Wednesday, June 06, 2012

How Door-to-Door Evangelism Works

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 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?


Micah said...

Kent, thanks for sharing your passion for the preaching of the gospel. I feel like I track with you, including your sarcastic sentiment about people who would rather blog about the gospel than share the gospel. There is definitely a sub-set of folk who think Jesus must have been a coffee sipping hipster.

Yet I still have some disagreement with your take on this subject. You seem to consistently create a partition with comments that are too general to be substantiated or downright incorrect.
For instance:
"Sharing the gospel" - You said, "You should preach the gospel to people, not share the gospel with them." On whose authority do you issue that statement. Certainly not Scriptural authority. Use of the term "share" in relation to the gospel is biblical both in principle and in literal verbiage. Paul said we share in the blessings of the gospel with people & specifically that he shared not only the gospel, but himself with the Thessalonians. So in your effort to assume a gospel presentation must have a nature of offensiveness, you make a statement counter to what the Bible says. I do not track with you when you add opinions to the gospel.

Another example: You said, " Success is preaching the gospel. If you preach it, you've succeeded." On its face, there is a hint of fact in this statement. But the general statement not completely biblical. The great commission doesn't even mention preaching. Jesus' charge was to make disciples and help them grow. So success is NOT preaching. Biblical success is church growth. It is the full process of moving someone from darkness to light and having them grow in maturity inside the church family. Isolating "success" to preaching, and by extension to D2D ministry, is to generate a false sense of biblical accomplishment. Again, I agree with your general sentiment, but these unguarded statements pull the support from your reasoning.

I don't meant to be antagonistic, I just thought some of your statements were inconsistent with your general desire for ministry.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Micah,

I think you mean to be a little antagonistic. Come on. You start with the word "share" in the first sentence. That says antagonistic all over it, but I take it in good spirit. I'm not backing down on this, because there is too much at stake, that is, giving people more excuses not to preach to everyone. I would say, "Get thee behind me, Satan" to that.

I understand that the Great Commission is the one imperative in Matthew 28:19, matheteuo, "teach" or "make disciples." I know that. But how do you do that? The participle is "go" or "while going," not inviting. Assumed in making disciples is going and preaching. And you have been a success at that if you've preached. See 1 Cor 3.

OK. "Shared." I said I don't like it. I put up with it. And I didn't know it was used in the NIV, ESV, etc., but I don't like the translation. That Greek word doesn't carry with it the meaning of "share" in the English. And again, it is to be soft, because earlier in that same chapter, Paul wrote, "we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention." "Impart," the KJV word, communicates the Greek word, metadidomi, the only use of that word in the NT. I believe the reason metadidomi is used is because of psuche later. He was willing to give not just the gospel, but also his soul, his life. He came to Thessalonica willing to die for those people. That isn't the same sense of "share" that we have in our culture, when that word is used.

Of course, I've never said that door-to-door is the only way--that was one of my listed points in the last post. It isn't an either/or here. I'm saying you've got to have a way to cover all the ground, to get it to everyone, and door-to-door does that. That isn't happening, because the goal has changed to having a big church. You can disagree, but it is what I see all over. So we would disagree on something that I see as blatantly obvious.

Kent Brandenburg said...

By the way, I don't like the word "passion" either, but it's not the biggest deal, like "share" isn't either. I put up with it. I differentiate "passion" from "affection" like Edwards did in his Treatise on Religious Affections. Affections come from the mind and will and passion comes from the body. This is mind/will and then body thing for me, not a body and then emotion or passion thing. I thought I'd share that with you.

Micah said...

Ok, so i was so not being antagonistic with the "share" in the first line. I thought about that. If I had wanted to needle, i would have thanked you for your passion for "sharing the gospel" and put a smiley face. i try to write at face value.

Speaking of "sharing". I actually think you're hung up on a semantic issue. When I use the word "share", I am using it as "communication" "Impartation" "delivery of thought". Grammatically there is no greater force in the word "share" as there is in the word "preach/proclaim". We use adverbs and adjectives to build them up. I can boldly share and boldly preach. One of Paul's repeated prayers was for boldness. The verse you quoted said that, and it was to speak, not necessarily preach. All I'm saying is that preaching the gospel and sharing the gospel are fairly interchangeable in my common vernacular. I guess the distinction for me would be that I generally think of "sharing" when used in a one on one, or small group setting and where there is not an official three points and poem sermon. I think of preaching as more formal communication used for broader audiences. There's really no need to argue over that. But I don't view "sharing" as weak. It's simply terminology.

Same with passion. Where do affectations end and passions begin? I simply mean that burning desire deep inside to do what God has asked us to do via his calling in our lives. Kind of the "Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem" concept. Ain't no turning back - passion.

best wishes...

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks Micah. I'm glad you came over to discuss. The "share" and "passion" things are not convictions with me. I don't believe everyone is getting the gospel for many reasons and I'm wanting to provoke to that particular good work.

Will Dudding said...

Hi Kent,
These posts on door to door are very encouraging and challenging.
Question - how do you get straight to the point with people? What do you tell them when they answer the door? Just simply something like: "Hi, I'm Kent, and I'm here to tell you some good news" ?

I was always taught to do the small talk and then pop the question "if you were were to die today...?"
I never liked doing it that way either, i think straight forward is most honest and wastes the least amount of time...but what do you say so that you can secure yourself the chance for them to listen?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Hi Will,

I'm glad it's challenging and encouraging. I'll probably be writing more, because I actually often do not want to go. I'd rather do something else. But it's a free country we live in and you can still walk right up to someone's door and then talk to them.

When I go to a door, most of the time I start with the same general opening. I introduce myself and the person with me (I usually have someone with me and often my wife). I tell them where we're from and why we're there. I ask them if they have a church. Whether they have one or not, I tell them that church doesn't get anyone to heaven. Then I ask them if they know they are on their way to heaven, have eternal life, are saved. There's more to it, but that's it in general. Sometimes, depending on what the situation looks like, I tell them that I would like to talk to them about the Lord Jesus Christ, about who He is and why He is important.

I don't do small talk with them unless they start small talking and I'll go along with that. Usually they want to know why you're there right away, so I tell them that we're out talking about Jesus, preaching the gospel like Jesus commanded us to do, because we love Him and we love people. If Jesus would leave heaven's throne, we ought to be able to leave our lazy-boy-recliner.

Thanks for asking.

d4v34x said...

Hi Bro B.

Not all Calvinists are worried about the props. Just so you know.

Provocative (in a good way) series.

JC said...

I'm with Will, I like these posts on door-to-door, they are encouraging. Could you tell more stories of your outings? Even if they are door slams or rejections. Me and others who need some encouragement want to know what it is really like going door to door.

Perhaps you can post dialogue of some interesting interactions or some not-so-interesting ones.

Thanks again for your posts, they are encouraging to me as well to stop blogging and start going.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I've thought about writing about the dialogue I have at a door, except that it takes so long to do so that I could be having actual dialogue at a door more. It's a good question and desire though, so I will likely do it sometime. Thanks.

Tyler Robbins said...

Very profound article, and yet so refreshingly simple! It was a blessing and a challenge.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks Tyler.