We went to a training event hosted by Communidad en Cristo Baptist Church in Memphis, TN. They go door-to-door regularly in their community. They teach others. Some people there will even show up to do it with you. Below is a transcript of their session on door-to-door evangelism. It's their words unless I note otherwise. Like my site, feel free to use any of this at your church to read neighborhoods in your city.
Also, this transcript uses the Red/Yellow/Green/Blue light model. That just tells you where they're at in terms of being receptive. Red's are clearly not interested. Yellow's are people who let you talk to them. Green's are accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Blue is a believer who we'll encourage, maybe disciple, and get into the battle with us.
We do this every week. There's a low ROI on this. More people come to
faith through social networks (video)
than this. What I've found is training people to do this, being
intentional by putting it in the calendar, having a rhythm of
intentionally pursuing the kingdom (1hr-2hr) one day a week. What that
does to the other 6 days of the week. That's the secret sauce. Get people
with you, pour into them, get them uncomfortable, that's where the magic
happens. This does something to you that I can't explain. It's the most
uncomfortable thing. All you can rely on is God. You'll fumble your way
through. My daughter drew four circles the other day. The goal is
obedience. We don't have nothing to do with or control this. There is a
Lord of the harvest. It's not us.
Simulate it with a homeowner and evangelist.
There's no right way to do this. We've tried it, failed a lot, and here's some things we learned to do.
If he hasn't cussed us out, kicked us off the front porch, looked through the blinds, talked to us through the rain... you name it. The cops have been called on us. Name it and we've been involved in it probably.
Knock on the door and ring the doorbell. Sales 101. Know door to door sales? The first 15-30 seconds they don't hear or care anything about what you're saying. They're mind is processing, "Are they a threat? Why are they on my porch? What are they trying to sell me? Are they Jehovah's Witnesses?" We just try to break down the barrier just smiling, being happy people who love Jesus, and greeting them.
Chris might say. "Look I'm not here to sale you anything." Depending on what neighborhood you're in. Being direct sometimes helps: "Hey, I'm here to have a conversation with you about God. Is now a good time? If not, I can come back later."
We went through Acts 17. Nothing you can say will make the person accept Jesus. God is either drawing them where they're ready to receive or He's not. So, there is no secret sauce or magic.
"Might say, 'My name is Chris. This is Noel. We're just out right now to see if you have any prayer needs. One of the greatest ways to help is we can pray for you. We're just going door to door seeing if anybody has any prayer requests." Generally lowers the threat level. Easy one.
"Another one is we care about this neighborhood. We care about it a lot. We live here. We really just want to check on the neighborhood and see how everyone's doing." Another good one to break down those barriers. Another person adds they say, "Yeah, I live over on this street." That makes the connection that you're not just a random person.
Ok, we knock on the door.
Evangelist: "Hey, nice to meet you. I'm Noel. This is my friend Chris. We're out in Nutbush today. Just loving on the community. There's so much craziness going on in the world today. We're just out to love people and pray for them. Do you have anything going on in your life today that I can pray for you about?"
Homeowner: "Are you all trying to sell me something?"
Evangelist: "No, not at all. We're not here to sell you anything at all. We truly just care about this neighborhood. Our friend is a pastor here. He's down the street on Orchi. We just go out, meet people's needs, get to know the community. So, what..."
Notice what I'm doing. First, I ask whether they have anything to pray for. They didn't give me anything. So, now I'm going to ask an open-ended question where he has to tell me something. I'm going to switch from do you have anything to I know you got something in your life. I'm going to say, "What is the greatest need in your life and how can we pray for it?" Little changes in wording will help draw him in. See what he's saying, he's trying to figure this out. His mind is processing that I'm not a threat, I really just want to pray for him, that's weird, and all this is going on in their head.
Evangelist: "What is the greatest need in your life and how can we pray for it?"
Homeowner: "Just life is stressful right now. Work is kind of crazy. My wife is mad at me a lot."
Evangelist: "I'm so sorry... I appreciate you sharing that with us. That's not uncommon. A lot of people tell us that. Do you mind sharing anything more specific about what's going on?"
