And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. (Acts 5:42)
And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our idea of door-to-door evangelism comes from these verses, and verses like them. Our church tries to follow this model as faithfully as we can. We have a Thursday night program which we call “Evangelism Express.” Every Thursday, we meet for thirty minutes for a lesson on evangelism, and then we load up the bus and head out to a neighborhood in town. (When we first started this, we almost called it the “Soul Train,” but we thought better of it). This has been a tremendous program for our church, a wonderful time of fellowship, and a blessing to this pastor. But that being said, we have no results to boast of. Over the summer, we knocked on nearly 3,000 doors, with just one person calling on the name of the Lord for salvation.
That being said, we are not ashamed of our efforts. God has given us particularly stony ground to plow, and we will not feel sheepish about rejoicing when we coax a single plant to life.
Making initial contact through door-to-door evangelism is a part of what, as we understand the passages above, Paul and the early New Testament Christians were doing. But we should not consider that to be the limit of what they did. In fact, as we read these two verses, we find that their evangelism consisted of much more than this. It certainly demonstrates a shallow understanding of these verses to say that they just “went soul winning.”
First, we find that they were both “teaching” and “preaching” Jesus Christ. This implies more than a mere cursory explanation of the gospel at the door. They went beyond the “A, B, C’s of Salvation,” and thoroughly taught them God’s plan for the salvation of men. They most certainly preached the gospel at the door. But then the preaching at the door moved into teaching in the house.
Paul says that he taught them, both publicly and privately, “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. He kept back nothing that was profitable to them. In other words, this was more than a one time gospel presentation at the door. Paul brought a course of study into the home, and there he taught them. His course of study was thorough, was instructive, and was designed to present the whole council of God.
Because we have been engaged in door-to-door evangelism so much, we have learned to boil the gospel down to “the essentials” (as some would say). This is not necessarily wrong, except that as a result, many believe the gospel to be the summary, and have missed out on the gospel in its fullness. In our witness, we should never be satisfied with giving the boiled-down, strained-out version that can fit on the three folds of a gospel tract. We should desire to teach the the gospel in its full-orbed glory to all we meet. But this will require us to go beyond door-to-door.
God has wonderfully blessed our church with souls saved and fruit that remains through the evangelistic efforts of our church. We have seen God turn the world upside down for a couple of faithful families. But in each case, what we have seen is that the work at the door was only the start. Each time, the real work of evangelism began after that initial contact, through regular contact and scheduled teaching times. After between five and eight weeks of teaching that involved between six hundred and one thousand verses of Scripture, we saw God do His work and draw these families to salvation.
In each case, when we have taken the time to teach and preach Jesus Christ over a length of time, and have kept back nothing that was profitable, but have shown and taught them repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, have we seen that lasting fruit. But in each case when we have taken the time to thoroughly teach and preach Jesus Christ, we have found that the results were truly lasting.
“Easy come, easy go” describes the results in the average church. We almost could call it a spiritual law. When we see easy conversions at the door during the initial contact, we rarely ever see any lasting fruit. But when we take the time to thoroughly teach and preach Jesus Christ, we can expect something different. Paul’s work of evangelizing was no flash in the pan. When he went into a city to preach, we see that he had lasting results. Is this not what we want? Then we will need to do more than just talk at a door. We will need to dig in and do the real work of evangelism. That is not to say that door-to-door evangelism isn’t “real evangelism.” Rather, it is to say that the door-to-door part is starting the mower. Once you have started the mower, you will still need to get in the yard and mow the grass.