Door to Door Evangelism
by Paul Hazelden
As with any Christian work, if door to door evangelism is going
to be effective, it must move through three phases:
- planning; and
Or, to be more precise:
- prayer and planning; and
- 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
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.
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
- We live in the middle of a spiritual battle, and this battle
has eternal consequences. What we do really matters!
- People without Christ are really lost
- 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.
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.
The objectives of door to door work are therefore:
- to establish contact between the church and the local community;
- to communicate a positive image of the local church; and
- to establish the credibility of the local church in two areas:
- answers to life's ('spiritual') problems
- pastoral care
The three main components of planning are:
- training; and
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
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
The advantages of door to door work:
- Door to door work is easy. Depending on what you are asking people to
do, almost anyone can do it. No special or rare skills are required.
- There is generally some flexibility in the timing of door to door
work, so people can fit it in around their other commitments.
- It reaches the whole community, not just a special group.
- Like all outreach, it communicates that the church is interested
enough in people to go out to them. The church is not just an
- It avoids leaving this area of outreach to the Mormons and Jehovah's
- It opens up useful contacts for far more than simple evangelism.
- It is reasonably cheap as a means of outreach, and easy to organise.
- It provides a good context in which people can start personal
The disadvantages of door to door work:
- Door to door work should be done in teams of two or three people - and
always in teams when done by ladies. Ideally, it should be done by
mixed-sex teams - which are not always easy to organise.
- Some forms of door to door work are not suitable for younger people.
- It is difficult to motivate people to do this work, although when they
start, many people find it much easier and more enjoyable than expected.
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.
- Literature. General Christian literature - tracts, gospels,
etc. More effective when it is locally produced, or at least locally
- Gifts. Special gifts for special occasions - battery powered
candles at Christmas, for example, or the 'Jesus Video' as part of a
- Publicity. Publicity and 'personal' invitations can be
distributed. This works better for special meetings that the public
will be interested in, or for significant events in the church
calendar or church life, but anything can be publicised this way.
- News. Ordinary information about the church: this is what we are
doing. Reminding people we are still here, and offering these
services. Can be made more interesting and relevant to people by
including personal stories: nothing exciting, but stories about God
working in ordinary ways in the lives of ordinary local people.
- Help. You can offer to pray for people, or help them in some
- Questionnaires. This one must involve knocking on the doors!
Strategy for Door to Door
To be effective, door to door work needs to be...
- Regular. If you contact people once every other year, most
people will feel you don't really care about them, no matter how
good your literature is.
- Consistent. Decide how often to contact people, and stick to it.
Make that level of contact a priority.
- Attractive. Badly produced publicity reflects poorly on the
church. Do some market-testing to discover what the people you are
reaching out to consider attractive. You may be surprised!
- Relevant. What are the main needs and issues facing your area?
Concentrate on these, not ignoring items of more general interest.
- Geographical. Decide on your parish, and stick to that. It is
better to do a good quality door to door ministry to half a dozen
streets than a poor ministry to fifty. Expand your area as your
- Generous. Never collect money for your church or its
projects. Occasionally, you can collect money for some recognised
secular need - Christian Aid is a good example, but never
for the church roof. Always take something to give away.
- Supervised. You need some basic record keeping and
administration for door to door work to succeed.
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.
- First, decide where you want people to distribute. A marked area
on the map - or a list of streets - is helpful for two reasons.
Firstly, it enables the church to prioritise. Some parts are more
strategically important (or should be, at least!) than others.
Listing them will help ensure that they, at least, get covered. And
secondly, it makes the job achievable. Without a boundary, the job
is (or, at least, seems to be) infinite. People need to feel that
they can make a difference: if there are 20 streets to be done, by
doing one street, they are completing a significant part of the
task. Even if there are 200 streets being targetted, you know you
have made a contribution towards achieving the goal. It may not
make logical sense, but it is the way people work.
- Second, determine how many houses and/or flats there are there in
each of the streets you want covered. If people know how many
houses, they know the size of their commitment, and they are more
likely to volunteer. If I know one street has 50 houses and another
150, I can choose between them depending on how much time I can
spare. If I don't know, I may fear the longer street could have 300
houses or more, and decide I don't have time to commit to anything.
By making the task measurable, you make it more achievable, and get
- Third, prepare the literature. People really do not want to spend
their time at the end of a chuch service counting out leaflets,
especially if they don't know how many to count out! If you can
parcel up the leaflets into 50 for this street, 42 for that, 178 for
another, people are much more likely to take them.
- And, finally, for this kind of job, you really need to get one of
the church leaders to stand up at the front, wave a pile of leaflets
at everybody, and say: I am going to do this street, it's easy, so would
you all please take the leaflets for one or more streets at the end
of the service, thank you. Sometimes the leaders need to be seen to
be leading by example...
