Old Style Evangelization Made New Again

Old Style Evangelization Made New Again
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“Mom, there’s someone at the door.”

It was a Saturday morning and I hadn’t showered yet. I’m pretty sure I had only had one cup of coffee, so all my brain cells weren’t firing yet.

That must be why I responded completely intelligently with a “Whaaaa?”

“There’s SOMEONE at the DOOR.”

They hadn’t rung the bell or come in through the garage the way people who know us do.

They were just…standing there. Waiting. As if they were used to it.

I went to the outer garage screen door and knew immediately what it was about. I was barefoot and not feeling particularly friendly–the concrete garage floor was chilly! I was in a t-shirt! This was unexpected!

“Good morning,” the woman said in a not-too-perky voice. She looked like someone I might be friends with, if she hadn’t just interrupted my Saturday chaos to share her faith with me.

I let her get as far as her first breath when I told her I was familiar with her religion and that I wasn’t interested. By that point, I was feeling more friendly, but…well, something kept me from trying to share back.

I’ve had a number of interactions with Jehovah’s Witnesses here on the farm and in my youth. I was also raised in a non-Catholic “ask a friend to church” culture and I’ve always been rather intrigued by the Catholic approach. Or maybe it’s a non-approach, because there just isn’t the same “invite people along” mentality in Catholic circles. At. All.

What won me over to Catholicism, truth be told, was not the arguments. No one tried to sell me on the One True Faith.

And that told me far more than almost anything else. What convinced me, in large part, were the quiet confidence of the man I would marry, the authority and bearing of the priest who ended up confirming me, and the faith in action of so many of the Catholics I saw in the pews.

I have a degree in marketing. I’m extremely sensitive to being “sold.” I remember going door-to-door as a kid, leaving door hangers that said things like “Jesus loves you and we’re sorry we missed you.”

I was never quite comfortable with that. And I think I’ve come up with some reasons why. (That’s the topic for the future, though.)

We need to engage. We need to converse. We need to be present.

But we also need to not be annoying about it. WE are not responsible for selling anyone on anything. Free will, remember?

We plant seeds in many ways. The Holy Spirit does the watering. Ultimately, things are between that person and God. Letting go and trusting God with that process is easier said than done, I know. Oh, how I know!

How we live tells people a lot more than anything else. And the people we need to evangelize aren’t usually strangers. In fact, they’re not usually any farther away than across the room.

The New Evangelization isn’t really new. The topic’s the same. The message is the same. In fact, the means of evangelizing are pretty much the same, too. Don’t be fooled by the technology. Everyone’s longing for a home visit and an honest moment together.

Copyright © 2012, Sarah Reinhard

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Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard continues to be shocked and delighted that her life as a grown-up involve horses, writing, and sparkly dress shoes. In her work in the New Evangelization as a Catholic wife, mom, writer, parish employee, and catechist, she’s learned a lot of lessons, had a lot of laughs, and consumed mass amounts of coffee. She’s online at SnoringScholar.com and CatholicMom.com, and is the author of a number of books.

  • Excellent point, we need to be present to others. As a friend of mine says, “you may be the only Jesus people see” so BE the best and it will go a long way.

  • Deanna, so cool that you said that…I use that ALL. THE. TIME. with my 5th graders and Confirmation students and with the adults I interact with! And then I have to remind myself of the same!

  • In my world this is a maximum evangelizing moment: “Hey darlin’ I love seein’ you takin’ Jesus so seriously on a Saturday…I just gotta know- why aren’t you Catholic?”

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