Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Is “Knocking on Doors” a Good Method of Evangelism?

I would argue that the best method of evangelism is what we might call “integrated evangelism,” which involves living like Christ and speaking of Christ at the baseball fields, in restaurants, in our business relationships, at the workplace, and with our neighbors as we go about all of life. It means looking for opportunities to serve others and meet the needs of those around us every day, doing good in the name of Jesus Christ. We ought to become strategic about faithful presence and proclamation in every aspect of life. But, if you can't say that you are already faithful in that wholistic way, and if you know you ought do better at keeping Christ's commandment to preach the gospel out of joy in Him and love to Him, then may I commend Morningview's G.R.A.C.E. ministry to you? Some have thoughtful objections to “knocking on doors” to proclaim the gospel. Let me address just a few of them.

It is One-Dimensional.
Some have suggested that proclaiming the gospel on someone's doorstep may deliver the Word of Christ, but it lacks demonstrations of love and kindness, and so it is one-dimensional. But, the Bible says to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15), which means it must be possible to demonstrate love in the way we speak to others. If we visit homes and proclaim the gospel, not just to do our monthly duty of evangelism, but from sincere love for God and His glory, and out of an earnest love and care for the souls of sinners, then others will be able to perceive it. If we can't express love for others in how we speak to them, in the way we show concern for them personally, in the sincerity, kindness, and urgency of our tone of voice, then the problem may be with our sanctification, not with any given method of evangelism. How do we develop an earnestness for souls? We do that by knowing and loving Jesus more. There was none more earnest for the salvation of sinners than our Savior. If we love Him, we'll become like Him.

It is Too Much Like a Sales Visit.
Too many salesmen convince people they have a need they don't really have, and then they try to sell a product that doesn't really benefit the buyer. But, preaching the law and the gospel is about showing sinners that they have an urgent need that they don't know they have and can't know they have. Satan has “blinded the minds of unbelievers” (2 Cor 4:4), which means unregenerate sinners will always think you're trying to sell them something. They don't see that their sin is outright rebellion against their Creator, and consequently, they don't see that they must be reconciled to a holy God through the blood of Christ. They will never see it apart from the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. This means we shouldn't get too caught up in how lost people perceive our work of evangelism. They will never approve of it, until God changes their hearts. Historically speaking, the road to serious theological error has often come through compromises designed to get sinners to approve of evangelism and missions. Christ was the perfect evangelist, full of love and mercy. They killed Him for it. Let us follow Him.

It is Not Enough Time to Present the Whole Gospel.
The total gospel is revealed in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. We are all still learning the many nuances and inter-connections of all the facets of the gospel of Jesus Christ and how it changes our thinking and daily living. So, it is true that an afternoon visit on someone's doorstep can never communicate everything the gospel communicates. But, it is possible to communicate the basic apostolic teaching about salvation in Jesus Christ in a very brief period of time. That basic message is found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, “Now I would remind you, brothers of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you - unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” That basic message is what the Holy Spirit uses to open up sinful minds and hearts. Let us be faithful to sow the seed He has provided.

Thoughts?

2 comments:

  1. Great post brother. I have had the pleasure of going out with our G.R.A.C.E team and found the experience to change my mind of how I think of "door to door evangelism."

    I do like the fact that it is not arbitrary. We visit people we expect to be new to the neighborhood and show them hospitality/Christ's love and share the gospel as well as invite them to our Church. It is serving our community with interest while and by sharing the good news of our Savior's death and resurrection.

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  2. TJ, I have had similar experiences. There is a great opportunity in G.R.A.C.E. to interact with people in a very personal and significant way. I can remember one of our visits when we met a man whose marriage was about to fall apart. That very day, his wife had declared her intention to leave him. He was devastated and depressed. We sat on his front steps for about thirty minutes talking about his sin and his marriage. Then his wife drove up. We invited her to join us and spent the next couple of hours talking to both of them about the gospel of Christ, reconciliation to God and to one another in marriage. They attended our church a couple of times, but because he was out of work and looking for a job, they had to move to FL. A few months later, I got a phone call from the wife. She said that she and her husband were still married and attending Christian counseling. She thanked me for visiting them that night and calling them to Christ.

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