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.
- Do what you promised! If you say someone from the church will
call back, make sure someone calls back. If you promise to pray,
make sure the request is noted and prayed for.
- Provide a mechanism to ensure that all the resulting needs,
requests, etc. are followed up. Somebody must be responsible for
- If you know you can't complete the block, just work systematically until
the time runs out. Then the next time, just start from where you finished.
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.
- It makes sure all the church members have a copy of the
- It means church members know when their street has been done, so
they can talk to their neighbours about what they have just
- It avoids the problem of worried church members contacting the
church leaders, worried that their street has been forgotten.
- It simplifies the administration. Address lists of church
members are always difficult to keep up to date, and you are
almost certain to make mistakes if you aim to miss out the church
members. It really is quicker and easier to leaflet everybody.
- If people are watching you go down the street, they will be
suspicious if you miss out some houses. What do you know
about the people you choose to visit? Are you 'going for' the
weak and vulnerable?
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.
|Block ||1: Blaise Walk
|Properties ||Blaise Walk, Odds: 1-15, 19-23
| ||Blaise Walk, Evens: 2 - 44
| ||Others: None
||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
When You Go Out
Before you go
A basic check list before you go out.
- Check you have everything you need (see below).
- Make sure know what to say.
- Agree on the teamwork strategy. (Will go round on your own,
or in twos or threes? Will you let another team member
know before entering a house?)
- Confirm when and where you will meet up before you leave.
- Pray together - for good contacts, effective use of the
opportunities, and protection from the enemy's attacks.
What to take
You should take the following items with you.
- A record sheet, listing every property you intend to visit with
space to take notes (see below).
- A pen.
- A small - preferably pocket sized - Bible or New Testament.
- A small supply of tracts.
- Contact details - either yourself or someone at the church -
name, address, phone number, times when available, etc.
- Whatever gifts or leaflets you are intending to distribute -
include a few spares.
- Suitable clothing! Comfortable shoes are important. Consider
whether you will need a warm coat or something waterproof.
What to say
- A polite greeting - "Hello," "Good afternoon," or the like
- Identify yourself - "My name is Pat Smith."
- Identify where you are from - "I'm from Saint Egbert's"
- Say why you are there - "We are distributing a Community
Newsletter free to every household in the neighbourhood. Please have
- Open the door to further contact - "If you think of anything we
can do for you, you can get in touch with Fred Bloggs - his details
are on the back of the leaflet."
- Appreciate them - "Thank you for your time. I hope to see
What to do
- Visit everyone - even church members and members of other
- Record the result of the visit (see below)
- Don't be pushy - if they don't want to talk, move on.
- Be confident - God is with you
- Pray constantly
- Pass on any messages or requests - and make sure they are
acted upon. This must include the 'never visit me again'
messages! Be precise when recording the messages.
- If a notice says "No junk mail," it is valid to ask (once!) what
they mean. Would they like the community newsletter delivered or not?
Make sure you record the answer, either way, and act on it.
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:
- The house number!
- The fact that you visited
- Any request
- If the house is uninhabited - for sale, being revovated, or
- Any name the person you were talking with gave you.
Safety on the Streets
We need to be responsible in the area of personal safety. This must
- Praying for safety
- Making the right preparations
- Training beforehand, so people know what to do if anything goes
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.
There are some simple precautions you can take.
- Pray - and ask for others to pray - for your
protection. Not just safety from attacks (physical and
spiritual), but also safety from accidents which would prevent or
hinder your work, and also for good health.
- Let someone know where you are going, and when you are due back.
Make sure they know you have got back safely.
- Go out in teams of two or three, never on your own. Stay in
touch with each other, and keep your eyes open. If it looks like
there might be trouble, get together.
- Don't take with you anything which you really don't
want to get stolen. If you have a gold watch and a wallet
stuffed with notes, leave them at home.
- If possible, take cheap mobile phones with you. If you are going to
be delayed, make sure somebody knows. If you are invited into anyone's
home, ring or text someone to tell them where you are.
- If anyone tries to steal from you, let them have it. Your life and
health are more precious than your stuff.
If you do find yourself in a potentially dangerous situation...
- Pray. "Help!" is perfectly valid in this kind of situation.
- Retreat. Door to door evangelism does not turn
you into a kind of Christian vigilantee. If this is not an
option, or does not work...
- Remain calm, be polite, talk slightly more quietly than usual,
do not attempt any form of humour and be careful of your body language
- avoid appearing agressive.
- Debrief. Talk to the project leader or church leader as soon as
possible, pray together and decide what to do next. You may wish to
remove this address from future contact.