Home > Evangelism, Mallinak > Beyond Door-to-Door

Beyond Door-to-Door

September 14, 2008

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.
(Acts 20:20-21)

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.

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Categories: Evangelism, Mallinak
  1. September 14, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Dear Pastor Mallinak,

    You are right—we are to go door to door and that we are to do more. We see this all in Acts. Pastor Hammett at Lehigh
    Valley Baptist (http://lvbaptist.org) told me that they have been getting people to do evangelistic Bible studies for years, and of those who finish such a study, about 50% make a salvation decision, and of that 50%, about 90% get baptized and about 90% are in church a year later. This is what we would expect from true conversion. Their evangelistic Bible study is available at their website. The one used at Bethel Baptist is at http://thross7.googlepages.com/home for download. Someone who wishes to read evidence for both evangelistic Bible studies and for house to house evangelism in Acts can read

    http://thross7.googlepages.com/BiblicalMandateforHousetoHouse.pdf

    if he wishes to.

    When we have people making decisions at doors who never show up, we have a problem–the people aren’t getting saved. Baptist fundamentalism would be much better off if it recognized this. I was at a church for a while before I went to Bible college where they stopped going house to house (in disobedience to Acts) because they said it “didn’t work.” But this is because of a wrong view of preaching the gospel and of conversion.

  2. Don Heinz
    September 14, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Dave and Thomas:

    I agree wholeheartedly. The popular door-to-door evangelism techniques of the last 25 years have done more harm than good. We definitely need to find ways to get more Bible into those who will listen, particularly on the side of repentance.

    Another aspect, though, is the fulfillment of our responsibility. We do door-to-door partly because it is the best way to know that we have “fully preached the gospel” geographically. Obviously we cannot preach to every creature door to door, because only a small percentage actually answer the door. However, we can say that we got the gospel to certain areas, and can move on to other areas, assuring that we are going and sowing evenly.

  3. Mike Marshall
    September 15, 2008 at 6:09 am

    “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.”

    And that is where our evangelism today falls short – as a whole “we” Baptists (and I can preach to myself here) – do not follow up long enough to see fruit. It is easy to say “well, I talked to them once….. ”

    Even in my secular work, follow up is everything. We see more results at the Nursing Home simply because we go every Sunday and every Thursday morning and those people get the seed sowed and watered, and watered, and watered….

    Maybe the problem with evangelism today is not that it does not work, it’s that we don’t work it……

  4. Dave Mallinak
    September 16, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Good thoughts, gentlemen.

    And I would add that it would be good if we left better tracts at the doors that are not home. Not that “God’s Simple Plan is bad, but it is inadequate for most people. Especially in my area, where the LDS WILL and DO agree with most of what the tract says.

  5. September 16, 2008 at 5:05 pm

    Pastor Mallinak,
    How true this blog is. Just thought I would mention it, but 23 years ago this Saturday, you and Mr. R knocked on my door and invited me to ride the bus. Boy we are getting old.

  6. September 16, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    Bethel Baptist Church sells good tracts. Contact them at (510) 223-9550.

  7. reglerjoe
    September 26, 2008 at 6:07 am

    JackHammers,

    This has been a fascinating subject. The evangelistic method I’m used to is quick and short and hence shallow…it’s main thrust is to solicit a repeated prayer. I like the Bible study idea, especially since it is the biblical example (I’m not sure why I never saw that before!)

    Here’s what I am curious about: how does this method look in real life? Do you go to the door with the main purpose of asking to have a home Bible study? How do you get people to invite you back to their homes for Bible studies? What do you say from the moment the door opens to when you are scheduling a time to come back with a study? How do you conduct these Bible studies? Are they 1 hour long per session? 20 minutes? Once a week? Twice a week?

  8. September 26, 2008 at 9:09 am

    Joe,

    We have a five week evangelistic study that is done one on one. Thomas Ross has a correspondence study if you go to his site above. He has a link to click on. That is as good as anything I’ve seen as far as a person doing it on his own.

    I go to the door to preach the gospel and it is easy to see fairly quickly that they will need the study. We like to leave a Bible study offer on the doors that are not home. Business Reply Mail. We get people sending them back. Very few, but we get some. We ask if they would like to have a Bible study at the point in the conversation where you see you are going to need more time and that they look like they would be interested in a study. The Bible study is the five week evangelistic study. Meet however long they seem like they want to meet and you can meet. Once a week for an hour. I have homework with my study that is a supplement. I come back and go over that too.

  9. reglerjoe
    September 26, 2008 at 9:57 am

    Very good. So when you have the bible study one-on-one, do you just look at verses in the Bible and share some sort of learned outline, or do you go over some sort of printout together (like I see at Thomas’ links) where they fill in blanks? What kind of “homework” do you assign them? Do you often have folks start the 5 lesson series but not finish?

    Thomas mentioned some encouraging stats from Lehigh Valley. Do you see similar results? Do other churches that utilize such in-home studies see similar results?

  10. September 26, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    When someone gets all the way through a study, they usually understand the gospel and actually receive Christ, and I say “actually” to differentiate it from a profession. They have a pen and fill in the blanks as we look up the passages of Scripture. It is a kind of self-study too. Thomas’ correspondence study is different, much longer because no one is there to explain anything.

    People do start and not finish, more than half. I see this as something similar to what Jesus experienced.

  11. September 26, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Would you be willing to share the 5 week salvation study that you use?

  12. Dave Mallinak
    September 27, 2008 at 11:42 am

    Joe,

    Sorry that I haven’t been here to answer your question. I would add to what Kent says here, that any time we have someone coming to church, not converted, we bring in this study. We also use this study whenever someone that we are working with shows an interest in the things of God. These two areas have brought us our greatest successes.

    I have used the salvation Bible study with those who make professions of faith and/or pray to receive Christ initially as well. In those cases, we set up the study for Wednesday night an hour before the service. This helps as well because it gets them in the practice of being in church for the midweek service.

    In other cases, we have gone to their home for one hour, one night per week. Normally, it takes five weeks to get through the study, although there have been times when we have taken longer (2-3 weeks) on a particular lesson. Most of the time, we have a week or two where schedules won’t allow for the study, so it usually takes us about 6-8 weeks to get through.

    If people are going to quit, they usually do after either the 2nd or the 3rd study. I once had a young man go through the first two studies with me. When I came over for the third, he told me that he had decided that he did not want to go any further. He said, “if I go any further, I will have to believe and get saved, and I don’t want to do that right now. I would have to give up too much.”

    To me, that is yet another underscore to the reason for this type of evangelistic method.

    Hope that is helpful. You’ve asked some great questions.

    By the way, Jack, I took Kent’s study and did some edit work on it. If you send me your address, I’ll send you a copy of the study, sans the typos!

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