Growing up I remember being terrified when someone mentioned the word “evangelism.” I recall seeing men and women go up to the church building on Tuesday nights to go knock on doors in hopes of leading someone to Christ. Their efforts were valiant and not totally without results. I did here stories of how a few lives were changed by someone knocking on their door to tell them about Jesus. My goal in writing this post is not to completely bash this approach because God uses broken institutions to reach broken people everyday. However, I strongly discourage door-to-door evangelism or what I like to rephrase cold-calling evangelism.
1. It gives Jesus and His Church a bad name.
The church is the visible evidence of Jesus. How people perceive the church is how people perceive Christ. We as Christians are already fighting an uphill battle. Many people already think Christians are weird (thanks to cheesy Christian stuff). Door-to-door evangelism doesn’t help. When they see someone coming around knocking on doors, they usually think, “Ugh, I don’t want this weirdo coming in.” We’ve all done it, when we see someone come knocking we run, turn the lights off and hide thinking, “Hopefully they won’t know I’m home.” Wouldn’t you assume if that’s what you are thinking when someone comes to your door, that’s what the other people are doing when you knock on theirs?
2.It discourages people from sharing their faith.
Wait, doesn’t this sound contradictory? Getting people to go door-to-door to share their faith actually discourages evangelism? Yes, I stated that correctly. Cold-calling evangelism discourages people to share their faith. How so? Somewhere along the way, evangelism got boiled down to a one night a week event where several members of the church meet at the building and break out to different neighborhoods to knock on doors. People are terrified of going door-to-door – especially these days. Therefore, Christians start thinking that evangelism is scary, because going door-to-door is scary. When people are scared of something, most of the time they stay away from it.
3. It segments evangelism from the gospel-centered life.
Evangelism was never meant to be a program or just something you do. Why does it make sense to take the believer completely out of his/her context and drop him/her somewhere else and say, “Have at it!” Evangelism stems from what you are – the church. As the church, everything we do is in part evangelism. It simply flows from your very being. Yes, I would agree that you should verbally proclaim the gospel every chance you get, but verbalization is not the only thing that is evangelism. A gospel-centered life sees evangelism happening in every facet when the Christian interacts with non-believers – not just one night a week. I would recommend an excellent blog post on this topic found here.
I think its much more biblical (and effective) approach is to live a life on mission with God. The term I prefer over evangelism is “rhythm.” Everyone establishes a rhythm to their life – Christian and non-Christian alike. Humans are creatures of habit. People go to work at the same time, eat lunch at the same time, take the same route to work, and go to the same coffee shop or restaurant every week. The thing to figure out is how you can take your rhythm and use it for the glory of God. For instance, how can you share Christ in your workplace? Sometimes it means that you establish new rhythms so you can live more on mission, such as going to the grocery store at the same time every week or getting coffee at the same place more often. I challenge you to think, “How can I be living out the mission of God with what I’m already doing?”
For those who adhere strongly to weekly evangelism events, I ask, “How are you living out that mission of God on the six other days of the week?”