Newsjournal of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan | March 2023 | Volume 67, Number 3
FIRST PERSON: DOOR-TO-DOOR EVANGELISM ACTUALLY WORKS
by Alex Sibley – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
FORT WORTH, TX (BP) – The efficacy of door-to-door evangelism -- or any type of cold-call evangelism -- is often called into question. In fact, I myself have expressed doubt whether such evangelistic efforts actually "work."
Perhaps these doubts stem from cynicism. "Surely people in this culture won't respond well to strangers showing up at their door unannounced," we say, "interrupting their day for the sake of sharing a message that they most likely will not understand." People (myself included) have used such sentiments to justify not doing evangelism.
Photo courtesy RT Images)
Though I, unfortunately, still entertain such thoughts from time to time, I happily admit that my years at Southwestern Seminary have made it more and more difficult to maintain such a position.
Through its "Going the Second Mile" evangelism initiative, Southwestern sends teams of students into the surrounding community to do door-to-door evangelism five days a week. Since this initiative began in fall 2013, at least one person has professed faith in Christ for the first time every week. Last semester on Fridays alone, 43 people became followers of Christ as a result.
When people try to argue that door-to-door evangelism doesn't work, one needs simply to point them to these statistics. "The evidence clearly invalidates your assertion," one could say.
So how can people still doubt? Though some may argue that such evangelism does not produce true professions of faith, this argument is easily dispelled by Jesus' parable of the sower in Matthew 13. The job of the sower (that is, the evangelist) is to sow seed (the Gospel); how the seed is received depends not on the sower but the soil. In the case of door-to-door evangelism, that means we, as Christians, are responsible for sowing seed; whether it produces "true" professions of faith is in God's hands. This argument, therefore, cannot be used to justify not doing evangelism.
All smokescreens aside, I think the reason people "doubt" the efficacy of cold-call evangelism is because they are afraid to do it themselves. I know that was certainly a factor for me. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit would not let me get away with not doing what He had called me to do, so when the opportunity arose for me to go out with a "Second Mile" team on Friday, April 22, I took it.
I was placed with two other students and associate professor of missions Mike Morris. We knocked on doors, and when people answered, Dr. Morris began the conversations. Then, if the listeners were willing, he invited one of the students to
share the Gospel. All three of the students on my team had the chance to share, and we personally saw three people saved (all the teams combined saw 10 people saved that day).
I admit I was uncomfortable when Dr. Morris so casually dropped the "diagnostic" question: "If you were to die today and stand at the gates of heaven, and God asked you why He should let you in, what would you say?" To my (pleasant) surprise, no one slammed the door in our faces. Instead, they did something that should not have surprised me: They answered the question.
When they responded with "I don't know" or with a works-based answer, we shared the Gospel. And when we asked if they wanted to respond to the Gospel message, three of them did something that also should not have surprised me: they said "yes."
It was pretty surreal at the time, but the reality of what happened began to sink in about an hour afterward. People got saved. They were previously dead in their sins, but after hearing the Gospel, they placed their faith in Christ and were born again. Previously, they were bound for an eternity in hell, but now by the grace of God, an eternity in heaven with their Savior awaits them.
Wow. Door-to-door evangelism actually worked.
The evidence was already undeniable, but it was not until I personally did door-to-door evangelism that I finally realized a simple truth that Southwestern has been trying (really hard) to impress upon me: Door-to-door evangelism works. I realize that some people do evangelism over and over again and never see anybody come to Christ, so I am not asserting that door-to-door evangelism produces converts every time (nor am I asserting that door-to-door evangelism is the only acceptable method for sharing the Gospel).
But when we are faithful to sow the seed, it invariably falls on good soil, and the trajectory of people's lives is changed for all eternity.
I sympathize with those who find the notion of door-to-door evangelism discomforting, even fear-inducing. But isn't it worth risking discomfort and bearing the pain of fear to see people get saved?