Let’s just say it: we were all dreading the door knocking that would inevitably happen this week. For even the most mature of Christians, the most seasoned of veterans, this quintessential mission activity makes us feel uncomfortable (to the guy reading this thinking “not me!”…good for you).
Prior to mission I’d had a few conversations with fellow Moore students who were conflicted about their stance on door knocking. Even after a killer Ministry and Mission lecture from Andrew Katay on the necessity of reaching out this way, the doubt remained. There is a nagging voice that tells us we are encroaching upon territory that we have no right to, that we’re wasting time on an ineffectual ministry that will drive people further and further away with an even greater displeasure at the name of Jesus than they might have had to start with.
So what, then. Why do we bother? Are we just masochists who enjoy conquering streets to prove our faithfulness to God and to ourselves?
The truth is, I have struggled to really believe that door knocking is helpful. It is awkward and bears little fruit that I can immediately see. There’s always an encouraging story from such and such a person – but that’s just it – it’s always someone else.
But today was different.
Today Liz W and I joined Diane, who along with her husband John, has committed to reaching out to her street and visiting people to invite them to Easter and Christmas services twice a year.
When I’d heard that Diane had been door knocking her street since 2009, I expected that she would be a super confident, insane extrovert. Actually, she was a normal person and quick to say that she “wasn’t confident at all.” She asked Liz and I about our door knocking experience, as though we’d have anything to teach her. Her humility astounded me.
The reception we got from Diane’s neighbours was the usual. No ground breaking conversations or on the spot conversions, but Diane’s intentionality and care for her neighbours were unlike anything I had seen before in a door knocking situation. She remembered names, she wrote down details, she wanted to remember each person and how they related to her. She wanted to think through good questions to ask when people were interested. She wasn’t ticking off a box. She showed genuine care. This was the first time I’d seen door knocking done in pursuit of real relationships, a kind of outreach that is only possible when people choose to commit to their own neighbours.
Her example provoked in me these conclusions:
1) We door knock because we have a damn good reason.
We have to think about what it is we say we believe. If Christianity is true, if Jesus is Lord, if it is a choice between eternal life and eternal death, then there’s no good reason not to knock on doors. If I really believe this, to the very core of my being, then frankly, I should be knocking on doors daily. I should be sky writing this. I’ve given a year of my life to Moore College. I’ve decided to continue living in Fairfield. I’ve foregone any possibility of international travel or owning a home for the next decade at least because of my commitment to the gospel. And then I’m going to somehow rationalise that it’s not worth knocking on a door? Yeah, that makes sense. (I’m not trying to make a big deal about my ‘sacrifices’, if I sound like a tool, forgive me and just go with it).
2) We door knock because we need to meet people where they’re at.
God isn’t going to send 14 people to your door tomorrow for you to personally evangelise. We need to go and call the elect. The elect will probably live in homes. Ergo…
Mine and Liz’s experience with Diane was ideal. Sometimes Moore College kids need to do a whole bunch of door knocking on behalf of a church because they don’t have the people to do it, but where possible, churches should be partnering their parishioners with students. It puts the students at ease to be with someone local, and it encourages the parishioner and gives them reason to either continue relationships or begin building them. It’s win-win. St Aidan’s has been a brilliant example of this, and I hope they will keep building upon their ‘adopt a block’ initiative.
3) This is not about not being afraid
We’re going to be hesitant about door knocking in one way or another, for now until forever. You will be nervous and afraid. And that’s kind of not a good enough reason not to do it. It’s not about learning not to be afraid, it’s about going out to preach Jesus because your conviction that you should love and serve is greater than your fear. And that goes for all ministry: praying out loud in a group, sharing a testimony, co-ordinating a kids program. It’s got nothing to do with your confidence, or even your competency, but everything to do with your willingness to serve humbly. I’m afraid 99% of the time. The last time I prayed up front of a crowd my legs shook uncontrollably. I expect I will tremble as I give my testimony at the 8am service on Sunday morning. But it is the grace of God in my life that I will be sharing, so what of the fear?
Maybe I should give you a bible verse, something about beautiful feet, etc. to encourage you. But I’ll tell you what I told a full house at MYC some years ago, when I was shaking and sweaty (gross, but true) from fear at being the centre of 300 people’s attention: when it comes to ministry, and when it comes to door knocking: suck it up princess.