Door-to-Door Evangelism Facts
Fact: Flavil Yeakly, Jr. reported in a 1980 to 1995 report that while
U.S. population grew 17% the church grew 1.7%. Oklahoma had the largest decline
of church members, Missouri had the largest decline of congregations and Tennessee
had the largest decline of adherents (Members, children, and visitors). (Evangelism
and Church Growth, Clayton Pepper, Vol. 2, No. 4; August, 1999; Clayton Pepper
Center for Church Growth)
Fact: Jehovahís Witness numbers in the U.S. have increased from 565,309
in 1980 (1981 Yearbook of Jehovahís Witnesses) to 988,469 in 2000 and
number over 6,000,000 worldwide (ibid., 2000).
Fact: The Mormon Church has grown from two million in 1963 (about the
number of members of the churches of Christ) to three million in 1971, four
million in 1978 and now about 11 million with over 5 million in the United
States. During this time the numbers in the churches of Christ have remained
essentially the same.
Fact: Recent Mormon Church statistics show that they knock 1000
doors before they typically set up ONE study. (Mormon newsletter for
missionaries shown to James Palmer of We Care Ministries by a Mormon Elder)
Fact: We Care Ministries under the direction of Whiteís Ferry
Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, LA has found that on average, during their
campaigns, someone is found home for every six doors knocked.
A study is set up for every three doors where someone is found home. When
studies are set up, one-half of these studies result in a baptism into
Christ. This means that on average a conversion is made, a soul is saved for
every 36 doors that are knocked on in We Care Campaigns.
The ratio of doors knocked to studies set up for We Care Ministries (one
out of 18) compared1 to that of Mormons (one out of 1000) is striking.
What we should see as embarrassing however, is the fact that in spite of their
relatively unfruitful door-to-door evangelism, the Mormon Church is one of the fastest
growing religious bodies in the U.S. today while churches of Christ have had
essentially zero growth in the U.S. for many years. Mormon numbers have
more than doubled in just over 20 years; Jehovahís Witness numbers have
increased 75% in the U.S. in the last 20 years. To what do the Mormons attribute
their growth? Door-to-door evangelism. To what do the Jehovahís
Witnesses attribute their growth? Door-to-door evangelism.
Fact: Door-to-door evangelism works in the Memphis/Bartlett area.
According to the web site for Central North Church which is located at 5955 Yale
Rd, in May of 1982, "John Latimer felt the Lord tugging on his heart and
telling him to start an independent, Bible-believing church for Christians
living in outlying suburbs north of Memphis, Tennessee." (http://centralnorthchurch.org/history.htm).
It goes on to say that he "was then pastor of Oaklawn Baptist Church near
Shelby Forest. He approached several members of Oaklawn and the successful
Central Church, which had recently relocated from East Memphis to a larger
facility on Winchester Road in southeast Shelby County, with the idea of
starting a nondenominational church closer to their homes in Bartlett, TN. They
felt that he was right on target. As a result, some 35 Christians began
meeting in one another's homes for worship. Just three weeks later they rented a
storefront in Raleigh Oaks Plaza Shopping Center at Austin Peay and Yale
Rd." "Just six months later attendance had grown to 130 people
after the church had hosted a successful revival, and members had knocked on
the doors of 7,000 residents." It goes on to say that by July of
1992 the church had grown to a membership of 1500.
There has been a lie going around in churches of Christ for the last 20+
years, undoubtedly promoted by Satan, saying that door-to-door evangelism doesnít
work. Brothers and sisters, these facts donít lie. They are undeniable. We should be
I have actually had it suggested to me, even stated flatly by leaders of some
congregations, that they donít want a lot of new babes in Christ. They donít
think the church can nurture an influx of new Christians properly. In other
words, effective evangelism would be a bad thing! When I hear this, I wonder if
they would have asked Peter not to get carried away in his first sermon. How
could only a handful of Christians handle an influx of 3000?
Jesus said, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and
teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you
always, to the very end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20). The disciples were commanded to "make disciples . . . baptizing them . .
