For years, door knocking was about the only type of consistent outreach – outside of occasional street services – that you would find in most Pentecostal churches. “Outreach” and “door knocking” were pretty much synonymous terms: where you found the one, you would normally find the other.
Today, except for a handful of die-hard adherents, few churches walk the neighborhoods and ring the doorbells. We have seemingly surrendered the entire program over to the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Most pastors see little profit to this “cold turkey” approach of evangelism.
However, even though traditional door knocking and canvassing has not reaped a great amount of results in the past, several new approaches have given greater effectiveness to this type of ministry, bringing a reevaluation in the hearts of many. Not only are churches seeing greater results, but many pastors have come to realize that there is a large percent of people in their churches that will become involved – and even enjoy – the Saturday Door Knocking ministry. Perhaps this is because such a heavy emphasis has been placed here in the past. Or maybe it’s because that’s what Mom and Dad always did. But whatever the reason, the doorbells are ringing again and the churches doing so are singing it’s praises as new contacts are being made and home Bible studies are being set up..
What has brought about this change? Simply this: A realization that for any outreach to be effective, it must meet people’s needs.
To go up to someone’s door and invite them to church is fine – but let’s face it, seldom do they ever come. The entire sequence says, “I want you to do something for me – come to my church”. Unfortunately we live in a very “me” oriented generation. The world’s view of everything today seems to say “what’s in it for me? What will I get out of it?” Little do they realize what that one visit could mean to their eternity. If we are going to see results beyond that of sore knuckles, we had better change our approach.
The change in approach has been to offer a needed service, to give them something they want: A personal Bible survey course (Home Bible Study), the benefits of “belonging” to a Sunday School and having a pastor (Sunday School’s Enroll-to-Grow), a Bible education for their children (Bus Ministry), a ride to church on Sunday morning for those lacking transportation (Car Ministry), a social and educational program for their youth (Scouting /Youth Clubs), or an enjoyable activity for the entire family (a church sponsored drama, musical, or program). There are many others. This is a subtle but significant change from the traditional visitation goal of trying to present the full Gospel on every door step. The new method discovers a person or family with a need, than develops a strategy to reach them by meeting that need.
DEVELOPING THE MINISTRY
The following approach has been highly effective in discovering prospects for Home Bible Study, Bus Ministry, Sunday School, and Follow-up Visitation. Prospects are the name of the game when it comes to growth. Saturday Door Knocking will provide you with a wealth of leads like few other methods will.
First, place “Saturday Door Knocking” on your annual outreach commitment form (if you don’t have an annual outreach commitment service, preach a sermon on the need to reach the lost and ask all who are willing to participate in door knocking to sign a list). Explain that those who commit to involvement that they will only be going out one Saturday per month. This is important. If they go out every week, they will soon burn out and most will soon quit. For many, Saturday is the only day off they have to be with their family.
Once people have committed to involvement, draw up a six-month schedule of what Saturdays will be used for this ministry. Try to choose Saturday’s that are just prior to major church events and promotions (dramas, songfests, special programs, revivals, etc.) Post the schedule and give a copy to each person involved. This will help them plan on being there.
Announce the intended Saturday the Sunday and Bible study night before going. Put a notice in the church bulletin if you have one. Also the director of this ministry must call all team members the Thursday or Friday before going out and get a verbal commitment from each to be there Saturday morning. This is a MUST! Since they don’t go out every week, and it’s not always on the same Saturday of the month, people tend to forget.
The door knocking team should meet at the church Saturday morning at about 9:30 a.m. After a short time of prayer, they hit the streets and knock on doors until noon. They then return to the church for a group lunch (brown-bag or potluck style). After lunch, the director should give the group a quick “pep talk.” Have testimonies from those that have had success. This will inspire those who may have had a bad morning. The team may then goes out for another hour or two following lunch.
Plan to use a variety of methods of door knocking. What method you use should be determined by where the greatest needs are. Strengthen whatever ministry needs the most contacts. For example:
Get home Bible studies with the ‘Quest Survey’ – This 10-question survey has brought excellent results. A sample survey form and instructions can be obtained by calling 1-800-800-0247 and request the Quest Survey. Cost is just $3.00. If done properly, it is highly effective in getting studies.
