The Catechetical Review - Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization

Ask, Seek, Knock: The Pitfalls and Potential of Catholic Door-to-Door Evangelization

Authored by Joshua Kenny in Issue #10.3 of Catechetical Review

Two hands praying at a table“He’s just too small,” sobbed a woman we had just met. It was a sunny summer day, and the pastor, transitional deacon, and I were out knocking on doors within our parish boundaries. This woman’s door was within eyesight of the rectory, and it happened to be the first one we had visited. The conversation had started off just as awkwardly as one would imagine. She answered the door hesitantly, but smiled as we introduced ourselves. She was a parishioner and relaxed when she saw the pastor standing at the back of our group. We explained that we were out introducing ourselves and the parish to the neighborhood. When we asked if there were any intentions we could pray for, she took a deep breath and said yes. She then began to tell us about her unborn grandson and how her daughter’s pregnancy was not going well. She asked us to pray for the baby boy, who was just too small.

We could have just as easily not been there. That same morning, I had offered a training for any parishioners who wanted to learn about door-to-door evangelization. The idea was to walk them through a basic script at the parish and let them shadow those of us with more experience as we knocked on doors in the surrounding neighborhood. Nobody came.

Door-to-door ministry is a frightening prospect for many Catholics, and it is a frightening ministry to organize. Yet, there are overflowing graces to be had, both for the evangelist and the evangelized. Consider my opening story: What would have been lost if our team had gone home after the failed training seminar? Within eyesight of our parish was someone who needed Jesus’ comfort and the only way we could bring it to her was by following Christ’s own counsel: “Ask, . . . seek, . . . knock” (Mt 7:7).

I have been engaged in door-to-door evangelization since 2017. In that time, I have knocked on countless doors and said countless prayers. I have been invited into living rooms and have been cursed from behind locked doors. I have interrupted drug deals and witnessed spontaneous neighborhood prayer meetings. Through it all, I have become convinced that this style of ministry does have a place in the Catholic Church.

Historically, door-to-door ministry has been the near-exclusive province of Protestants, Latter Day Saints, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Frankly, there have been times that, after seeing two men in white dress shirts and ties walking through my neighborhood, I suddenly decided there were errands I needed to run. Undoubtedly, the first pitfall to be overcome in this ministry is its perception. The very words “door-to-door” conjure up images of tract-wielding zealots and vacuum cleaner salesmen. The only way to change this perception is to do the ministry a different way. What if door-to-door evangelists were like those servants of the master who went out into the streets and through the city inviting all they met to the great wedding feast (see Lk 14:15–24)?

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This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting [email protected]

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