Homeowner: "Yeah, ummmm...." (confused look) (everyone laughs)
Ok, so you see what we're doing. If you study Jesus, there's an interesting thing where He starts in the natural world. He's engaging with them about something in normal conversation. Then, He makes this intentional switch into the spiritual world. You're intentionally going to the spiritual world to see if they're a person of peace. This shift happens.
So, he started opening up to us. He's talking about work, his wife arguing with him, and now we show up. These conversations can be just amazing. Right now, is he a red light, yellow, green, or blue? Yellow. He hasn't kicked us off the porch yet. He's still open. Still cautious. We just want to keep engaging with him. And, again, you'll fumble your way through this. Just keep talking to him. Tell them "thank you for sharing."
Typically, I'll intentionally switch it over to the spiritual world:
Evangelist: "Do you have any kind of faith background?"
Homeowner: "Yeah, my family was in church. I grew up always going to church. Right now, with COVID and everything, I don't go to church."
Evangelist: "Lot of people are out of church right now over that. Where were you going?"
Homeowner: "My parents go to Blah Blah Blah Church."
Evangelist: "Yeah, Blah Blah. That's a good church..."
(Everyone laughs again. One shouts, "There's a lot of blah blah blah churches!")
Audience member adds: "If they can't name their own church, they're not really going."
You can find out if they really go to that church by saying, "That's great. What's the pastor's name over there?" You're really just trying to figure out where they are spiritually.
Ok, that one went really well. Let's try a Red Light now.
Homeowner: "There's a sign on my door that says No Soliciting. Can I help yall!?"
Evangelist: "Good thing is that we're not soliciting. We're not here to sell you anything. We just want to see if we can talk to you for a minute."
Homeowner: "Talk to me about what?"
Evangelist: "Well, everything going on in the world right now being crazy. Could you agree with that? (Yeah sure.) So, we're just out and about saying what's the biggest need you have in your life that we could pray about?"
Homeowner: "I'm really good. Everything in my life is going good right now. Thanks for coming over."
Evangelist: "So, if God could answer a prayer for you right now, what would that be?"
Homeowner: "I'm actually a little busy right now. Thanks for coming over."
Evangelist: "It will only take a few minutes. We're not going to take up much of your time."
A year ago, I'd say, "He gave me my out. I'm out. I don't want to be here anyways. I don't want to talk to this guy. I really don't." Now, I'm like, "I'm not getting off the front porch." I'm going to keep at it... in a loving way. There's nobody out there that has nothing going on in their life. I've been kicked off more doors by people that are Christians than people who aren't Christians. I'm going to keep pressing to find out what's going on in his life. He's probably going to be a red light. That's OK.
Not big deal. We're going to love him. There's lots of apps you can track this on, esp for churches. Encounter Outreach is a great app. It's free. It will GPS where you're at. You can click on there, put in the name of the people, detailed notes of the conversation, and print out a map of where you've been. There's another called Bless Every Home. So many tools out there to help track this.
We don't want to give up on him and never go back to his house. Maybe he really is busy in a business meeting. So, we want to come back.
Now, let's do a green light.
Homeowner: "Hey, how's it going?"
Evangelist: "Good man, how are you?"
Homeowner: "Good, what are yall doing?"
Evangelist: "We're just out in the neighborhood. Right now, with everything going on in the world with it being so crazy... we just wanted to see if there's anything that we can pray for you. Any prayer requests? What's the greatest need you have going on right now?"
Homeowner: "Yeah, it's actually kind of crazy that yall showed up. I just had... my mom just passed away last week. It's been a really, rough season in my life. I've been depressed and down."
Three months ago this happened. They showed up and the woman they talked to, her sister died that day. She breaks down and cries. And they embrace this girl. These are actually things that are going on and happening to people. (Guy playing homeowner adds he's speaking from an actual experience, too.)
Ok, boom, what do we do? Maybe pull out Three Circles. There's a lead called the Pocket Testament Lead. You can brand it by your non-profit or your church. It's simply the Gospel of John. They're free. They want you to make a donation. They typically ask for a dollar each. I use these. I pull them out. I always have a pen on me so I can draw the three circles. That way I can give it to them. Give them a Bible. These are just great tools. You can leave your number with them. All these things.
