Some might say that “Catholic evangelism” is an oxymoron.
Since I left the Catholic Church in my teenage years I have never had anyone make a serious attempt to win me back. Representatives of Evangelical churches have knocked on my door several times in the hope of converting me, but I have never had a Catholic share their faith with me. I know that Pope John Paul II called for a “new evangelization,” but I am not quite sure how the Catholic laity pursue such an agenda.
I thus found this Washington Post piece to be particularly interesting. It seems that some Catholics are trying their hand at what the piece calls “old-fashioned evangelism.” And when they say “old fashioned evangelism” they seem to mean old-fashioned evangelical-style evangelism. Here is a taste:
SHREWSBURY, Mo. — On a recent rainy Saturday, about 125 Catholics packed a basement conference room, many of them older, most of them lay people. Many were representing their parishes.
They gathered here to learn how to spread the faith, a concept that is both fundamental to Christianity and nearly foreign to modern Roman Catholics.
For the first hour of the conference, Kenneth Livengood, a parishioner at Holy Trinity Parish in St. Ann, Mo., detailed one way — door-to-door evangelization, a missionary strategy more familiar to Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“We’ve been tricked into thinking faith is a private matter,” Livengood told the audience. “That’s a lie. Faith is meant to be public, and there are many ways to share it.”
He taught them how to form a door-to-door ministry, explained how to divide a boundary map of their parish into geographical sections, suggested useful handouts, gave safety tips, and showed videos that detailed the best way to respond to various reactions from those on the other side of the door.
“Divide up into teams of two,” Livengood said. “One of you can do the talking and the other should be a silent prayer warrior. At the next house, flip your roles.”
Evangelization is central to the Christian mission, but for the average adherent, the physical act of approaching a neighbor, work colleague or family member can be daunting.
Read the rest here.