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EDITORIAL: Does door knocking still work?

In case you haven’t noticed, door knocking isn’t dead.
This month, we report on how church members from across the nation delivered the Gospel to West Virginia’s third-largest city. Fourteen baptisms resulted.
In The Christian Chronicle you’ll also read about the 2010 Campaign for Christ in Houston. At least 24 new souls were added to the Kingdom through that effort.
Recently, we reported on a “Back to the Bible” door-knocking campaign in Oklahoma City that yielded at least 35 baptisms.
If door knocking — an old-time method of spreading that old-time religion — is as effective as these numbers indicate, why aren’t more of us doing it?
For one thing, the phrase “door knocking” itself carries a stigma. Many of us feel that other religious groups who practice this form of evangelism have given it a bad reputation  — not to mention the door-to-door solicitors who attempt to sweet-talk us into magazine subscriptions or vinyl siding.
Some Christians feel that door-knocking campaigns too closely resemble the high-pressure tactics of salespeople. One reader on our news blog said the campaigns he’s witnessed are “numbers-oriented,” rushing people into baptism without fully explaining the Gospel. Others question the long-term effectiveness of such campaigns.
In the coming months — and years — we plan to follow up with congregations that have organized door-knocking campaigns and investigate the long-term results.
However, we acknowledge the difficulty of evaluating the results of any soul-winning effort.
Suppose a door-to-door campaign yields 1,000 baptisms. If, one year later, only one of those new souls remains in the faith, was the effort a failure? Certainly that one faithful Christian would disagree.
In our coverage of recent door-knocking campaigns, we have encountered Christians who owe their faith to previous campaigns. Some were introduced to the Gospel by someone who knocked on their door. Others are the children or grandchildren of people reached through door knocking.
Another positive we’ve noticed is the effect these campaigns have on the Christians who participate in them. Ministers have seen entire congregations reinvigorated as they have blanketed their communities with invitations to church and Bible study. Petty differences among brethren melt away when they are united in a common goal. The church benefits.
One campaigner in Oklahoma City said that door knocking reconnected him with acquaintances he hadn’t spoken to in years. He often had to resist the urge to linger in their doorways and talk about old times and mutual friends.
We rely more and more on communications technology, but we’re actually talking less and less to each other. We’re not conversing face-to-face — and heart-to-heart. Perhaps the simple act of knocking on a door can help us reconnect.
Jesus commands us to love our neighbor, but a lot of us still have to go meet our neighbor.

  • Feedback
    part 2
    I am familiar with all the congregations in WV, having received funds from them in the 90s for Pacific Islands Bible School. I am thrilled with the BIG campaign approach, but I want to demonstrate that the little congregation can do a great work too. We are 60 in number and have knocked near 20,000 doors this summer in connection with 3 tent meetings, seeing a dozen people obey the gospel. Please feel free to contact me 276-806-2150
    Johnny Robertson
    church of Christ
    Martinsville, Virginia
    October, 2 2010

    Read your article with interest. You mentioned interest on your part in stats from congregations involved in door knocking and such.
    In Virginia and North Carolina I have been putting up a tent every year since 1997. We have seen Denominational preachers baptized, and established 4 new congregations related to door knocking and tent preaching. My main reason for writing to you is to try and demonstrate that it is easy for a small congregation to get things going too.
    Johnny Robertson
    Martinsville chruch of Christ
    Martinsville, Virginia
    October, 2 2010

Filed under: Editorial Staff Reports

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