Door to Door Evangelism
by Paul Hazelden


Introduction

As with any Christian work, if door to door evangelism is going to be effective, it must move through three phases:

  1. prayer;
  2. planning; and
  3. perspiration.

Or, to be more precise:

  1. prayer;
  2. prayer and planning; and
  3. prayer, planning and perspiration.

After all, the prayer does not stop just because the planning starts, and they must both continue once the real work begins.

Door to door evangelism is only one approach to evangelism. It does not replace guest services, open air preaching, home visitation, schools work or friendship evangelism, but it works alongside the other techniques as part of a holistic evangelistic strategy.

Prayer

Only through prayer will the church receive a vision for what God wants to do through a door to door programme.

The prayer must be guided by the Holy Spirit, in conformity with God's truth as revealed in the Bible. But it should also be guided by a clear understanding of the purpose and objectives of door to door evangelism.

  Vision

The church leadership must share in the prayer, and must share the vision. The activity must be talked about from the front of the church services. It must be recognised as a valued part of church life, and the people who do it must be honoured.

But all of this background is only relevant if the people involved really believe that God loves the world so much that He wants us to reach out to the people in our neighbourhood. People who are motivated by guilt make bad evangelists! We want people who are motivated by God's love, and a desire to do His work His way. We want people who are spiritually healthy - who know His presence in their lives, and who can communicate that presence.

We should pray for three aspects of God's truth to become real to us.

  1. We live in the middle of a spiritual battle, and this battle has eternal consequences. What we do really matters!
  2. People without Christ are really lost
  3. God is already at work in the world, drawing people to Himself.

This means that all our evangelistic activity must have its origin in prayer, and must be constantly sustained through prayer.

  Purpose

The primary purpose of door to door work is to build bridges between the local church and the community.

On the Singelhurst scale, door to door work is part of the church's 'Sowing Level One' strategy. If people get saved or helped in other ways, that should be seen as a bonus.

  Objectives

The objectives of door to door work are therefore:

Planning

The three main components of planning are:

It's hard to know where to begin. But that's okay.

To get started, it really doesn't matter which streets you choose - just pick a set of streets which seem halfway plausible, and target those. You'll get feedback in various ways to help you refine the target area once you have started.

You don't have to limit yourself to residential areas. Some businesses might be willing to allow you to leave literature, use their staff noticeboards. Once they get to know you, you might even get recognised as a kind of industrial chaplain - this often works well.

It's probably helpful to begin small and target only those streets you can return to maybe 3 or 4 times a year. As more people join in, expand outwards, sideways, or whatever.

Why should the JWs and Mormons be the only people to reach out to our neighbours?

It's all part of going to the people, instead of waiting for them to come to us. Even if the evangelism achieves nothing else, it says: we care enough about you to get off our backsides and call on you. If only the cults care enough to call on people, what does that say about us?

But it does help if the door-to-door is done well...

Advantages and Disadvantages

  Advantages

The advantages of door to door work:

  Disadvantages

The disadvantages of door to door work:

Varieties of Door to Door

There are many options open to people doing door to door work. One of the basic questions is: will you be knocking on the doors, or just distributing something? Sometimes it clearly needs to be one or the other, but on other occasions the people doing the distribution can be given the freedom to choose.

The other big question concerns how many times people will be expected to call or call back. If you can schedule the work and be confident it will be completed in that time, people will be much more likely to join in. If they have to call back several times, or until someone answers the door, only the really dedicated will volunteer.

Strategy for Door to Door

To be effective, door to door work needs to be...

Regular visits are important, but this does not mean you can only visit places on the agreed schedule! If someone notices that someone has just moved in, arrange to visit them and leave a 'Welcome to our area' pack from the church - you do have one, don't you?

Or if a church member hears that someone down the street is sick, lost a job, had a partner walk out, is struggling with depression, or whatever - arrange a visit. Make it clear whether the person visiting is supposed to know about the problem - it is usually okay. "Someone told us that you... and thought you might appreciate a visit and someone to talk to. Can we help?"

It is worth checking your pastoral arrangements at this point... Are the existing church members visited when they are having difficulties? You can't really get people into the church on the basis of loving pastoral support, and then dump them once they have made a commitment!

Implementing the Strategy

It is always difficult to get many people involved with this kind of work, but there are things you can do to make it easier for people to volunteer. Or, things that can be done - it doesn't have to be you.

The fastest way to get volunteers is to ask people to volunteer during a church service. Pass the packs to people in their seats, there and then. But this is not a good technique if you want to vet who is involved.

It can help to give people an idea of the sort of time commitment involved, if they have not been involved before. For straightforward leafleting in a suburban area with small front gardens, it is reasonable to average two houses a minute, which works out at 120 an hour. Of course, if you are planning to talk, it will be a lot slower.

Some points to be careful about.

The distributors must leaflet every house and flat in their patch. This includes church members and other known Christians! There are several reasons for this.

If the church has never done any systematic distribution in the past and you really don't have details of the number of houses in each street, you can get the basic details from the Post Office's Postcode book for the area, but this needs to be filled out with a bit more information. Some ground work is needed before you begin.

Divide the parish up into a number of blocks. A block may be a street, several streets, or part of a street. The blocks should be roughly equal in size: between 30 and 50 houses is a good number. The blocks should be well-defined, so that the people doing the distribution are in no doubt as to whether a particular property is included in their block.

Remember that some people will be doing the door to door - maybe for the first time - in the dark, and many house numbers are completely missing, or hard to find even in daylight.

For example:

Block 1: Blaise Walk
Properties   Blaise Walk, Odds: 1-15, 19-23
Blaise Walk, Evens: 2 - 44
Others: None
Total 34
Notes The houses at each end of Blaise Walk belong to the adjoining roads.
Mr Smith at no. 17 does not want church literature, but will take other local community notices.

When You Go Out

  Before you go

A basic check list before you go out.

  What to take

You should take the following items with you.

  What to say

  What to do

  What to record

First, the equipment: some people prefer a clipboard, some a pocket notebook because it looks less 'official'. There is nothing wrong with looking like you know what you are doing! If you use a clipboard, try to find one with a fold-over cover - they are better when it rains.

You should record:

Safety on the Streets

We need to be responsible in the area of personal safety. This must include:

But it is worth noting that it is very rare for anyone to be attacked while doing door to door work. It must have happened, but this is not a high-risk activity. People, even ungodly people, are generally reluctant to hurt Clergy and other 'God' people.

  Precautions

There are some simple precautions you can take.

  Reactions

If you do find yourself in a potentially dangerous situation...

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