It is no accident that Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs (Mark 6:7, Luke 10:1). Think about it: if you want to convince people of something or be persuasive, it helps to have another person backing up your story. In a trial, it helps if there is more than one witness to testify. In the Old Testament, no one could be convicted of a crime based on the testimony of a single witness. The word of one person is usually not enough to establish the validity of anything. A number of Scriptural verses back this up: Dt. 19:15; 1 Cor. 14:29; 2 Cor. 13:1; 1 Tim. 5:19; Heb. 10:28.
So, having established that, perhaps we see why many Christian denominations evangelize by sending people out in pairs to do door-to-door ministry. Catholics tend to be very hesitant about this approach. I think we need to reconsider. Certainly we don’t want to engage in proselytizing. However, door-to-door ministry/outreach can be a very effective way to let people know that the Catholic Church cares and welcomes. Such visits could offer an opportunity for the parish representatives to offer some information about the parish. They could perhaps invite neighbors to a specific event, ask if they have any needs that the parish can assist with, and ask if there is anyone/anything for whom/which they can pray. This is not a time for debates about whether or not a person is saved.
I propose that every parish find two people to begin such a ministry. Does it take more than two? Of course, but one of the reasons we never take on new ministries is because we make them out to be too large and overwhelming. If you want to start with more than two, no one is stopping you! I’m just suggesting that two people who are willing to go door-to-door in the name of a Catholic parish can lay the foundation for making a huge difference in how that parish is perceived and in how that parish interacts with the community.
Can you think of two people in your parish who could undertake this task? What’s stopping you from asking them?
Is your parish already doing something like this? Please share your experience.
1) May I ask what you mean by this statement: “Certainly we don’t want to engage in proselytizing.”? Are you equating evangelization with proselytization?
2) Has your parish engaged in the door-to-door ministry you say parishes need to engage in and, if so, did it “change” the parish?
John, I am striving to differentiate evangelizing from proselytizing. To evangelize is to invite someone to transformation through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To proselytize is to recruit members to your denomination. A proselytizing approach seeks to persuade the individual to join your congregation, often by engaging in debate. To evangelize is to bring the Gospel to people, lay it at their feet, and invite them to consider it. I’ve not personally been a part of a parish doing door-to-door ministry but am familiar with some that have and they stand by its effectiveness. If even one person finds his or her way to Christ through door-to-door ministry, that’s a changed parish.