Month: November 2014

Why bother with door to door evangelism?

Front_Door-Before

Every Tuesday night a small, but faithful, group meets at my church and heads into the surrounding neighborhoods to knock on doors, and share the Gospel message with anyone who is willing to listen.  We are strategic as to where we go and have a systematic plan to share the Gospel with the entire city of Gladstone.  If someone is not home, or does not have time to talk, we leave a Gospel tract behind.

This small group, from a church of over 1,000 usually numbers around 5 people.

Over the years I have worked with several other churches and their door to door teams and have found a similar turnout.  Churches of hundreds will send out just a handful of people.  In fact, I went to work with one church recently and found myself as the only person.

This type of outreach has obviously fallen out of vogue, and there seems to be little evidence that the church has any plans of picking back up on aggressive intentional evangelism.

So… why do we bother?

Why go where you are not welcome, on behalf of people who don’t care if you go?  Why put yourself in position to be considered crazy by both the saved and the unsaved?  Why put so much effort into a ministry that sometimes appears to bear little fruit?

The answer may not be what you think?

Of course, I could easily say that we are called to so and end the answer.  There is no question that we are to evangelize, and anyone trying to make an argument otherwise does not put much stock into Scripture.  It would be right to simply copy and paste the Great Commission and call it a day, but that wouldn’t be a full answer.  In fact, that wouldn’t even be a good answer.

I have been told countless times that door to door evangelism is not the only way to evangelize.  That evangelism doesn’t just happen on Tuesday night, and I 100% agree with this statement.  Evangelism should be far greater than a single day of the week outreach.  Evangelism should be a day in day out lifestyle for the believer.  Everything we do should have the Gospel as a backdrop.

The idea that evangelism is bigger than a weekly door to door visit, though, is why I think door to door is vital in church ministry, and all Christians should be involved.  It is this weekly commitment that makes the rest of the lifestyle come into place.

Before we explore that idea let’s look at this concept in a different arena of life.  Health.

When most people decide that they want to live a healthy lifestyle they either join a gym or signup for some sort of class at the gym.  The few who don’t will mark on their calendars time that they plan to work out.  If they have a weekly Zumba class (for example) most will understand that this once a week class does not a healthy lifestyle make.  They must do more than work out once a week in order to be healthy.  This once a week class is vital though.  Because of this one class, the rest of the time works around that priority.  Food choices are made differently because of that once a week class.  Other exercise is done because of that class.  People may even park their cars further from the store door because of that class.  In short, that 1 hour class helps to keep the focus through the entire week.  That one hour out of 168 during the week has a drastic impact on who the person is.

Door to door evangelism works in much the same way.  Through the weekly commitment to be in intentional evangelism the person is changed throughout the entire week.  Evangelism becomes easier, and almost second nature.  It becomes what the person is all about.

That one hour commitment changes the prayer life, the devotional life, the worship life and the evangelistic life of the person who commits to doing it.  The entire person, and their priorities, begins to move more in line with God’s will and His commandment in the Great Commission.

There is nothing wrong with lifestyle evangelism.  In fact, that is exactly what we need to be doing.  In order to do this effectively, though, we must return to the days where aggressive, intentional evangelism is promoted widely in the church.  We must get people working in a strategic way together in order to get the Gospel out into the community.

Only then will the members of the church lifestyles change in a way that makes lifestyle evangelism possible.  If there is not an intentional plan of evangelism, it will not happen.  If we are not sharing the Gospel as a strategic group, then the odds of sharing it over the fence or with our friends decreases.

Why do we do door to door?  Because just like one goes to a gym to focus on their lifestyle goals, we to want to focus ours.  I want God’s Commission to be my heart, and in order to do so I must make sure that I am focused on that.  Door to door keeps the focus.

Of course, while doing so when run into people who may never have heard the Gospel otherwise.  We bring a message of life to those who are perishing.

When was the last time you shared the Gospel with someone?  Put it on your calendar today.  If your church does not have a door to door team, it is time to start one.  If you do not know how I would love to help you begin one.  If your church has one, it is time to join in.

