monastery and got into town and work with the families there while living an intense spiritual life. In Assisi, St. Francis and his brothers were dedicated to covering the town with their presence. This was imitating Peter and Paul as they spread the Gospel story in Caesarea, not far from Jerusalem.

So many saints throughout the ages did the same thing with their disciples, John Bosco, Martin de Porres, Vincent de Paul, Mother Cabrini and countless others.

Given all this history and given the tremendous growth that it has brought to the Catholic Church, "Why, oh why do we Catholics not dedicate ourselves to go door-to-door to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ?"

What do you think? What do you suggest we do about it?

Remember, your answer will be read by thousands. Pray about it, and put your inspired answer out in front of God's people. You might be instrumental in the re-constructing of a traditionally powerful method of evangelization.


17 comments:

  1. Joelle G.11:37 PM

    It is a terrifying proposition to go door to door because I'm afraid I will not have the proper answers if they ask me questions. I get stumped when people ask me about my faith.

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  2. P. Grauer11:40 PM

    Catholics don't evangelize freely like the Protestants because our knowledge of the Bible is not as strong. And our parishes do not have programs that actively encourage Catholics to knock on doors and talk about Jesus.

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  3. We will address this feeling before very long. Joelle, trust your faith snd your heart.

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  4. Good Morning,

    My name is Gladys Carter and I am a member of the Legion of Mary, one of our assignments is to go Door to Door, but because of the elders in our organization and the danger we had to stop going door to door. So you see there are Catholic that have gone door to door looking for follow away Catholic and unbaptized.

    Thank you!

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  5. Gee:
    You're right. The Legion of Mary has an illustrious reputation for visiting homes. There is a group in our parish that brings a statue of Our Lady to different homes every week where she stays and they have the rosary every night for that week.
    More to come

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  6. Congratulations to you who have made comments up to this point. ParishWorld.net hopes that more of our brethren will join you in what we could call our "living room".
    Evangelizing door to door is not an easy apostolate. It can, in fact, be terrifying as Joelle said. Not everybody has the vocation to do it.
    Many Catholics think that door to door evangelizing has to follow the model that we observe most often. It is known in the sales business as "cold calling". So, Bible in hand, the disciples walk down the street, knock on doors and brace themselves for what will come at them. A truly frightening prospect.
    There are other ways of carrying the faith to people in their homes. We will discuss some of them a little later on.

    We are accustomed to being confronted with a barrage of Bible verses and chapters with which we are not familiar and we form an image of door to door evangelilzation that is based on that style. Maybe we should ask ourselves how terrifying it would be to just greet whomever came to the door with the announcement that we are Catholic and suggest that we spend a moment or two in prayerful blessing? If the answer were to be "no", wish the person well, turn around and leave for warmer encounters. If the answer was "yes", just bow your heads, say a short prayer, give the person a copy of the parish bulletin, wish the homeowner well and leave, unless invited to continue the visit. We are willing to bet that the first question we would have to answer would be, "Since when do Catholics go around visiting people?"

    We'll be back later. There is more to be said about this topic.

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  7. Anonymous8:31 PM

    Most protestants know what they will ask and have it marked on their bible pages. Now all Catholics have to do is prepare them selves the same way. For starters; Buy THE NEW CATHOLIC ANSWER BIBLE. It gives biblical answers to many catholic beliefs,such as Purgatory,why we call priest father,why we Baptize infants. Why we confess to a Priest. Why is Mary called queen of heaven. It gives answers to protestants of our Catholic beliefs taken from scripture.

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  8. Marian Morelos9:33 AM

    Having the knowledge on hand is always a good thing. But I'm thinking the lack of it should not stop us if we really want to spread the Good News of the Gospel. What if we just went around talking about the goodness of God and showing people the goodness that exists in our hearts? Didn't St. Francis of Assisi say we should spread the Good News and if necessary we should use words? All I'm saying is not having the right things to say or the right information to give should not stop us. Because we will never know when we have enough words or knowledge necessary to evengelize door-to-door. But we will always know when there's enough goodness in our hearts to begin touching people's hearts.

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  9. MARIAN:
    You hit the nail on the head. The mission that we have as disciples of Christ is not an intellectual exercise.

    Paul Dion, STL
    Theology Editor

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  10. Why not door-to-door evangelization? I think it boils down 2 things:

    1) a lack of foundation and knowledge about what we believe in, which leads to a fear in talking about it. (Are many of us still learning about our faith the older we get?) I personally feel I lack the words to communicate my faith properly, and this has led to many wasted opportunities to talk with people about God.

    and

    2) a lack of "push" from our parish priests and leaders to go out and evangelize. I mean, if we see more people leading by example, we would probably have more people willing to talk about their faiths.

    ... Or is the problem that not enough people feel the burning zeal to share the beauty of God's love with others? I pray this is not so.


