A Criticism of Evangelism Answered


A couple months ago I posted on why I love my church. An Anonymous commenter said this:

I live on the 1700 block of S. Third St. and your “progressive” church has never even tried to reach my building. maybe you should spend less time blogging and more time reaching your community, but wait, isn’t that why you went there in the first place?

While I am disturbed on one level (the attitude and anonymity of the commenter) I am more bothered by the fact that the critique went un-defined and without a positive way we might grow in evangelism. [Sidenote: If you want to comment on this blog, have the integrity to stand behind what you say. In the meantime, read this post.] My hope is that Anonymous will read this response (which is the beginning of my reply to him).

Firstly, what does it mean to “reach” a building or a person? I think I have in mind what he means: doing some kind of outreach that would entail knocking on doors, doing a survey, trying to share some points about how someone might go about becoming a Christian. While this might work (by the way, there was a group of folks that went out in the neighborhood to do some surveys and such a year or so ago), I think we should critique the method. Very seldom does this method work. At least in a biblical sense. People may hear the Gospel and be called to respond, but is there evidence that this person is truly saved (i.e. attending church, fellowshipping with other Christians, having a hunger for the Bible, etc)? If we want to build up our confidence (and sometimes, pride) then it might just work at doing that.

I have been involved in such evangelistic “campaigns” and have to say, there is little lasting fruit. We can give ourselves a pat on the back and claim that we are persecuted for the sake of Christ. But is this actually why people don’t come to church as a result of this method? To some degree, granted, but most of the time it’s due to the method. Imagine your in your apartment vacuuming the carpet and there’s a ring at the door. Turning off the vacuum and going to the door, you see a person (or two or five) standing there with big grins on their faces.

“Hello, my name is Matthew Wireman. I am a member of Third Avenue Baptist Church up the street. We are going door to door and asking people if we can talk to them about the most important thing in our lives. Would you mind if we chatted with you?” How strange! Really. Think about it. How strange is it when a Mormon or a Jehovah’s Witness does this? How upset do we get (as Christians, mind you, who are supposed to love our neighbor and not ridicule)? I don’t know about you, but my day has been interrupted for the sake of some stranger coming to my door and wanting to talk to me about eternal matters. How surprised should we be when people frown, close the door, and then tell their neighbor how ridiculous the whole ordeal was…how Christians don’t have a clue? This, in my estimation, is not reaching someone.

Secondly, Anonymous recommended that I spend less time blogging and more time reaching my community. It is interesting that he is being reached by reading this blog, isn’t it? Or is just me that sees the irony? Not to mention the other folks I have dialogued with from California to Connecticut via this “trivial tool”? I would be slow to speak about blogging not being a means to reach both your immediate context and one that is thousands of miles away.

I will write some more regarding a critique of the traditional door-to-door model of evangelism. I want to think through some more what it would look like to invest time in relationships and genuinely care about someone’s eternal destiny, rather than the numbers of people I have talked to (and unintentionally turned away).

Comments 7

  1. Maybe you should just hit the 1700 block of S. Third… sounds like someone there is just beggin’ for a door-to-door evangelist to stop by :)

  2. Dissident JW member speaks out.

    The core dogma of the Watchtower organization is that Jesus had his second coming ‘invisibly’ in the year 1914.Their entire doctrinal superstructure is built on this falsehood.

    Jehovah’s Witnesses door to door recruitment is by their own admission an ineffective tactic (nobody’s home). They have lost membership in all countries with major Internet access because their false doctrines and harmful practices are exposed on the modern information superhighway.

    There is good and valid reasons why there is such an outrage against the Watchtower for misleading millions of followers.Many have invested everything in the ‘imminent’ apocalyptic promises of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and have died broken and beaten.

    Now if you wanted to know about the quality of a product,would you listen to the seller’s pitch or a longtime customer?

    Respectfully,Danny Haszard http://www.freeminds.org (consumer report on the Watchtower organization)

  3. Good thoughts, Wire-man. I think it’s worth doing some hard thinking, not about how to be more creative in our door-knocking, but about how Christians can foster real relationships with real people.

    I hope that’s something that captures the imagination of our little church.

  4. I did! I know of few churches that have blogs and that are thinking of ways that make progress in areas of evangelism and such. It is not meant in the typical CEO/corporate sense. Settle down now…Check out the post I linked to from my blog.

  5. A couple of JW’s stopped by our place a few months ago. I talked to them and told them straight up that I’m Catholic and attend church every Sunday. They asked if I would be willing to meet with them sometime, and I said I would. Well, they never showed up. :) But one of my roommates had a good point: they won’t waste time with anyone who is firm in their beliefs, regardless of what beliefs they have. Instead, if you sound wishy-washy and uncertain about God, or just desperate for a friend, they’ll put you at the top of their list!

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