J. W. Willard

A Poem by CT Studd

I recently came across a poem by famous missionary CT Studd that I thought was worth sharing

Only One Life
By C.T. Studd
 
Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, 
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
 
Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
 
Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
 
Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill,
living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
 
When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
 
Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
 
Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
 
Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last. 

Billy Graham, Death, and a Changing Culture

pbilly-graham

Today marks Billy Graham’s 96th birthday.  It is a day where we as a community of faith can celebrate the work that God has done through the hands of one man.  It is a day where we can look to a hero of faith and follow him as he followed Christ.  It is a day where we can hear, and celebrate testimonies of our brothers and sisters in Christ, who are a part of the same eternal kingdom because of the preaching of this man.  It is a joyful day.

At the same time it is a day to reflect on the brevity of human life.  On the fact that we all must face death.  On the fact that at 96 Billy Graham is reaching the end of his earthly life.  We look to a hero for many of us and see an old, frail man in failing health.  Someday in the not so distant future we will hear the news that Billy Graham has passed from this earth.  It will be a day of tears and a day of joy.  Bill Graham spoke of this day often;

“Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”

There is another important thought to consider today as we are reminded of the aging of Billy Graham.  It is a question of succession.  Where is the evangelist that will take his place?  Billy Graham comes from a long line of very popular mass evangelists.  Starting with men such as Charles Finney and Elder Jacob Knapp, to men such as D. L. Moody, Billy Sunday, Mordeaci Ham, and Billy Graham, the mass evangelist has held a place in our culture for a couple hundred years.  Men who were popular not just in the Christian community, but in the community at large.  Men who were listened to by both saved and unsaved individuals.

These great evangelists were able to reach out in a variety messages and speak the Gospel into homes where no Christian lived.  Because of this fact, many came to faith that may have heard the message in no other way.  They were by no means perfect, but the culture turned to them and God used them greatly.

Where is the next man who can do the same?

As of now, he doesn’t exist.  Evangelists still work throughout the land, and the office of the evangelist as a leader in the church is just as relevant as it was when the apostle Paul penned the words of Ephesians 4:11, but the face of the culture has changed.  The community has hardened itself to the words of God, and therefor they have also turned away from any teacher who brings a message from God.  A man such as Billy Graham would no longer be received in the same way.

Billy Graham was a man, placed by God, to be used during a specific season of life in America.  That season has passed.

No longer will mass evangelists be able to get the Gospel message into homes, and lives.  Yet the Great Commission remains.  The message Billy Graham gave his life to preaching, must still go forth.  The messengers now must look different.

What does this mean for the church?

To put it bluntly, the task falls to each Christian.  We are all called to evangelize and get the Gospel message into the world.  We are all called to lead others to Christ.  At one point a single man could come to Kansas City and preach to 40,000 different people 4 days in a row.  Today few would come.  In order to reach those 160,000 people we must go find them where they are.  We must knock on doors and engage them in the streets.  We must take the Gospel message to the highways and byways of the city.  The task is on us.

Of course, it has always resided on the shoulders of the local church, but God used men such as Billy Graham to accomplish His purpose.  Now is the time for Him to use you and me.  We must be faithful to get the message into the world.  We must obey the Great Commission.

Here is the cool part.

The same Holy Spirit that brought power to the messages of Billy Graham and fruit of salvation to his listeners resides in us.  The truth that he preached is the same truth that we preach.  The same power of God is available to us.

In 2004 Billy Graham preached for 4 days in Kansas City to 155,000 people.  During this crusade 16,265 decisions were made (salvation, rededication, response to vocational ministry etc.).  Imagine if we as a church took the Gospel message out to 155,000 people in our city.  Imagine the blessing from God.  Imagine the response.

This is what we as a church are called to do.  No longer can the task fall to one man.  The culture will no longer allow it.  The job is for us to do.  It is time to put our hands to the plow and get on with the task.

On Billy Graham’s 96th birthday we have a lot to consider.  Billy Graham perhaps gives us a gift better than we could give him.  The example of a well lived life in faithful obedience to the Great Commission.  It is time we followed that example.