By Tim Massengale
Mark North looked over the restaurant menu, trying to decide between the Bacon Bleu-Cheese Burger or the Super-Loaded Nacho Cheese Chips.
The elderly pastor that sat across from him spoke up first. “I’ll have a small dinner salad and the Moroccan Style Grilled Chicken with eggplant and peppers. Water to drink, two lemons please.”
Mark groaned. “Ah, man! What did you go and do that for? Now you’re guilting me into staying on my diet.”
Brother Vernon Baker arched a craggy gray eyebrow. “Order what you want, son – don’t let me stop you. But when you get to be my age, you realize that good health is a choice best not left to chance.”
“Yah, right.” Mark glanced up at the waitress who watched the interchange with amusement. “Gimme the Chicken-Caesar Salad with ranch dressing on the side. Unsweetened ice tea, no lemon.”
Handing back the menu, Mark sighed. “Thanks for meeting me for lunch, Elder. I know you are busy.”
“I never turn down a free meal. What’s on your mind?”
Don’t Knock Door Knocking
“I just wanted to get your thoughts on door knocking. I know it’s something that you advocate in the sample Outreach Job Description you gave me. It also appears as one of the choices that people can check on the A.C.T.I.O.N. Outreach Commitment form. So we have been going door-to-door for about six months now. Frankly, it’s not working too well. We have only made a few good contacts from the hours we have been going out. And it’s getting harder and harder to get my saints to participate. This past Saturday only three showed up, plus my wife and I. We knocked on doors in a new neighborhood from 10:00 AM until about 1:00 PM. We got zilch. Invited a lot of people though. But I wanted to check with you to make sure we were not doing something wrong.” Mark paused, before going on. “Otherwise, we’ll probably stop doing it.”
Elder Baker squeezed the lemons into his water and stirred it slowly. “Let me ask you a few questions, Mark. First, what are you knocking on doors for? What are you offering?”
“Offering? Well, our church, of course. We have a nice color brochure that tells all about our church and we invite people to visit us.”
“And that’s all? Just inviting people to church?
The young pastor nodded.
“Well, that’s your first problem. That may have worked forty years ago, but today you have to offer people something.”
“Offer something? Like what?”
“We offer a number of things, based upon what is our area of greatest need. You remember from the Church Growth Spiral, there are four evangelism goals we set each quarter? We set goals for visitors, home Bible studies, personal witnessing, and Sunday school attendance. These reflect the four most successful methods of evangelism. Well, if we are falling short of any of our goals, that will be what we target in Saturday Door-knocking.
Free Tickets For All
“For example, if we are low on first-time visitors, I might plan a three-night Endtime Prophecy Crusade. We will print up a nice flyer. Plus, we always try to make up tickets for these special events. It looks very official, with a red ticket number and everything. The thick-paper ticket tells the name of the event along with location, dates, times, and contact information. But in bold letters it says, “Admit One Free.” As we go door-to-door we will basically say, “Hi! We are informing people in this area of an upcoming Endtime Prophecy Crusade that will be held at the First Apostolic Church on East Street (and we hand them a flyer). And, if you think you might be interested, we are also giving out free tickets to attend (and we hand them a ticket). Seating is somewhat limited but we would love to have you come.”
“If they express any interest, we talk about the crusade – sell it a bit. Then we give them as many tickets as they think they might need. But we always write down who we gave the tickets to, their phone number and best time to call. We stress that they are under no obligation to come, but with limited seating, we would like to call a few days before to confirm their reservation. We get about a 40% show rate on the tickets we hand out.”
Mark nodded. “So do you call before the crusade?”
“Absolutely. We gather a group at the church with cell phones about three days before and call every person to whom we gave tickets. Sometimes they ask for additional tickets, which we mail the next day. We have found if we call and confirm their reservation, about 90% that say ‘yes’ on the phone will show up. We pack out the house. So you see, Mark, we go door-to-door and offer them something – free tickets to a special event.”
“That is so cool!”
“We do this several times a year – for our Easter Drama, our Spring Block Party, for our Tent Revival, our Summer Songfest in the Park, and our Christmas Cantata. Some events, like the Easter drama, we have to have multiple showings because of the number of people that want to come. And in case you are wondering – we follow-up on every visitor with a phone call, a letter, and a visit to their home to invite them back. We organize the follow-up right along with the event.”
Mark nodded. Their food came, so they both paused in their discussion to start eating. Then, between bites, Mark continued. “Okay, so you do ticket distribution door to door. What else?”
“We also go door-to-door to get home Bible studies. Have you ever used the Quest Survey?”
“Not yet. But I remember hearing you talk about it. Isn’t that some kind of questioneer?”
“Yes. It was developed several years ago by an Apostolic who was a professional market survey analyst. It asks ten ‘yes-no’ type questions. But during the survey it also asks ‘why’ several times. This gets the person talking and sharing, which is important. So you are interacting with them on subjects like miracles, end times, and the will of God for their life. At the conclusion of the survey the person conducting the interview states, “Thank you so much for your time. We also want you to know that Quest is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people know more about the Bible. They are offering the folks in this area the opportunity for a free Bible study course right in your own home. It’s non-denominational, totally free, and you will never be asked to join a church. It’s simply Quest’s desire that everyone that wishes to know more of the Word of God would have the opportunity to do so. Would you be interested in such a study?”
