We all met in the parking lot of the high school we meet in on Sundays. There were not many of us, but the team was strong nonetheless. We had a mission and we were determined to accomplish it.
It was Easter week and had about 200 New Testament ESV Bibles, gospel tracts, and hand-written invitations to hand out. All of this was in a neat little bag we were able to get from Crossway for about $1 a bag. The material was powerful, but we knew the greatest impact would be our faces on the doorsteps of a few unknown families inviting them to join us for Easter. With highlighted maps in hand, we divided and conquered passing out all 200 bags in just about an hour.
As we were driving away, I was telling my dad (who was part of the team) that I genuinely thought this was effective and we needed to do it more often. I then asked him, “Didn’t the founding pastor of that church I grew up in go door to door all the time?”
My Dad replied, “Yes… he use to talk about how he wore out a pair of shoes inviting people to come to the church…”
With that I began thinking and strategizing about how I would take time regularly on my way home from the office to stop by a few houses and invite people to church. There is nothing like a personal invitation, and this can be a positive thing for a planting pastor (or replanting pastor, in my case) to do in the community the church is planting within.
However, as I learned from doing this last week, and in times before, there are few keys to making door-to-door ministry and invitations work. Here are a few I came up with:
- Have something to give them. A person is going to look at your face first and your hands second to see what you are selling; they will assume that is why you are there. It is best if you have something you can leave with them. I will usually take a Bible, and a business card.
- Be conscience that you interrupted something. They weren’t expecting you – and truthfully they may be annoyed you just “showed up.” Say something like, “sorry to interrupt you…” or “Hi, I am so-n-so and I will take just a second of your time…” I also will usually thank them for answering the door when I leave.
- Introduce your self in a way that lets them know you are not selling something. They will automatically assume you are selling something – or that you are Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness. Relieve their suspicions by quickly saying something like,
“Good evening, My name is so-n-so and I am the pastor of the such-n-such church right down the street. I just wanted to take a second to introduce myself and invite your to our service on Sunday. I also brought some information about our church if you’d like to know more…”
Just let them know you are not going to give them a sales pitch – about a product, your church, or even Jesus. Make yourself available to listen, and if they want to talk, they will.
- Be brief, unless they want to talk longer. Last week, our youth pastor was passing out the Easter bags and he said one guy just came out of the house and wanted to have a whole conversation on the porch. This was unexpected, but Shannon said it was cool when the guy just entered into a conversation with Him. We laughed later about how the guy probably just was lonely with only he and his dog home, so Shannon was a pleasant surprise. Whatever the cause, be ready to talk longer if they want to – and if they don’t, be okay with that.
- Keep track of where you go. I use a map in my car that a Realtor gave me to track where I go. There are also other ways to do this electronically with maps on your phone or computer. Whatever the means, just try to keep track where you go so (1) you know where to start next time, and (2) you don’t hit the same homes too many times at the risk of being seen as a pest.
In the end, remember that there is power in a personal invitation. There may be some people out there that need someone to show up on their door step to get them to go to church – the very thing their family or coworker has been inviting them to for years. Who know how God may use that visit; be willing and ready to be used.
What else would you suggest to the person or pastor who showed up at your door to invite you to church?
Looking for more on the topic of Evangelism? Check out this post:
Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God