Across the Nation: Discipleship emphasis, disc golf evangelism, 50 years preaching and more quick takes
Across the Nation is our monthly rundown of news briefs,…
Walk up to a house in your neighborhood, knock on the door, and ask whoever answers to study the Bible with you or to visit your church.
It sounds simple enough, but door knocking evangelism can be excruciating.
“I am always intimidated at the beginning,” said minister Pedro Gelabert of the Long Island Church of Christ in New York. “But once we get going, it gets easier.”
Gelabert joined about 150 people from his congregation — and about 550 Churches of Christ in 42 U.S. states and 25 countries — for the inaugural Brotherhood-Wide Door Knocking Day on Oct. 5.
“We had about 90 percent of our congregation participate,” Gelabert said. “We went to our respective neighbors’ doors, and it was great.”
Oddly enough, the decidedly lowtech venture had its origins on the internet, said Matt Wallin, a minister in Rome, Ga., and director of promotions for House to House/Heart to Heart, a direct-mail ministry sponsored by the Jacksonville Church of Christ in Alabama.
“The main reason I wanted to do this was to do something big for the kingdom, to get churches meeting their neighbors.”
“I have been working for House to House for 14 years,” Wallin said. “I have wanted to do something in a more cooperative way with the other brotherhood works since I started working here, but it’s tough to find the right thing.
“Some ideas would scare people away. Some organizations want to stay in their own lane. It had to be the right thing, simple enough for everyone to believe in and get behind.”
One Saturday night, while browsing through his Facebook feed, Wallin saw posts from two of his preacher friends. The preachers, who didn’t know each other, both had taken their congregations door knocking that day. Each shared a similar message: “Church, no one is doing this, and this works.”
“I thought, ‘This is it — something we can all get behind!’” Wallin said.
Wallin happened to be in Hawaii on Oct. 5, in the midst of a monthlong ministry stint with the Maui Church of Christ. He and his fellow church members spent the day saying “Aloha” to their neighbors and inviting them to study the Bible.
“The main reason I wanted to do this was to do something big for the kingdom, to get churches meeting their neighbors,” Wallin said. “But unifying as many of our works and congregations as possible was a secondary goal. And that went beautifully. People were so excited to help.”
Organizers partnered with numerous works associated with Churches of Christ — including Christian universities, preaching schools, camps and television and radio programs — to get the word out ahead of Door Knocking Day.
David Shannon, president of Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn., appeared in a promotional video for the event.
“Some of the best friends that my wife and I have are friends that we have met through door knocking,” said Shannon, a former minister for the Mt. Juliet Church of Christ in Tennessee. “One particular young lady — the only reason she answered the door was that she thought we were the pizza delivery people. Obviously we weren’t, but here we are 10 years later, and we love her like a daughter. …
“People cannot visit a church that they do not know exists.”
On Door Knocking Day, about 40 members of the Robertsdale Church of Christ near Gulf Shores, Ala., participated. Minister Andrew Itson said they went to about 350 homes, offering something special.
“We called what we did a prayer walk,” Itson said. “I would say, ‘My name is Andrew from the Robertsdale Church of Christ, and is there anything that we can pray for you about?’ That method is very successful.”
In many cases, members would stay at a home for about 15 minutes praying with their neighbors, Itson said. In Rockville, Md., Maurice Williams and his wife included their children in the campaign.
“Door knocking is still relevant because Matthew 28:18-20 tells Christians to go out and tell the good news,” Williams said. “You never know the impact the Gospel is going to have on a person. We may not see the fruits of door knocking immediately, but (God’s) Word never comes back void.”
While not everyone Williams’ group encountered was friendly, he said it was worth having a few doors slammed in their faces to reach those who were open to hearing about Jesus.
“There are a few who do want to know about the Bible,” he said.
Wallin hoped that Door Knocking Day would “create a buzz” among Churches of Christ.
“No matter what else happens, it has already been a success because Christians went into the world to meet their neighbors and share the love of Jesus.”
While many reports were still coming in at press time, it seems the idea was a success, he said.
In Jackson, Miss., members of the Siwell Road Church of Christ talked to 93 people and set up 31 Bible studies, said associate minister Derek Broome.
In Miami, members of the Southern Heights Church of Christ learned through door knocking that “we must change our tactics sometimes,” said assistant minister Alphonso Gill. “We must talk to people instead of just inviting them to a meeting.”
Wallin said he loved hearing the positive stories that came out of the day.
“No matter what else happens,” he said, “it has already been a success because Christians went into the world to meet their neighbors and share the love of Jesus.”
He plans to promote another Door Knocking Day next year. He hopes that the event will give churches a renewed appreciation for the needs in their community — and the desire to continuously be a part of meeting those needs.
“One day was good, but evangelism isn’t one day or one event or one program,” Wallin said. “It’s a way of life, and the world starts next door.”
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