Monday, February 20, 2012

How Giving Up or Stopping Door-to-Door Evangelism Will Grow or Build Your Church

Many people, like me, have discovered or concluded that door-to-door evangelism will cause your church to get smaller.  I haven't seen other churches doing it around here and some of them have gotten huge in part by leaving it out.   The really big churches almost exclusively would be against door-to-door evangelism.  Being here for twenty-five years, besides Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons, we have never had anyone knock on our door with any kind of religious or biblical presentation.  Neither have I had anyone hand me a gospel tract out in the real world.  Most churches that still do door-to-door evangelism are considered to be a bad joke by almost all of evangelicalism and big part of fundamentalism.  Most of them are even thought to be stupid, because they "haven't figured out that not only does it not work, but it is an actual detriment to real church growth."

I've read the following as some of the negative opinion about door-to-door evangelism, not necessarily in this order.  First, you don't have to do it.  Nowhere does Scripture say you have to do it.  Second, it doesn't work, so it's a waste of time.  Third, there are much better ways to see better results.  Fourth, when we stopped doing it, we had a lot more success.  That ties in with number three, I know.  Fifth, the people who do it are generally one-to-three-pray-with-me, easy prayerism types, that have a weak view of salvation.  Sixth,  the people who are involved with it don't want to develop relationships with the lost, like Jesus did with sinners. Seventh, just shoving the gospel down people's throats isn't going to work.  You can't pull your Bible out like a big hammer and expect people to listen to you.  Eighth, door-to-door preaching will close the doors of your church to people.  People won't want to come to visit the church because you've turned them off to the church through the preaching.  Ninth, the people who do go door-to-door think that you can measure people's Christian life or spirituality by how many doors that they knock on.  It lacks in grace in this way and is a faulty view of sanctification.  Tenth, unsaved people just don't like it.  Eleventh, people in general, not just the unsaved, don't like having cold turkey calls on their doors.  It's a turn off.  Again, that is related to number ten.  Twelve, a lot of Christians can't do door-to-door; it's too hard.  So there we go---there's twelve of them.  You can tell me if you've heard others.  I wanted you to know, however, that I really already knew all of these, heard them all before, and maybe even others that I'm not thinking of right now.  I know I'm still stupid, but I at least know these.

So, if you want your church to get bigger and especially if you want to be a mega-church, you've got to dump door-to-door.  I want you to explore with me how giving up or stopping door-to-door evangelism will grow or build your church.

First, if you don't go door-to-door, your people will like your church more and stay.  This is what people call 'keeping the back door of your church closed.'  When people find out that you think the Bible requires Christians to be a part of preaching the gospel to every creature, they will find another church that doesn't say that, and go there.

Second, if your church is a church that goes door-to-door, people out there will figure that out, because they'll see you going.  And they'll know then to stay away, because you may as well admit it---you're crazy.  People into Jesus enough to go cold turkey to someone's door to talk about it are so fanatical that they will scare the normal person off.  Keep going door-to-door and people will mark you down as the place not to attend.

Third, you will ruin the strategy of inviting people to church by preaching.  You don't want to give them an unpopular message all at once, but to dispense it a little at a time to make it palatable to the hearer.  You first want them to get excited about qualities of your church that aren't offensive to them.  Once they find things they like, then they'll accept some of the things they don't like as part of the whole package.

Fourth, your church people will be disaffected toward church ministry by door-to-door.  Your workers will dwindle down to near nothing if they feel like they have to do something so difficult.  And without those volunteers, your church can't grow.  To keep up the interest for working in your church, you've got to minimize the value of door-to-door and make it seem as more of an unappealing alternative for the few hysterical.  Even better, replace it with forms of evangelism that make common sense.

Fifth, if you are doing door-to-door, you are taking away from the methods that actually work in adding numbers to your church.  If you want your church to get bigger, you use techniques that target certain demographics with church programs and incentives.  Any manpower or time that you take away from those programs, the smaller your church will stay.

I recently read the following that represents exactly what I'm talking about above:

When I first came to this church 12 years ago, we had a door to door program. It consisted of me and one man going out on Saturday mornings and another man going out by himself on Saturday afternoon. We did this faithfully for 2 years with zero results. I begged the Lord to give wisdom. I was willing to do that my whole ministry if that is what he wanted. But I also sensed something had to change. . . . We have not done door to door in 10 years and have way more Gospel contacts than we ever did. My people are starting to get it. I really believe this is the best way to give out the Gospel. Find a hobby you like, and witness to the lost who do it.

People laud this kind of comment in evangelicalism and fundamentalism, as if it really is novel kind of thinking.  It isn't.  People stop evangelizing everyone because they suffer persecution.  They stop because preaching is an offense.  It isn't popular.  It's foolishness to the lost.  They stop because the fear of man brings a snare.  They stop because they fear him who can destroy body more than they fear Him Who can destroy both body and soul in Hell forever.

