This week, in preparation of our Easter service, I got the bright idea to knock doors in the neighborhood surrounding where we meet on Sunday mornings. I've been out door knocking several times throughout the years, so this experience wasn't new to me. A few lessons hit home for me this week, and I'd like to share what ran across my mind while I was door knocking:
- As a minister, I have no right to expect the folks I preach for, to invite random strangers to worship with us, if I'm not personally doing that. Is door knocking the best form of evangelism, or the most productive? No, but that's not always the point though. I think friendship evangelism is the best, where you share your faith naturally, within a friendship that already exists. But beyond that, I feel we have a responsibly to share the good news with all people, or at least as many as we can, and sometimes that means we need to create opportunities and open doors.
- If we as a church can't at least invite the people living within eyesight of our location, we really are shortsighted. We can't really call ourselves evangelistic, if we aren't out encouraging people who see our cars parked every Sunday morning in their neighborhood. The corollary to this is, we really can't be effective in reaching out to our region if we neglect the people we pass every Sunday on the way to worship.
- We need more patience. This truth is twofold: Number one, when you knock on a door, and you have to stand there and wait for a response, you realize how fast-paced our lives are and we really don't wait for much these days. Secondly, not every person you talk to is going to run straight to church, throw up their hands in surrender and beg to become a Christian, at least not on your first visit.
- Without being impatient, we need to regain a sense of urgency. People are dying without the Lord, and, Jesus is coming back someday, any day really. Somehow the feeling of urgency is rekindled when you knock on a few doors.
- Something else occurred to me this week too. We live in a really diverse community. When you slow down enough to walk through another neighborhood and examine the architectural differences, really see the lawn ornaments people display, and smell the aroma of houses that cook differently than you do, you get a whole new view and appreciation of your town. You suddenly realize these are real people I've been driving past week after week, and while not everyone lives the same way we do, or sees the same priorities we see, yet we have to meet people where they are; not where we expect them to be.
He was in rags, his shoes were falling apart, his shirt was missing several buttons. He had grime under his fingernails that seriously looked to be 20 years old. I know this firsthand, he held out his hand to shake mine, and he didn't let go for quite some time. My guess was, it had been well over a decade since he last bathed.
He asked me, "Did the Lord Call you?" I said, "Yes." He asked next, "What did He call you to do?" I said, "To share the good news of Jesus." He then asked me, "What are you doing?" And I said I was out inviting people to our big Easter service, so I handed him an invitation card and invited him. He thanked me and walked off with the card.
About 20 minutes later, the same homeless, shabby looking man approached me again. We had some more small talk, and he asked me an unusual question, at least it seemed surreal at the time... He wanted to know what he could pray about, because he was going to be praying for me...