Enroll Sunday school members with ‘Enroll-To-Grow’ – This method is available from the General Sunday School Department, UPCI. It is very effective in enrolling adults into your Sunday School Program. See Bro. Gary Randol for more information.
Get kids for your Bus, Van, or Car Ministry – Knocking on doors to find children for the Bus Ministry is easy and has proven to be an effective way of reaching into the home. When coupled with the Parentreach Program, Bus Ministry becomes a powerful soul winning tool.
Offer a ride Sunday morning to those lacking transportation – “Hi! Sorry to bother you, but we are launching a free transportation program in this neighborhood for those who wish to attend church on Sunday morning – but do not have the means to do so. Do you attend church on Sunday morning? No? Well, if we provided you with free transportation on Sunday morning, would you be interested in attending church?” This simple dialog can provide an extra rider for every car that comes to your church. Elderly, single car families (spouse has the car Sunday morning for work), teens, and others. Three to four hours knocking on doors in a lower income neighborhood will provide you with several that would come, if they only had someone who would pick them up.
Sign-up kids for your Boy’s and Girl’s Scouts or Kid’s Clubs – The use of this nationally known children’s outdoor club has been a blessing to many. The program is excellent and all spiritual training is provided by the local church that sponsors the pack or troop. It also provides an excellent inroad to reaching the parents of the children. If you don’t have a scouting ministry at your church, consider starting one! For more information contact the General Sunday School Department, UPCI.
Flyer & ticket distribution for special events – Anytime you have a special program or revival, the Saturday Door Knockers hit the streets and distribute flyers and inform the community. An excellent method of promoting a drama, song fest, or similar event is to print up a professional looking “free” ticket. It simply gives the name, date, address and says “admit one free.” Go door to door and distribute them to whoever desires to come. But be sure to get the name and phone number of all you give them to. Why? Because about three days before the event you will want to call each to “confirm their reservation.” It works great!
Several keys to success with door knocking are: (1) Select well in advance what method of door knocking you wish to use. Then you will want to be sure to train your team properly in how to be effective in each method utilized. (2) Start your door knocking team out in lower class neighborhoods. Their results will be much better. As they gain confidence, then you can move up to better neighborhoods. (3) Dividing the door knocking group into smaller “teams” and occasionally having some friendly competition is a good way to build enthusiasm. Make sure you lay out the ground rules well before beginning. (4) Encourage those in the church who feel they can’t knock on doors to come to the church and pray for those who do. This “prayer team” should be praying as the door knocking is going on. Appoint a leader over this group and encourage faithfulness. (5) Be consistent. Don’t start this ministry if you don’t plan to keep it going. Skipping months will cause interest to wane. (6) About once a quarter, plan to invite the whole church out on Saturday for a “special” big push. Let all the newcomers know that they will be paired with an experienced door knocker who will do all the talking. Afterward, have a potluck and softball game. This is an excellent way to get new people involved. (7) Don’t “pair-up” the people who participate. The problem that arises from this is that when one of the two can’t come for some reason, the other will not come either. You will have better success by assigning partners after all arrive each month. It’s sometimes fun to draw names “out of a hat.” (8) Areas knocked should be placed on a map so that the team doesn’t overlap themselves.
D. L. Moody is reported to have once said “I would rather train ten soul winners than win ten souls.” The key to effective personal evangelism and outreach is for a pastor to reproduce his burden and ability into the hearts of his people. They must be trained, they must be led, they must be encouraged, they must be organized.
The growing church has found the methods that work best for them and then work them for all they are worth. A pastor cannot allow occasional poor participation to discourage him in consistently sowing the seed of the Word of God. Not everyone will become involved in everything all the time. But it is better to do something than to do nothing.
A visiting pastor is once to have said to his fellow pastor after the announced visitation was poorly attended, “Isn’t it terrible that so few come out for Saturday Door Knocking? This is why I don’t even do it!” To which the pastor replied, “Poor as it is, I like the way we do something better than the way you do nothing!”
May God bless you with an abundance of harvest and a growing church!
Tim Massengale is an instructor at Indiana Bible College and the author of “Total Church Growth” and “Let My People Grow.” He is available for church growth seminars and church growth consulting work. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-800-0247.