A good question is:  what did Jesus do?  He preached everywhere to everyone.  There was no strategy except preach to everyone everywhere.  He preached to everyone everywhere in Galilee, Judea, Samaria, Perea, Caesaria Philippi, and Tyre and Sidon.  If you are truly gospel-centered, you will too.  You will sow, water, and God will give the increase.  God gives the increase.  The one who sows and the one who waters are nothing.  They are irrelevant.  The new methods and strategies bring new relevance to the one who sows and waters.  They think of ideas that Jesus never thought of.  And meanwhile, what Jesus actually told us to do, preach the gospel to everyone, goes undone.  We disobey the Father's will because instead of being sanctified by the truth, we are sanctified by our own opinions and feelings.  Jesus came to do the Father's will.  We have come to conform the Bible to our own will.

Another acceptable new measure is the idea that you "pray for wisdom," and then God tells you something that adds to what He already said.  He told you to preach, but because "you weren't seeing results," you prayed for God to give you wisdom.  And how did you get that wisdom?  Where did you get your new revelation?  From man.  It didn't come from God.  God isn't going to give you something that will contradict what He already told you to do.

The churches in the Bible that became classified as churches that preached to everyone became more unpopular with the world.  So will yours.  Don't go door-to-door if you think it's about making your church bigger.  It's about obeying the Bible and, therefore, honoring God.

21 comments:

Micah said...

Kent,
you threw something out, but didn't answer it adequately.
1. why is a door to door inherently biblical? it is a technique, not a biblical imperative. you stated it is about obeying the Bible, but offered no support.
2. why would it be elevated above sharing the gospel in your workplace and/or hobby atmosphere? will i not be more effective if i repeatedly spend time with someone sharing the gospel rather than one off conversations with strangers?

in the end, it's a method, a tool and a technique. It's not sancrosanct. I won't even say it's outdated b/c a company like Edward Jones still uses it effectively for client cultivation. But it's not some hallowed evangelistic thread through the halls of scripture. it's a piece of culture. if you want to do it that way, embrace it. but don't criticize those who evangelize differently.

micah

Danny Haszard said...

Jehovah's Witnesses proselytizing is false witness.
Straight up doctrinal facts on Jehovah Witness cult.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach preach that Jesus had his return aka second coming October 1914,then they spin all sorts of doctrinal embellishments on that date with 1918 being their appointment by Jesus as sole heirs of this 1914 Kingdom coming.
They have infighting,crime and child abuse as bad as any church out there.
Have a deadly dogma prohibiting whole blood transfusion but use cow’s blood calling it *Hemopure*.

They teach only 144,000 go to heaven,on and on and on with made up man made dogmas……JW are a spin-off of the second adventist and have this in common with the SDA.

Jehovah’s Witnesses promotion of their Watchtower sect has the net effect of stumbling and turning people off to the real Gospel.
Jesus said: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte; and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves” (Matt 23:15)
-
Danny Haszard born 3rd generation Jehovah's Witness

*Tell the truth don't be afraid*

Anonymous said...

I would like to ask about your approach when you go door to door. The commission is to preach, not invite people to church. How do you go about doing this in your door to door ministry? This subject is one I have thought about alot lately, and I am lokking for some help. Thank you.

Luke

Kent Brandenburg said...

Luke,

We go to a door and tell the people why we are there and essentially ask them if we can present the gospel to them. If they say yes, we do, and if they say other things, like no, or maybe later, or I'm busy now, we adjust to that and sometimes come back. I often get to preach at a door. Most of the time if I go out for 1 to 2 hours, I get to preach at least a good portion of the gospel at least once. I have written about this here and somewhere else and I'll try to link to that to explain it further.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Look at this.

http://jackhammer.wordpress.com/2007/03/16/what-does-it-mean-to-believe-in-jesus-christ/

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your response.

Luke

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Micah,

Thomas Ross did a series on this here:

http://kentbrandenburg.blogspot.com/2010/11/biblical-mandate-for-house-to-house.html

http://kentbrandenburg.blogspot.com/2010/11/biblical-mandate-for-house-to-house_14.html

http://kentbrandenburg.blogspot.com/2010/12/biblical-mandate-for-house-to-house.html

http://kentbrandenburg.blogspot.com/2010/12/biblical-mandate-for-house-to-house_09.html

The formatting has a lot to be desired, but he lays out a terrific defense for house-to-house evangelism. I've preached every Gospel except the second half of Luke, which I'm in now, and Jesus went everywhere preaching to everyone.

I don't see it as a method. The method is preaching. Door-to-door is obeying the Bible to preach it to everyone. Sure, we preach to people at work, neighbors, the health club, school, relatives, etc., and I've talked about that here too. We're salt and light, so wherever we are, we're supposed to be preaching, not just in the time frame that we're covering the territory.

Thanks.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Danny,

I don't get where you might think that we're defending Watchtower Society (JWs). We're not. The Bible invented house-to-house, not them

Kent Brandenburg said...

