Monday, March 27, 2017

A Defense of House to House Personal Evangelism


A Philosophy of Personal Evangelism 8

Last week we laid out for you a brief case for the nearly unlimited potential for personal confrontational evangelism. I would be remiss if I did not admit that the majority of American Christianity disagrees with me. This is seen in the fact that so few churches have an active, organized, vibrant personal soul winning program, but it is also seen in the sometimes sincere and sometimes snide criticisms leveled at soul winning. I plan a much longer blog series dealing with many of these objections but I want to briefly address them today.



"You will never reach everybody."

I know. I agree with you. But that is not our aim. Our aim is to fulfill the Great Commission which tells us to preach the Gospel to every creature. (Mark 16.15) And personal evangelism is the method that offers the greatest opportunity to personally offer Christ to the greatest number of people.



"That might have worked fifty years ago but nowadays people don't want anyone badgering them. Our culture isn't like that anymore."

I've got news for you. There's never been a culture where people liked people badgering them. People are people, and they largely share similarities across cultures and generations. The church in Jerusalem didn't start practicing house to house evangelism because the Jews welcomed it so eagerly, and we shouldn't stop it when people don't. 

…and I might also add I routinely have precinct workers, alarm salesmen, Jehovah's Witnesses, plumbers, and school kids selling all manner of things ringing my doorbell in 2017. It's funny; apparently the only group that thinks it is inappropriate to ring a doorbell anymore is evangelicals.


Some days I just want to shout at American Christianity, "Stop being culture driven; be Scripture driven!"


"Well, confrontational evangelism always results in false professions, and you ought to be concerned about that."

Actually… you're right. Yes, I can hear your gasp all the way over here in Chicago. Confrontational personal evangelism results in false professions – and so does every single other method of evangelism. But the solution to false professions isn't to stop witnessing. The solution is stop being pushy, to teach soul winners to look for people with whom the Holy Spirit is dealing, and above all to emphasize a detailed, thorough presentation of the Gospel.

False professions don't make soul winning a bad thing; they make badly done soul winning a bad thing.


"Confrontational. Do you understand what that word means, Tom? You're going to run people off with such an approach."

Um, they are already on their way to hell now. Where are you going to run them off to? Hell number two? He that believeth not is condemned already. (John 3.18) I'm being a little snarky, and I realize that but I'm still right. If we allow ourselves to become concerned about not offending people we will close our mouths for Christ and never open them again. I am not advocating that we purposely seek to offend, but I am advocating that we ought to purposely seek to confront. And that is entirely scriptural.


"You soul winners are plucking green fruit. Those folks aren't ready to get saved, and your premature efforts are causing much harm."

How do you know that? Is there some waiting period in the Bible I've missed somewhere? To the contrary, behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (II Corinthians 6.2) I realize that the Holy Spirit must convict the sinner in order to prepare him to be regenerated, but there is no reason the Holy Spirit cannot convict him today. Scripturally, there is a sense of urgency both explicitly stated and implicitly referenced in relation to witnessing all through the Bible. Jesus led Nicodemus, the woman at the well, and the thief on the cross to Himself in the first conversation. 


"Witnessing is not a set time scheduled on Saturday morning. It is a way of life."

I could not possibly agree with you more. If you preach that in my church I'll sit on the front row and holler "Amen" as loud as I can. …but thirty years of experience in soul winning and close observation of churches has proven one thing to me: the only Christians who actively incorporate witnessing into their daily life are those who first incorporated it by schedule.

The truth is our flesh fights witnessing more than any other spiritual activity besides prayer, I suppose. Building an evangelistic culture is the single most difficult thing to do in any church. If we do not purposely and regularly schedule a time for soul winning we will rarely witness. If we leave it there we are remiss, but if we do not begin there we seldom if ever progress to an active life of witnessing.


…so take the Gospel to someone this week. Better yet, do it today. Step out in compassionate boldness and speak a word for Christ. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. (Luke 10.2)

Go into it. I don't mind if you put up a sign with the Gospel on the edge of the field. I don't mind if you play the Gospel on a PA system aimed toward the field. But get up from the table and walk out into that field. That's where the harvest is.
















