Door Knocking Doesn't Work Anymore

Do you remember when preachers all preached about going on door-to-door visitation? By that, I mean cold calls, city surveys, house to house. You walk up to a door picked randomly, knock on it, introduce your church, and inquire about the spiritual state of the soul who lives there. Then, based on the reply, give the gospel and invite that person to accept Jesus as Savior. You leave a little while later with a smile, a hearty handshake, and a promise from them to come visit your church soon.

Does this ever happen anymore? Or are you more likely to have the dogs set on you? Maybe have someone pull a gun in your face? Is this a familiar scenario instead: you knock on the door and all the lights go off. You wait. And wait. And wait. You leave a church tract or information booklet that you know is going to get thrown away in a few minutes, unread.

In the past few years, I have sat across the table from nameless independent, fundamental pastors who have told me, personally, that door knocking doesn't work anymore. Sure, they have a door to door campaign sometime during the nicest weather of the year, when it's not too uncomfortable for their church members. Maybe in conjunction with VBS, which has become the largest evangelical outreach program of the year in many churches!

Does it sadden you when you hear of a pastor who "just doesn't visit anymore"? Maybe he's too old, maybe it's too risky, or maybe his wife tells you, "No one comes when he visits them. He goes to visit newcomers and they stop coming." Soon it's not just contacts he's not visiting, it's cold calls as well. I have recently heard a pastor say that when he is in the hospital with one of his church members awaiting serious surgery, he is often the only preacher in town who shows up for his people, and that he would estimate that three out of four pastors don't even visit their congregation when hospitalized. Does a pastor who does not visit excuse a congregation that does not visit? Of course not, yet we all know the old truism, "You never rise higher than your leadership".

I don't mean for this article to be a critical article. I do want to point out what I am beginning to see as a growing problem and cancer in independent, fundamental baptist churches. I also want to confess my own faithlessness. My pastor started a new campaign at the beginning of this year. "Instead of trying to get a certain number here on Big Day in March, " he said,"I am going to set a goal we need to reach every week. A goal we can make sure we reach, and is dependent on us going out, not on them coming in. The Lord has led me to set 500 doors a week as our goal."

"500 doors a week! Is he insane?! That's crazy! That's unreachable! This is going to be more discouraging when we don't reach it!" my brain said. I didn't openly criticize his leading, but I sure did question it in my head! I didn't say a word to anyone, and I tried to keep my face neutral, but for the next few weeks, every time I heard the goal, I shook my head, mentally.

Does door knocking work? Is it passe? In this day and age of gated communities, "No Solicitation!" stickers, and spread out countryside homes is it even feasible?

"Pastor, what about guard dogs, or even just neighborhood dogs that might be roaming the area? I live in the city, and there are gangs. I live in the country and I can't walk so much. I live in the south and everyone has already been witnessed to. I live in the north and they hate Christians up here ...all I get is doors in the face! I live in the desert and it is just too hot. I live in the mountains, and it's hard to get to a lot of houses."

"People will think we are Jehovah Witnesses or Mormons. I can never find a partner to go with me. Brother So-and-so doesn't go, so why should I? Can't I just witness to the same people I see every day at work? I do leave tracts on the table for waitresses, after all. I even include them in my Christmas cards. Sometimes I hide them in library books!"

"Couldn't our church resources go to something more cost effective and less time consuming? Pastor, we have email now! We have radio and television. I know a church that has a machine that dials everyone in town inviting them to church - it's church telemarketing! They didn't have those medias in the time of Christ. That's why He had them go door to door; it was the only way to get the word out."

"We should take up an offering to buy a TV spot. We should lobby the city to add a street sign to our church. We should have a better church website. We should purchase a big banner, no, a billboard! That will save everyone the time and effort visitation requires. We should buy a bigger church sign. I have a collection of witty sayings!" Is that the biblical method and model? Could Jesus have not prophesied about our technology and let us know there would be a game plan update?

Last week (week seven of the campaign), the goal was 500, but we had beautiful weather, unlike the blizzard two weeks prior!

Last week, door knocking did not seem to work for 994 doors that our church members, working in groups of two, knocked on.

But God DID WORK on the four doors that were knocked where a soul waiting and ready to accept Christ lived. And it DID WORK in the lives of the six new families that came to church last Sunday as a direct result of the previous week's door-to-door soulwinning visitation.

And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. - Luke 14:22, 23

Are 994 doors worth 4 souls and six families? Thank God for a pastor who still believes in door knocking!


Life in the Bible Institute said...

I am very happy to be able to admit that our Independent Baptist Church is in the habit of soul-winning door-to-door on at least two days of every week. I love to waltz through the isles of Wal-Mart and had out tracts (I just say "Can I share this with you?" politely). No one has ever turned me down. I deliver food to poor families for our pantry ministry and give them the church brochure, ask if they have a church family, and asked them if they are saved. My Pastor says several have come to our church as a result of these visits and some were saved. Door-to-door visitation is still alive and well in Elizabethton, TN at Harvest Baptist Church.

Blessed at Home said...

Our church still goes out every Tues. eve and Sat. AM for Soul Winning and we have tremendous results more then not. :-)