Witnessing: Door to Door Gospel Work

Years ago, former US president Jimmy Carter was jotting his notes down as he prepared to speak on Christian witnessing at a church in Preston, Georgia. Each year in preparation for a week of revival meetings, he, along with others, would knock on doors in his community. He estimated he’d done about 140 homes over his 14 years of involvement. He proudly thought what a great impact it would have to share this with his listeners. His thoughts went to when he’d run for governor of the state of Georgia in 1966. He recalled how doggedly he’d kept on the campaign trail, logging long hours and days. He felt he had probably met some 300,000 people in the process. Suddenly he was struck with the contrast – 300,000 visits for himself in 3 months, and 140 visits for God in fourteen years!

Who hasn’t been aware of spending a disproportionate amount of time, energy, and resources on things for self? The challenge of long ago, at the eleventh hour of the day was, “Why stand ye here all the day idle?” (Matt 20:6).

It would be blind sighted to propose door to door work for every believer. Nor would it do to champion one outreach method to the exclusion of other ways.

As a marketing tool, door to door canvassing is used successfully both secularly and religiously. It might not gain you huge numbers, but you will get great opportunities. In no given outreach is everyone wanting the gospel. However, some will listen, accept tracts, and even agree to further visits. “Sow thy seed…for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good” (Eccles11:6).The cults have given such work a black eye, but let’s not use that as an excuse.

Is it Biblical?

Yes. At Ephesus, Paul “showed [them] and taught [them], publickly and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:20, 21). Door to door work is nothing mysterious, just one of a myriad of ways of talking with individuals.

The personal touch is key

Jerry Rice, longtime star for the San Francisco 49ers, is considered one of the greatest receivers in the history of football. Once, Black Entertainment Television asked Rice, “Why did you attend a small, obscure university like Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Benna, Mississippi?” Rice responded, “Out of all the big-time schools (such as UCLA) to recruit me, MVSU was the only school to come to my house and give me a personal visit.” The big-time schools sent cards, letters, and advertisements, but only one showed Rice personal attention. Note Paul’s approach: “So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us” (1 Thess 2:8). It is still true that the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

Take your Bible

You can hide your weapon or have it openly visible. You judge. But, best of all, use it, either in quoting or in showing them (better!) what it says. This puts them in direct contact with the most potent source in the universe. “The Word of God is quick and powerful” (Heb 4:12). But with a Bible in one hand, don’t pass out unbiblical literature in the other. Censor the materials you give. Many gospel tracts are weak doctrinally. They ask people to confess their sins to be saved or to say a “sinner’s prayer” or “decision for Christ” at the end.

Beware of trying to save them yourself. You can’t. Always exercise caution, but especially when a soul is close to the door. Leave them with clear gospel passages, pray and retreat. Allow room for God to work. Lacking omniscience, its very easy to misread your listener. They might in fact be far from getting saved. It’s not essential to the birth process that you be the spiritual mid-wife. “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9).

Look for common ground

Nearly everyone resents the more prominent groups who come to the door. Explain this as your reason – to counter rampant error. Most will quickly agree, unless they happen to belong to one of these groups. In this case, you’ve just won further opportunity. Why? Because you’re at their door, not vice versa. This can be disconcerting to them. Seize the moment, showing you have something that is so distinct from the majority of religions, their’s included.

Seek others more experienced with whom to work. Christ sent them forth “two and two” and this is often a safeguard in circumstances that compromise either spiritual, moral, or physical safety. Avoid the “lone ranger” mentality. Throughout the gospels and the Acts, wokers moving in fellowship together often seemed to mark the work.

Don’t be discouraged

That door with no one home might be among those who would have refused you had you met them in person. In private, they might read the very message they would have disdained to your face. You’re responsible to the issue, not for it. Its not necessarily your fault if there is rejection. Even if it were, no one’s presentation is faultless. God’s “strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9).

Remember that what God is doing in you may be more important than what He is doing through you. Gospel work can develop patience, maturity, experience, dependence on God, humility, perser-verance, prayer, depth, vision, and burden for souls. It will lead to understanding in handling different people and beliefs and skill in use of the “sword of the Spirit.” It will inject life into your gospel-preaching and your Bible study.

As with any gospel work – your soul full of “the joy of thy salvation,” your heart conditioned by prayer, and your life modeled after His is more important than all the best strategies, techniques and answers in the world. “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt 4:19).