I often have very encouraging conversations with people who are not yet Christians. Many of these are people that I have met through door to door ministry. I have a distinct advantage in that I have known many of these people for somewhere in the region of six or seven years. My first visit, in some sense, was “cold.” But going regularly to the same people means that people get to know me and notice when I am not around. They sometimes complain that I don’t call often enough or they tell me who else I should be visiting.
Some people I have met through door to door visitation have become a part our church, others have been content to talk about spiritual matters in their homes and a few have read the Bible with me.
We are looking for long term relationships where we love each household individually – and we want to take opportunities to share the Gospel that are genuine and go to the heart.
I know that people sometimes want privacy – and it is important to respect this. If people are busy I can always go round another time. But a wonderful privilege in this work is that people have actively invited me into their homes and into their worlds and have spoken openly about the struggles that they face. The degree of openness is sometimes overwhelming.
We want to build genuine relationships in which to share the Gospel. So the last thing I want to be is a door to door salesman that is only interested in his commission. I want people to know that there is a community that loves them, that there is a saviour who loves them. Going round to their flats opens the door to many, many gospel opportunities that are genuine and effective.
It is also true that many of these people will never meet a local Christian unless we take the first step to reach them.
John Stott, in his book “The Living Church” (2007), says this:
Local church evangelism can claim to be the most normal, natural and productive method of spreading the gospel today. First there is the argument from scripture …
Secondly, there is the argument from strategy. Each local church is situated in a particular neighbourhood. Its first mission responsibility must therefore be to the people who live there. The congregation is strategically placed to reach the area around it…
Thus biblical theology and practical strategy combine to make the local church the primary agent of evangelism.
My personal view is that door to door ministry, done sensitively and regularly, can make a contribution towards fulfilling this ambition.
Door to door visitation is a great way to build strong relationships between the local church and local people. The goal is for the same person to visit the same people to win them for Christ’s sake. We try to visit them every three months. Often, those conversations are about the common things of life but we are building trust with people and forming a long term relationship. As a result, we have many conversations about the Lord, people are invited (and come) to our Church, we strengthen our relationship with local people and build a strong network with the community around us.
Today, I am attending the funeral of a man that I met through door to door visitation. I have a very good relationship with his family, some of whom I have also met through visitation to a different address. Several people I have met in this way are now coming to St. James – and they are very much a part of our church community. Some are reading the Bible with me regularly. Many of the people I know might never meet a Christian otherwise. Meeting them this way means they have the opportunity to hear the Gospel, be invited and respond.
What do you think about door to door visitation? And what can make it easier or more difficult?
Where you get your information, knowledge and beliefs says a lot about who you are. Do your beliefs come from the Internet, your newspaper, your mum, your workmates? What you believe depends on your priorities.
So your worldview matters; but the way you apply and share your worldview matters as well. Knowledge can be shared – and if you happen to be in the circles where accurate knowledge is shared you will do well.
Many want people to benefit from knowledge and they will pass that on. But some will share knowledge only with people in their own circle.
We have the privilege of knowing the truth – because we have God’s word. How we use that knowledge will have a profound effect on those we choose to share it with and those we withhold it from.
We are called to “Go … and make disciples of all nations.” Our decisions about where we do or do not take that Gospel will have a profound effect on the information, knowledge and beliefs people around us acquire.
So, where should we place the boundaries for Gospel proclamation?