. and teaching them to obey everything . . ." Surely, those who were taught
to obey everything the disciples were commanded to do were taught to teach
others. Each of these who were taught by the disciples in turn made disciples,
baptized them into Christ, and taught them to do likewise wherever and to
whomever they could. This command is therefore undoubtedly passed onto us as
individual Christians. A common misconception about evangelism seems to be
that only certain people are gifted to be evangelists. Most
Christians would agree that there are certain members of the church who have the
gift of giving, but I know of no one who would say that other Christians
are free from any need to obey God's commands in this matter (2 Corinthians 9:7;
1 Corinthians 16:2) just because others may be better equipped to do so.
Evangelism is much the same. Some may be more gifted in this matter than
others, but does that mean the rest of us should feel free to ignore God's
commands in this matter (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16)? One thing I
have discovered over the last several years is that regardless of what gifts you
think you may have, as long as you have the love of Christ in you, including a
love for your neighbors (Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:25-37; Romans 13:9;
Galatians 5:14; James 2:8) and a desire to share the Gospel of Christ, you can
effectively do so. I speak from experience when I say that being shy by nature
and/or being a poor speaker will not keep you from being effective in sharing
the Gospel as long as you have love and a desire reach the lost. However,
you may need some training on what works best. For many years I desired to
be an effective personal evangelist, but saw no fruit from my efforts.
Over time I learned what really works and God has blessed me with the joy of
seeing many people turn to Christ after sharing the Gospel with them during the
last two years.
Going from door to door proclaiming the gospel follows the example set
by Paul in Acts 20:20 where he says that he did not hesitate "to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to
house." A similar statement is made that the rest of the apostles
also did this in Acts 5:41-42. Many believe that Paul is saying that he
was merely preaching in house churches. There is no question that this is
where Christians were meeting together (see Acts 2:46) and the same Greek phrase
is even used to describe their gathering. Acts 20:20 can be found
frequently quoted as a proof text, without comment, for both small group
ministry in homes and for door-to-door evangelism. The context should be
helpful here. In Acts 20:21, Paul goes on to say that in doing this (house
to house teaching) he "declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus."
This clearly indicates that he was carrying out a ministry to
nonbelievers. However, I would not by any means say that this was to the
exclusion of teaching in house churches, either.
Many times I have read statistics and heard them quoted as saying that
statistics show that in the churches of Christ most people become members after
coming into contact with other members and becoming friends with them and
therefore "friendship evangelism" is the most effective way of
reaching the lost. I am a great proponent of statistics . . . properly used, as
my above research shows. I do not argue with the validity of the statistic at
all. What I do state, without reservation, is that THE CONCLUSION IS NOT
SUPPORTED BY FACTS!
Causality. I don't think anything has caused as much mischief in research
and applied statistics as unclear thinking about causality. Assessing causality
is the raison d'Ítre of most statistical analysis, yet its subtleties
escape many statistical consumers. --Pitfalls of Data Analysis, Clay Helberg,
To conclude that "friendship evangelism" is the most
effective method of evangelism because most current members became members
that way is like concluding that communism is the best form of government for
Christians in China because most current members of the church became Christians
under a communist regime. The actual effectiveness of friendship
evangelism alone compared to the use of words to explicitly proclaim the death,
burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ to our neighbors can readily be seen
from the numerous statistics cited above. On the other hand, I am a great proponent of
friendship evangelism. I believe it should always be practiced and that it
is Scriptural (see 1 Peter 2:12), but not to
the exclusion of methods that are statistically proven to be more
effective. Friendship evangelism is something that can be practiced if no
other method is prudent. It can also be used in conjunction with other
methods. In fact, door-to-door evangelism for one, is essentially useless
without it, but this in no way
makes friendship evangelism the most effective method, just the most universally applicable.
Small group ministry is the latest evangelism trend. At Sycamore View
(Memphis, TN) we
have small groups of many kinds in place. Small group ministry can be a powerful
tool. Small groups are wonderful. I am a member of multiple small groups at some
level at Sycamore View and I love each one. Some people seem to believe that if
you have a small group it is going to automatically be evangelistic.
Unfortunately, this has not been proven to be true. Ideally, a small group would
be evangelistic. However, small groups essentially run into the same basic
problem being evangelistic as individual Christians do. They donít
know how to share the gospel, unless they become equipped to do so! However,
small groups are perfect environments for nurturing new Christians. We are
already perfectly equipped to handle the fruits of door-to-door evangelism. Now
we just need to equip interested members to go out because the fields truly
"are ripe for harvest" (John 4:35).
1The response to this
question, received from the Book of Mormon Answerman (http://www.new-jerusalem.com/) on
6/27/01 was "I really can't tell you. I don't think anyone can, but one
number that I heard a long time ago was that for every thousand doors knocked on
in a cold call, resulted in one baptism." However, whether it's one
out of one thousand for a study or one out of one thousand for a baptism, the
difference is still dramatic (36 compared to 1000).