    I know that "cold calling" at houses is definitely much more difficult, but still, there are ALWAYS opportunities given to us by God to talk about Him, opportunities to share what we believe in and why. A simple conversation with someone on the bus, on a plane, in line at the bank, even with a waiter in a restaurant -- these are all times when we can talk about God if only we can get past our fear.

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  11. Lionel:
    Excellent points. Your comment reflects the feelings of many. People feeel unprepared to talk about their faith. Analytically, that happens because we think that we have to talk from our heads insteasd of from our hearts. We don;t feel as thought we talk from our faith rather than from our brain. Some have said, "Well, we don't know the verses of the Bible like those who represent other religions do."

    You bring up an excellent point about our leaders not putting much emphasis on the door to door ministry. It goes hand in hand with training and the call.

    Door to door ministry is a special behavior that requires training and a call to do it. Catholic leaders must be ready to put out the call, be ready to provide training (classsroom and on-the-job)in order to have the teams ready to do the job.

    ParishWorld.net is not ready to impugn the zeal of the faithful on this one. We think that despite the centuries old tradition of this type of mission, we don't seem ready to make it happen in our time. It works in politics, why wouldn't it work for Jesus?

    Your final paragraph calls forth my final statement. "Cold calling" doesn't seem to be a good strategy for anyone at any time. There are better tactics. There is a way to warm up the "target". Friend referrals. Where do you get those? At the door of the church on Sundays from the hospitality greeters. They get into conversations with the church goers. The trainer teaches they how to make the subject of a home visit come up and I guarantee that the door-to-door mission will take off.

    There are some good ideas in this comment section. ParishWorld.net hopes that it will serve as an impetus to get some of these missions off the ground.

    Paul Dion, STL
    Theology Editor

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  12. Anonymous8:21 PM

    Ilove to read anything Catholic that has the signature( NIHIL OBSTAT). When I read I study and take it to heart and I believe therefor I have faith. It opens me up to be able to evangelize to anyone anywhere because it is in my heart. Take for instance the following anaology of one who follows Christ in a parable form.
    There was a dog who saw a rabbit running through town and he took chase after the rabbit yelp,yelp, yelp. Soon another dog heard the sound of the first dog and followed that sound with his yelp, yelp, yelp. Then another dog did the same and followed the last dog, dogs were coming out of nowhere following the sounds and excitement. Soon after a few miles of running the dogs started dropping off one by one soon there was only the one dog left pursuing the rabbit, why? because he is the one who saw the rabbit. Many Christians Catholic or otherwise pursue shortly because they have not seen God in others they drop out. Luke warmness is in many families. Read scripture that is explained and believe what you are being taught and believe me you can walk through fire and not be burned. My name is Manny I previously wrote anonymously.

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  13. Manny:
    Thanks for using your name. Like the NIHIL OBSTAT, our name carries a seal of authenticity. God has called us by name and He has sent us by name. May He bless you in all yo do.

    Paul Dion, STL
    Theology Editor

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  14. Ummm... it's hard enough trying to get them to study the basics of their faith... let alone getting them to go out "two by two" as the Scriptures described the early days. So, I think we don't do it, simply because Catholics are largely ignorant about what we believe. I mean, how many of us would turn away the JW's and the Mormons from our doors, because we are intimidated by their "knowlege" of Scripture.

    learn the faith... live the faith... and then share the faith...

    Laurence Gonzaga
    Apologist

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  15. Anonymous4:22 PM

    This past Sunday two young men of the jehovah witness sect came to my door I greeted them and they stated their purpose showing me their Awake magazine would I be instersted. I smiled with them and listened to them then i explained to them I am a Catholic and we have a difference in our beliefs. Then I asked them do you know what APOLOGETICS means they both said no. So inside of me I said (GREAT). I then proceeded to ask them to please wait a few seconds and that I would be right back I arrived with eight books of which before showing them I explained to them apologetics is defending my Catholic Faith through scripture.
    I then proceeded to let them view the titles of the books. They saw one titled How to Answer Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons. There was a quick response we do not believe in a trinitarian God, "I know I said, we Catholics do believe in the Holy Trinity. They did not wish to pursue further. So we parted as I wished them well and I let them know I would keep them in prayer they thanked me and it is in God's hands now. I wish they would have stayed to hear more.
    Manny

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  16. I have had 2-3 hour long discussions with JW's... i took them into my "office", where not coincidentally, there was an image of Our Lord and Our Lady. I think it made them a bit nervous. We met twice, before that man sent for some reinforcements. The next guy was very good.

    -Laurence
    Apologist

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  17. Anonymous7:26 AM

    Jesus should be our perfect example. We should live our lives like Him. What drew people to him? Was it because he knocked at people's doors. Of course not. Jesus want us to show others our faith through our daily actions. If you dont show faith through your actions and then ut on a suit and knock at peoples doors to seem apealing we are not doing God's will. If we live open lives with our faith not only in church but all throughout our lives, people will see that and if they are open to us we should teach them about our faith. Catholics gain thousands of converts every year yet they don't knock on doors. They teach others by example.
    -Joe

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