Micah,

One more thing. I was going to write this and got going fast and forgot. You mentioned the strategy that some sales guy uses to get clients, because it works. That's a major point here---we're not thinking about whether it works. We're just making sure that we get to everybody. This is NOT like a sales strategy or technique. (see 1 Cor 1:18-2:5).

Bobby said...

I read some of the posts at SI. Statements about looking and praying for opportunities . . . What more opportunity do you need than the command of the Lord to "preach the gospel to every creature"?

I have heard, "we need to get them in here to give them the Gospel." Huh? If you want to give someone the Gospel then go do it! There are about 7 billion people OUTside of your church building. Go for it.

Jesus gave the Great Commission before His ascension. Acts reveals how the Apostles and early churches understood it. They went everywhere preaching the Gospel, baptizing the ones that believed it, and teaching them " all things."

More ideas or info is not the problem. The issue is simply whether or not to obey.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Bobby,

I so agree.

Some say, "But they don't want to hear it OUT there." If they don't want to hear it, then they aren't ready enough to be saved. A lot of what Jesus said was about that too. It's impossible to find out who wants it and who doesn't want it, if we don't offer it to everyone. I really can't make people like the gospel and it isn't even my job. I find some people willing to listen and many not humble enough to do so.

This last paragraph was just streaming off of what you wrote, Bobby.

Jon Gleason said...

Hi, Kent.

Do you believe in giving out Gospel tracts / leaflets? Do you believe that is a form of preaching the Gospel, or not?

If so, do you believe distributing Gospel tracts / leaflets to every home fulfils the commandment to preach to all, or not?

If someone has a sign on their door that says "No callers, no canvassers," etc, do you knock on their door anyway?

Just wondering.

By the way, the captcha text for commenting has gotten really, really hard to read. Maybe my eyes are getting weak, but I actually had to reload a couple times to get captcha text I could read.

Thomas Ross said...

Dear Micah,

My study, "The Biblical Mandate for House to House Evangelism" is at http://sites.google.com/site/thross7 in the Ecclesiology section.

Dear Pastor Brandenburg,

While obedience to house-to-house will not necessarily make a church bigger, I don't believe I'm willing to say it will make a church smaller. In Acts the churches didn't do promotion and marketing techniques, but went house to house and did street preaching and other Biblical methods, and the gospel spread all over the place. Churches DO grow through following Biblical evangelistic methods. Do they ALWAYS grow when they do so? No, but they frequently do grow when they do so.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thomas,

There is some tongue-in-cheek going on here, obviously. But which method will result in the larger church? That's the question. Sure, a church will get bigger from door-to-door, but not as large as if the church majors on the other non-scriptural and unscriptural methods. However, that "growth" and those numbers are not biblical either, so the church will be affected by the means they got big. I thought this might be obvious to most who read this.

Everyone should know that our church went from zero to what it is through door-to-door. So that is growth.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Jon,

We "try" to preach to everyone, but where we are restricted from doing so, we work around it as much as possible and "tracting," I believe, is the same thing. The U.S. is moving this direction too, because people in gated communities become untouchable by door-to-door. We attempt to get the gospel to everyone, which sounds like it is what you are doing. That is the point. Thanks.

William Dudding said...

Certainly some people give up door to door because it brings on persecution and scorn. I'm not against it, I still do it...recently wrote a blog post about it, but door to door is not a command. Acts 20:20 is not an imperative. If anything it advocates home Bible studies. Paul is addressing the elders and members of the Ephesian church when he says this..he was teaching these people publically and house to house.

Preaching the gospel to everybody, however is a mandate. Our church went to the park yesterday and gave out over 200 hotdogs to people and in the process, we gave out 100 gospel videos, hundreds of tracts and it was a thrill to see our people having gospel conversations with dozens of people over a hotdog through out the day. I got one insulting comment from someone that day, but most people were thankful and listened to the gospel. Jesus did something like that too.

Anonymous said...

By all means, go door to door. And also try William Dudding's method, too. I see nothing wrong with sharing the gospel with those that I meet at work, and on the train, and at the lunch counter...... I'm just concerned that folks might read this and think that you are against anything but door to door. These are simply ways to reach the lost, and I don't see any of them as bad.

Kent Brandenburg said...

William,

I'm glad your people preached the gospel.

Anonymous,

I'm not sure what you're talking about.

Jon Gleason said...

Thanks, Kent. I thought we were probably on the same page on this, but wanted to clarify. We want to spread the Gospel to as many as the Lord enables us to do, trusting him to give the increase.

Anonymous said...

Wilson

Door to door is not about making a church big or small, its about preaching the word of God to those who have not believed so that they may believe and be saved. It is good for you to note that if people run away from you because you are telling them to do the right thing ,you have no case to answer

Anonymous said...

You left out the fact that going door-to-door hurts the health of people who are sick or who have a new baby or otherwise desperately need sleep or to not go to their door and back to see who is ringing. Evangelicals regularly make my health worse by waking me up, when I am severely disabled. You pretend it hurts nothing, but instead of using safe methods to spread the word, you hurt people and most evangelicals do not care that they are outright hurting people. What kind of a good work is that?