So, he comes to Christ, right? What are the next steps? We start discipling them. What I used to do is say come to church. Now, we want to get them immediately into obediently following Jesus Christ. We want to get a community of people fiercly following Jesus Christ. That's the goal.
We'll do a blue light now. Every once in a while, you'll meet a believer. They goes to church, been a Christian my whole life, etc. In that scenario, make sure he's with a group of people who are obeying Jesus together. But, what does Luke 10:2 say? "The laborers are few." So, we want to get the brother into the harvest with us! Praise God that you follow Jesus.
We ran into one recently. We said, "Chris, man, we do this every week. We've been in your neighborhood. Been here a while. We want you to come do this with us. We'll help equip you, train you." We want to train him, help him reach his Oikos, and recruit him into the harvest. As uncomfortable as it is, that's the best way to do things. We could just say, "I'm rolling (done)." But, follow me as I follow Christ, right?
Q: What are some good ways to find people of peace? Is it just someone
that's interested to talk to you? Or is it more specific? We do get people
that are happy to have us. They can talk to us for 2 or 3 hours. But is
this person actually spiritually interested?
There's a few questions that we ask ourselves:
"Do they receive the messenger?"
"Are they receiving the message?"
"Are they willing to go on mission with us?"
Are they going to step into this? We need fellow co-laborers. We're in battle. If they receive those things, that's how the network would describe that this is a person of peace. If one is a no, then there's some yellow light we need to work on.
Q: I invited someone to come do something like this. He declined saying we will turn people off.
I've gotten that a lot. The best thing I like to do is go through the study. Go back through Luke 10. Because I'm not going to convince them. There's so many people who have been hurt by so much fake stuff. So, just take them through the study. The goal is to get in total agreement with God.
My buddy over here is on the SWAT team. We joke about this. There's no theological discussions on SWAT teams. You either obey the commander and do the mission or get off the team. In the same sense, these aren't my orders. If you don't agree, talk to God cuz I didn't write it. But, in a loving way, we want to take them to the Word on this. (interrupted)
Audience: A lot of times God has people prepared out there if you'll just put yourself out there. I've ran into people. Example. There's an apartment complex we were engaging. The first time we approached this place, there was a woman out there who went up to me asking what we were doing out there. I wasn't prepared for that at all. But this lady became my person of peace. She wouldn't believe the Gospel but she gave me entry. The guy who owned the apartment complex. She knew everybody over there. She was kind of this gateway. She loved the messenger, didn't accept the message, and was still an avenue that God used to make all sorts of other connections, too. That sometimes is the way a person of peace takes form.
(From a trainer:)
This kind of stuff makes my wife, an introvert, sick to her stomach. She
doesn't like this. She can pray like no other, though. There's still roles
for people who can't easily share with others. Just come to pray with us!
I've often seen a thing happen, though, where you start talking. Then, a lady is breaking down crying. Then, love overcomes the fear. A beautiful thing happens.
I'll warn not to force people into stuff like this. Don't drag them in. It can make you feel bad and convicted and shameful. This is made for people like me who love talking to people.
(My supplement and counter:)
I just want to add one thing to what you said on introverts. I'll caution anyone about assuming that because they're an introvert they weren't called to go and talk to people out there. The reason is that God also uses people in their weakness. Some people He will equip to do what they're incapable of doing. It might stun you all but I'm often really introverted. I even had PTSD. When I came to Jesus, He knocked that out and made me calmer when I was talking to people.
It's still hard and awkward. It's just that when He's working in a situation, He makes it easier. When I go and do something not for Jesus, it's still a nightmare. If doing it for Him, He'll make it easier so it's not as big of a deal. For some of you, it might be that way. Don't underestimate what the Holy Spirit might do.
Q: If it's a yellow light, do you go back to specific homes often?
The best I've seen is Josh, a pastor in East Memphis. He uses the Encounter Outreach app. He actually created a landing page for his church on the web site. Whoever goes out fills it out, takes less than 3 min. It autopopulates into an Excel spreadsheet that shows him every opportunity. It says on there whether a follow-up is needed. He can assign people in his body to go and deliver care packages, deliver Bibles, do next steps, etc. If you connected at the door, you want to take ownership of that. Get their number. Giving yours isn't good enough because most of the time they won't call you. Have next steps.
(How to share, conversational openers, or back to main page.)