6 comments:

  1. I began my walk with Christ as I listened to a Baptist pastor witness to me the night of March 16,1973. He was not hesitant to confront me with my need then and there to receive Christ. We were not together because I was seeking the Lord, yet that mattered not to God.
    Had that pastor been more concerned about not being confrontational with a 17 year old teen age Catholic boy who, up to that point had never consciously heard a clear presentation of the Gospel; had he been more concerned about running me off when he made it clear that my sin was sending me to hell and that all the sacraments were not going to save me from that destiny; were he more concerned about "will I pluck green fruit" or "what if he makes a false profession since he has probably never been so exposed to the Gospel"; had he confined his heart for souls only to Saturday mornings (March 16, 1973 was a Friday evening) I may have never gotten saved.
    He authoritatively presented (preached) the Gospel to me in his living room, realized the Spirit of God was dealing with me, and without hesitation or apology asked if I wouldn't accept Jesus Christ as my Saviour now: i.e. that night, that moment. To God's glory I did receive Christ. Thank you Lord and thank you for being faithful Pastor Allan.
    For 36 years I belonged to Fundamental Independent Baptist Churches. In the culture of soulwinning the Lord graciously used me to lead dozens to Himself. Did my confrontation make anyone besides myself uncomfortable? Yes. Was it easy or convenient to "go soulwinning" during regularly scheduled soulwinning times? No. Were there false profession? To be sure. Was green fruit plucked? Yes. Are there men and women living for God today because of those efforts? To His glory, Yes! And so are their children which they didn't have before the Lord used me to confront them with their condition and need for the Saviour.
    Then in 2010 events in my life unfolded and I started attending churches of a more evangelical mindset. Therein I've maintained many of my fundamental convictions. However, I did lose something in an environment which in my opinion is far too culturally sensitive. That "something" was my burden for souls. (I've only seen 3 people come to the Lord as a result of my witnessing since 2010).
    Yes, woe on me for losing that burden for whatever reason. But may I say that Pastor Brennan is spot on when he declares, "but thirty years of experience in soul winning and close observation of churches has proven one thing to me: the only Christians who actively incorporate witnessing into their daily life are those who first incorporated it by schedule.
    The truth is our flesh fights witnessing more than any other spiritual activity besides prayer, I suppose. Building an evangelistic culture is the single most difficult thing to do in any church. If we do not purposely and regularly schedule a time for soul winning we will rarely witness. If we leave it there we are remiss, but if we do not begin there we seldom if ever progress to an active life of witnessing."
    I recently left an evangelical non-soulwinning culturally engaged church. The main reason; I am very concerned about my lack of zeal for souls. Pastor Brennan knows some things about people and their soulwinning efforts after 30 years of experience. I know some things about self after 44 years of being saved. If I am to produce much fruit that remains (John 15:1-16) I only do so in a church culture where souls and soulwinning saturate that culture.
    I am grateful to the Lord's longsuffering toward me to lead me back into that church culture.
    Blessings.

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  2. Thank you Bro. Tom for such a great defense for door to door witnessing. I must admit that I too have fallen prey to the devils lies concerning this important ministry. Thank you for this wake up call.

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  3. Question, though. Nearly all new apartment complexes are gated, and unless you live there or know someone there, you can't just walk in and start knocking on peoples doors.

    Same with gated communities. And many homeowners' associations have made it illegal to even go as far as placing flyers on people's doors.

    How do you overcome those obstacles?

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    1. I understand, and we deal with some of the same things here. First, I would mention that personal evangelism is just that - personal. People get saved, not doors. Go to the sidewalk or corner by those gated apartment towers and talk to people as they walk by. Second, it is possible (though difficult) to track efforts at reaching people behind fences. A pastor friend of my acquaintance makes a 3x5 card with all the bell numbers of a particular address written on it. He stands there, patiently rings one bell at a time, and records the response on his 3x5 card. This way he does not repeatedly bother the same people, but he does thoroughly cover his neighborhood.

      If an entire community is gated, go to the next community. If a homeowner's association makes it illegal to leave a flyer, check with a good Christian lawyer to see what you can do. If your hands are tied, go on to the next neighborhood, corner, sidewalk, or park. In other words, if covering every house in your city simply cannot be done, do what you can. But don't allow such facts to stop you from going or from developing an active personal soul winning program in your church.

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