“Wow! Does it work?”
“We get studies every time we go out. Knock on 100 doors, fifty will be home. A little under half of those will take the survey. We get a Bible study for every 10-15 surveys we complete. So again, we are offering them something – a free Bible survey course in their own home.”
“I’m loving it! What else?”
Bus and Car Ministry
“We also sign-up bus kids. Here we don’t so much go door-to-door as we troll the neighborhoods looking for kids playing outside. We drive around in the church bus with our door knocking team. We will approach the kids with flyers telling about a special kids event at church the next day –a candy rain, a drawing for a free prize, or free hot-fudge sundaes. If they are interested in coming we go talk to the parents and get permission to pick them up in the church bus the next morning. We always come back with lots of new riders for our bus ministry.”
Mark had turned his placemat over and was busy taking notes in between bites of salad. “Forgive me, Elder. I forgot my notebook.”
The old pastor grinned. “We also find people for our car ministry. I’m constantly asking my saints: ‘If there was a person in your neighborhood, or along your normal driving route to church, that would come to church if they only had a ride, would you be willing to pick them up?’ If they agree, we then send a door knocking team – usually two or three couples – into their neighborhood and knock on doors all around their house. We inform each home that we are launching a transportation ministry in that neighborhood for people that don’t have a way to attend church. We ask if they attend church on Sunday morning and if not, would they or anyone in the home be interested in attending a wonderful church on Sunday morning. We almost always find someone for the saint to pick up. Usually it’s elderly person who can no longer drive. Occasionally it’s a young mother whose husband has the only car at work or a teen looking for youth fellowship. Poor neighborhoods tend to have more transportation needs than more affluent ones, but we find people all over. After they come for a few months they usually end up getting saved.
Sunday School Enrollment
“Finally, at least once a year we do an ‘Enroll-To-Grow’ campaign. This is a program where we pre-enroll entire families into our Sunday school right on the door step. We ask if they are members of a Sunday school in town, and if not, we show them the benefits of being a member of ours: free religious education for your children, free pastoral counseling, a minister to perform ceremonies such as baby dedications, marriages, and funerals; wholesome youth group activities for teens, and more. There is a great brochure that explains all of this. If they are interested, we make an appointment for one of our trained staff to return that evening. We sit down in their living room, go over once again the benefits, and then complete the enrollment form for being a member of our Sunday school. There is a whole packet that goes with it – it looks quite impressive. We have found that about 50% of those that pre-enroll will attend occasionally on Sunday morning. Their kids often come every Sunday. But we contact them for every special Sunday service. We have won a number of families from our efforts.
“So you see, Mark, we never go out and simply invite people to church. You are asking them to do something for you. Door knocking success comes when you offer something of benefit to them. What they don’t realize is we are really offering the greatest gift of all – true Bible salvation. I would not trade my Saturday door knocking teams for anything. They are one of my most productive ministries.”
Mark had finished eating, but continued to write. Finally he laid his pen down and took long drink from his glass. With a grin, he sat back. “Nothing like a working lunch, Elder! This is great. I can now see why we were having such poor luck. But one last question. Most pastors I’ve talked to say that the days of effective door knocking are over. That people won’t come to their doors anymore.”
Door Knocking Still Works
The old pastor grinned. “Really? Is that so? Then pray tell me why the two fastest growing denominations in the USA last year were the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses – two organizations known best for their door-to-door efforts?
“I’ll grant you, it’s more difficult today than it was back when I first started pastoring. But with the approaches I’ve just given you, it’s still a highly productive ministry. And I have found an important secondary benefit. Saturday door knocking brings a revival attitude and spirit to your church. You see, Mark, anyone that will knock on the door of a stranger and talk to them about God will have no trouble talking to their neighbor and co-worker. This ministry gives a church holy-boldness. I love to get new converts involved. I pair them with an experienced saint and send them out. They come back all fired up and excited. New converts will often become some of your best soul winners. But you have to let them taste the excitement of soul wining. This approach works great for us.”
Mark nodded his agreement as the waitress approached with their check. “Not so quick, my dear,” Brother Baker said to her. “Bring me one of those double chocolate turtle-sundaes with extra whipped cream.”
Mark looked surprised. “Hello! What about the speech you just gave me on eating healthy and all?”
“And I meant it. I just had a nice healthy low-fat lunch. Now I’m getting some extra vitamins from chocolate and ice cream. Haven’t you heard that chocolate is rich in antioxidants?”
Mark laughed and ordered the same for himself. Like with door knocking, wise choices had its rewards.
If you would like a more detailed explanation of any outreach method mentioned in this article, please call 1-800-800-0247. Ask for the ‘Door Knocking Evangelism Methods’ packet. Cost is $4.00 plus postage.