Evangelization. Sometimes a scary word for Catholics. Lions and tigers and bears and…evangelization. Oh my. Catholics are notoriously bad at evangelization, at least, that’s the stereotype. We imagine our protestant brothers and sisters doing the big work of evangelization: standing on street corners, handing out pamphlets, going on mission trips, praying out loud, actually knowing what’s in the bible, flocking around a dynamic preacher.
Cathy Duffy’s book “Everyday Evangelism for Catholics” addresses this concern. Duffy utilizes insight from her own personal experiences in evangelization to create a playbook for modern Catholic evangelism.
Her work contains a plethora of resources and pragmatic strategies for approaching evangelization. It is clear from this book that she’s had a TON of experience. What’s more, she doesn’t limit her perspective to “formal” evangelization situations. She shares examples of evangelization work she’s done both at her parish and within her personal life, and points to resources that help with both categories. This gives the reader a broad sense of many forms of evangelization.
What I LOVE about this book
What I just love about this book is the focus Duffy places on listening:
“…while an understanding of doctrine and worldviews is helpful, more often than not, the most valuable skill you bring to the table for an evangelistic conversation is the ability to listen.
I would consider this to be the thesis statement of Duffy’s guide, and something all too necessary to remember in the New Evangelization. Think of the list of “evangelization” activities I put up before. Standing on street corners, handing out pamphlets, going on mission trips, praying out loud, actually knowing what’s in the bible, flocking around a dynamic preacher. Although these are good things, very few of those place the focus listening.
Duffy presents the core of evangelization as listening completely and intentionally to those in your life. Instead of shoving doctrine down throats, you ask questions to better understand their worldview—and to encourage them to start questioning what they believe is true. You build trust, and show them that you truly want what’s best for them—the overwhelming love of Christ.
Perfect… for the right audience
To be completely honest, this book was not the perfect resource for me. I have had the blessing of taking courses on sharing the gospel and seminars on good listening skills. What’s more, I’m inundated with the Catholic community that has formed online, which is a beacon for evangelism. This doesn’t make me “perfect” at evangelization, but I think I’m beyond the scope of this book. If you feel yourself already well-versed in evangelization, this book is not for you (unless you’re looking for a list of resources for evangelization, for which this book is a treasure trove!).
However, that’s not to say that this book isn’t extremely useful in the right circumstance. It is the PERFECT beginner’s guide to evangelism. Are you new to the process of evangelization? Do you feel overwhelmed at the prospect of sharing Catholicism? Please read this book. Do you have a friend who would love to evangelize, but doesn’t know how? Buy them this book.
For the newbie to Catholic evangelization, this book is essential.
Yes, this book would be great for a beginner evangelist to read on their own. But, IMHO, the VERY BEST setting for this book—and the idea of this makes me really excited—would be for an evangelization team at a parish. Some parishes have them, and this book makes me want to start an evangelization team at mine! The team could get together, pray the prayers at the start of the chapter, and delve into the discussion questions. This book could help the group develop skills and form a common vision. How cool would that be??