Do the attitudes of people in general prevent someone from preaching the gospel door-to-door? No. Is the major problem with door-to-door preaching that people do not want strangers there uninvited? Is it "the secluded disposition so prevalent among much of suburbia"? Is it "the unsolicited presence is so intrusive and overbearing as to prevent the sharing of the gospel"?
I would call my efforts a large enough sample size. I've been preaching the gospel here in Northern California, just north of Berkeley, door-to-door (among other ways) for twenty-five years. The door-to-door itself hasn't been what has stopped preaching the gospel. When someone goes door-to-door and when he does, he preaches the gospel, then he preached the gospel. If you preached the gospel to someone, then that's what you were wanting to do. The percentage is so high of the times that I do preach the gospel that one could say assuredly that I always get to preach the gospel when I go door-to-door. Does that sound like a successful method? I would say so.
Just as a sample, I can start with what happened this last week up in Sacramento area. I went out for three hours and I talked to three people for an average of an hour apiece. In each case, I preached the gospel. How does three-for-three sound for percentages? Three houses. Three at-homes. Three gospel presentations. Isn't that what it's all about?
I'm talking to the people in the country least likely to want to listen. And I always get to preach the gospel. What kind of statistic do you think, always-get-to-preach-the-gospel, is? I agree that people don't want to go because they don't want to have strangers visit their house uninvited. I agree that people don't want to go because they have a "secluded disposition." I agree that people don't want to go because they don't like "the unsolicited presence...so intrusive and overbearing." But when I go to a door, that's not actually what occurs. People talk to me. I talk to them. They listen. And I preach the gospel to them. This means I preach the gospel to a lot of people.
(I don't like the terminology "share the gospel." It is weak. It is non-scriptural, if not unscriptural. Sharing implies reciprocation---there is none with a lost person. You aren't really sharing with them. I like the Bible term "preaching." You should preach the gospel to people, not share the gospel with them. It's attempting to make something non-offensive that is by nature offensive.)
A few weeks ago, I wrote about what success was in evangelism. Success is preaching the gospel. If you preach it, you've succeeded. I hope you notice that I didn't talk about results. That's not your goal. Yours is to preach it. God gives the increase. The people who place themselves on God's side are the ones who will be a failure. They have to produce something in the nature of a profession. You'll find them talking about people's dispositions, that they won't like your unsolicited presence. You've got to figure out ways to talk to everyone that does not include an offensive or awkward start to the conversation. The Bible says nothing about this, and these are usually the same people that harp about extra-scriptural standards and going beyond Scripture in application. And this is almost their entire program with regards to church growth, that is, the extra-scriptural, humanly cooked-up program or strategy. Meanwhile, not everybody gets an opportunity to hear, but they're not so concerned about that, obviously.
At this point, I draw your attention to the Calvinists, who are thinking about all the different strategies and techniques related to people being converted. This is where I say I believe more in the sovereignty of God than Calvinists. They are the ones concerned about the props. They are the ones that put the pressure on themselves to concoct something unoffensive to lost people. There are lost people all over the place. And they act like this is rocket science. It isn't. When you walk out the door, the lost are everywhere. The problem is the not preaching to them.
Meanwhile, I just walk up to people and start talking to them, and then preach the gospel to them. You may ask, "You mean, you can do that?" Uh-huh. You can just start having a spiritual conversation and turn it into a preaching time to a lost person. I've found that today, normally, people want you to cut right through the small talk. Get right to the point. So you should. I do. Our church does that. If you are wondering about the amount of results we see, again, you are missing the point of evangelism. Evangelism is to preach the gospel. That's what it means. Will people be saved? A very small minority. But that doesn't mean you are not a success, because that part of the equation is not your responsibility. God authored Scripture, the gospel, did what it took for people to be saved. The Holy Spirit uses God's Word. You unleash it, and understand that it is the power necessary for the result God would want. And yet, people still won't listen, won't respond right, will rebel. You have some strongly consider it, but still reject it. You'll have some make false professions. You'll have some that will stick.
I never run out of people to preach the gospel to. And yet, evangelicals and fundamentalists act as though they and we have. It's too bad. This is where I see that their churches have become about them, about the people themselves, and not about God. God wants to be talked about. He wants to be revealed everywhere by the preaching of His Words. We should just do that and leave everything else up to Him. Even when people don't receive, He gets glorified among the heathen. Does that sound like a success to you? But that's not good enough for evangelicals and fundamentalists today. That's not worth their time. So that shows you what their true love for God is. It is not very much or none at all. And anathema, Maranatha to those who don't love the Lord Jesus Christ.
Truly these people don't take the time to preach the gospel to people and wide swaths of population haven't heard in the United States, with all of our Bibles and training institutions and tens of thousands of dollars for church-plant launches, where clever glossy postcards are sent out with bait-and-switch. I'm not talking about Jack Hyles. I'm talking about mainstream evangelicals that would put Jack Hyles to shame with their stuff. I see it all the time. Some are busy writing their movie reviews and posting their latest favorite rock song. They'll write all about the gospel. And they'll correct a Jehovah's Witness if he happens to come to the door, and then do a series on what he said to the JW in his comments. But actually cover some territory with gospel preaching? Uh-uh. Nope. People don't want that, he says. I'm telling you, however, that's just not the case. You will have people willing to hear, if you go. So what are you waiting for?