Door-to-Door Evangelism Really Works?
by David Dunlap
In 1960, D. James Kennedy graduated from
seminary and began preaching at the Coral Ridge Church in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
After just eight months of ministry there, the congregation dwindled from 45 to
17 believers. Although he was very discouraged about what was happening, he
would not give up. He realized the problem was that he lacked courage to
confront unbelievers with the truth of the gospel. To his surprise, he was
invited to Decatur, GA to conduct a gospel campaign for ten days. He preached
each evening, but during the mornings and afternoons, he received training and
visited homes, presenting the gospel door-to-door. Those experiences at the
doorways of the unsaved would transform his ministry completely. After the
evangelistic campaign he returned to the Coral Ridge Church, where he
implemented the principles he had learned in Georgia--he called these
principles "Evangelism Explosion". By presenting unsaved men and women with the
claims of the gospel on their doorsteps, the Coral Ridge Church grew from 17
individuals to over 2,000 in nine years . These simple door-to-door
evangelistic principles would be the means of winning thousands to Christ in
the United States and in 93 other lands throughout the world.
Door to Door Evangelism Answers It's Critics
Door-to-door evangelism is one of the few
ways that each family in a city can be reached with the gospel. The Lord has
effectively used this method throughout the history of the church, from the
time of the early church(Acts 20:20) to the modern day. Today, church leaders
are calling for renewed efforts in teaching and training Christians how to use
door-to-door evangelism, proving the timelessness of this evangelistic method.
In a study of the fastest growing 576 Southern Baptist churches in the U.S.,
Southern Baptist researcher Dr. Thomas Rainer concluded that traditional
door-to-door evangelism was still a very useful evangelistic method. In the
churches surveyed, 50.2% of these churches ranked weekly door-to-door
evangelism as one of their most effective evangelistic tools. Bill
Hohenstreet, of Post Falls Baptist Church in Post Falls, Idaho states that
door-to-door visitation was critical to their evangelistic outreach. He
explained that their primary outreach efforts were door-to-door, cold-call
visitation, and Tuesday evening visitation using a prospect list. This church
of two hundred saw forty-eight individuals come to faith in Jesus Christ and
baptized in 1996.
"Churches that rated door-to-door evangelism highly did not believe that it was
any less effective or resistance to visits was any greater than in years past."
Churches throughout the United States are beginning to find that consistent
evangelistic visitation, when followed up with literature, Bible study, and
hospitality are effective means in winning the lost to Christ.
Nevertheless, door-to-door evangelism is not
without its critics. Since 1973 church growth experts have unwisely labeled
this method as old-fashioned and ineffective in modern society. However,
recent studies have challenged the validity of these widely-held convictions of
church growth researchers. Thomas Rainer, who conducted a survey of the
fastest growing churches, speaks of this issue when he writes,
"But what about the studies of growing churches which made the conclusion that
traditional door-to-door evangelism was on the decline? The research of those
studies was based on growing churches, not necessarily churches that were
increasing in size by conversion growth. In fact, many of the churches were
hardly growing at all through new converts, but by Christians who were leaving
one church to join another. Additionally, the other studies rarely looked at
more than forty to fifty churches; our research is based upon a study of over
The results of this recent study have soundly contradicted the
tenaciously-held beliefs of church growth experts. This fact has caused
concern among many church leaders, and has led them to re-examine their
evangelistic methods. Many are beginning to see that traditional methods are
indeed Biblical, important, and effective means for producing conversion growth
Door to Door Evangelism Works!
Evangelism is not a special activity for
special people at special times. It is the normal activity of all Christians
as the Lord gives opportunity. A church's evangelistic effort should be a blend
of youth and children's ministries, evangelistic Bible studies, prayer, regular
gospel campaigns, and individual witnessing. But church leaders are coming to
the conclusion that door-to-door evangelism is an essential if a church is
serious about contacting an entire community for Christ. Some churches have
been content to arrange a series of meetings for the gospel and to send out
newspaper announcements inviting the unsaved to attend. In many cases, the
result has been the glorious salvation of souls. Yet prior to the gospel
meetings, many in a community were never contacted about the meetings, they
were never spoken to in person, and an announcement was never personally
delivered after a brief presentation of the gospel. Some of the most effective
evangelistic organizations have used door-to-door visitation in presenting the
gospel. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, since its inception, has
placed a high premium on the need for door-to-door visitation prior to the
nightly preaching of the gospel. The Billy Graham Team in each of its gospel
crusades, mobilizes thousands of workers to contact the unsaved door-to-door.
In October, 1998 in Tampa, FL, the Billy Graham Crusade Team organized 3,000
workers from 100 churches to visit 300,000 homes over a three-day period one
week prior to the Crusade. The Tampa Crusade chairman Peter Lowe said,
"The promotional campaign is important, but we think this personalized approach
is the most effective of all."
There is a great need not only to invite the unsaved to hear the gospel, but
to take the gospel to the unsaved. Presenting Christ door-to-door puts the
"go" back into evangelism and emphasizes the "woe" of personal responsibility.
George Verwer, the founder of the international missionary organization
Operation Mobilization, writes,
"Without a doubt the most effective means of getting the gospel message to the
unsaved is by taking it to them. That is where the bottleneck lies. The
evangelistic method of the Apostle Paul was not so much a 'You come hear me'
evangelism, as it was an 'I'll bring it to you' evangelism. Paul was a great
officer in the army of the Lord, a man of intellect and influence, but he never
stopped knocking on doors to witness for His Lord. Yet today it is very
difficult to find Christian men and women who are willing to go from house to
house witnessing and distributing literature to the unconverted. Satan is a
master strategist; he will do everything to keep us from eye-to-eye contact
with the unconverted."
Assembly workers and evangelists have carried
the gospel door-to-door effectively for many years. This type of labor in the
gospel is spiritually demanding, yet profitable and effective. John Martin has
labored for many years in Ontario, and through his efforts as many as 10
assemblies have been established. His efforts in the gospel and the blessing
which followed attest to the fruitfulness, and also sacrifice, inherent in
door-to-door evangelism. In the book Saved to Serve he writes,
"All of these assemblies referred to represent a great deal of hard work. Much
visitation was done in all of these areas. The attendance at the Bible studies
was sometimes discouraging, but perseverance and patient, persistent plodding
brought its reward."
Evangelist August Van Ryn, recounting the way God used his efforts in
speaking to the unsaved door-to-door, writes,
"I shall never forget our first season in the city of Owosso, Michigan.
Another young brother and myself covered the town with tracts and printed
invitations, going from door to door. It took several weeks to do this. I
shall never forget the sight that met our eyeswhen we came to the tent for the
first evening meeting. We were amazed to see its 500 capacity crowded to the
doors and hundreds more standing on the outside. And how wonderfully God
blessed His word in the salvation of many precious souls."
The "How" of Door to Door Evangelism
How can we see blessing in our own
evangelistic efforts? How can assemblies today reach their communities for
Christ? How does one go about presenting Christ door-to-door? Many who have
labored in this work have found the following principles very useful:
1. When you go--have a specific goal in mind.
Some go with the general purpose of distributing tracts or giving a word of
witness. But many have found that it is more effective to have an announcement
to a gospel meeting, Vacation Bible School, Awana club, or home Bible study to
offer one who is responsive to the gospel.
2. Use literature wisely. Many have
effectively used tracts, Bible portions, and gospel booklets. The booklet
"Ultimate Questions" has been very effective. Some find it very fruitful to
offer a card with which one could order an Emmaus Correspondence course, which
the chapel can provide. A New Jersey assembly used this method in their
community and 32 persons responded to the offer.
3. Follow up contacts. Many opportunities
have been lost due to a failure to follow up effectively. Those who show
interest should be revisited and offered suitable literature, such as a book,
cassette tape of a gospel message, or a fitting Emmaus course. Contacts should
receive a follow-up phone call and an invitation to a home Bible study or to a
one-to-one study. A lunch or dinner invitation should be extended, as many
have come to Christ over the dinner table.
4. Read helpful books concerning door-to-door
evangelism. Two of the most helpful are "The ABC's of Door to Door
Visitation" by Ron Smith, STL Books, PO Box 28, Waynesboro, GA. And
"Evangelism Explosion" by D. James Kennedy, Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton,
5. Organize a Gospel team in your area.
Gospel teams laboring for Christ in tract distribution, open-air preaching, and
door-to-door evangelism have been used very effectively. These teams have
covered cities, such as Little Rock, AK, or smaller communities, such as Key
West, FL and Citrus Park, FL. These efforts can be limited to a Saturday, a
weekend or an entire week. The training in the gospel, witnessing for Christ,
laboring in prayer, the joy of souls saved is a life-transforming experience.
After a weekend outreach in Florida a worker wrote,
"The outreach was such a blessing to me and I will never forget it...the times
of prayer and the fellowship together were fantastic...I wish we could do this
May God mightily use all your efforts in the gospel to reach the lost,
spiritually transform the saints, and most importantly, to bring glory to the
Lord Jesus Christ.
(1). D. James Kennedy,
Wheaton, IL, Tyndale House Publishers, 1977, p. 6
(2). Thomas Rainer,
Effective Evangelistic Churches,
Nashville, TN, Broadman, 1996, p. 20
(3). Thomas Rainer,
Effective Evangelistic Churches,
Nashville, TN, Broadman, 1996, p. 19, 41
Crusaders Raise Profile,
Tampa Tribune, October 17, 1998
(5). George Verwer,
Send The Light Books, Bromley, England, 1977, p. 11
(6). John Martin,
Saved to Serve,
Gospel Folio Press, Grand Rapids, MI, 1994, p. 54
(7). August Van Ryn,
60 Years in His Service,
Truth for Today, Hialeah, FL, 1996, p. 23
"The gospel is a fact, therefore tell it simply.
The Gospel is an entrusted fact, therefore tell it faithfully.
The Gospel is a joyful fact, therefore tell it cheerfully
The Gospel is a fact of great importance, therefore tell it earnestly.
The Gospel is a fact of infinite love, therefore tell with passion.
The Gospel is a fact about a person, therefore preach Christ.."
"Could a mariner sit idle if he heard the drowning cry?
Could a doctor sit in comfort and just let his patients die?
Could a fireman sit idle, let men burn and give not hand?
Can you sit at ease in Zion with the world around you DAMNED?"
"It is my firm conviction that no Christian is in a right condition, if he is
not seeking in some way to bring souls to Christ."
C. H. Macintosh
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