Training in Door to Door Visitation
Written by Michael Green and Jane Holloway
You can download the PDF of this resource here.
Door to door visiting is largely neglected by the churches, and left to the sects and the travelling salesmen!
But still we may be led to visit selected people, or to visit down a street.
In either case, we would be wise to keep these considerations in mind.
Preparation is needed even for something so unpredictable as visiting.
We need a warm heart
We need a heart full of Jesus’ love, before we will give ourselves to such a daunting task. Maybe read Luke 15, or 2 Corinthians 4 or 5 or John 21, before going out. I often go back to Acts 9:11, the story of the reluctant visitor!
- The Lord called Ananias because he needed him (v10).
- The Lord told him to go and visit a home (v11).
- There was someone in that home in deep need (v11).
- God had already prepared that person to be receptive (v11).
- Ananias was reluctant: this man was too prejudiced, too tough, too hostile (v13).
- At the second attempt, Ananias went, no doubt in fear and trembling (v17).
- His approach was natural, friendly, direct (v17).
- His message was of Jesus, who can open blind eyes and fill an empty life (v17).
- He found a very practical ministry was awaiting him in that house (vv18-19).
- His obedience was rewarded in the conversion of Saul and his filling with the Spirit.
We need a cool head
We need to listen carefully to the instructions we have been given, familiarise ourselves with the geography, and if possible know the names of those to be visited. Go equipped with a pen, a notebook (to take down the details of each visit), and a few tracts, booklets or Gospels which could come in handy, along with a leaflet about forthcoming events. Have a good grasp of what goes on in your church for all ages, so that you can offer appropriate suggestions for the household.
You may feel happier visiting two by two: there is a biblical precedent!
- Don't work your way down one side of the street consistently: people may see you coming and not let you in.
- It is easiest to fill in information about your last visit when you are standing in your next doorway, before you actually knock. You are practically invisible then.
- Pray on the doorstep; pray for your initial impact, for humour, self-forgetfulness, and warmth.
- Remember, if you are afraid, that you have the initial advantage. They are not expecting you, and may be busy, defensive, suspicious. So smile. God loves you!
- If a child opens the door, ask them to go get one of their parents, and if the child accompanies the adult, make sure you involve them in the conversation.
- First impressions are crucial. So introduce yourself with a friendly `Hi' or `Hello'. Announce your name, your authority (from the church or the mission) and your purpose.
- Be cheerful, be unfailingly courteous, be natural. Make it plain you are not out to con them or get something out of them, but to love them and give something to them.
- Don't be dismayed if you are seldom invited in. But get in if you can. Don't outstay your welcome.
There is, of course, no blueprint. Keep your eyes open for any lead, any common ground. Here are some possible aims you might bear in mind:
- Aim to establish a good relationship. Let them see you are not odd. Never argue, never be rude. Open the way for a return visit, which will often be much easier.
- Aim to gather information about the house and family which could be handy for future use - are there kids who could be invited to a Sunday school party, is there a one-parent family which could do with some practical assistance, etc?
- Aim to impart information about forthcoming events. Concentrate on a single event, and see if they would like you to pick them up before going to it - they might well not bother (or dare) to come on their own. ‘Come with me’ is powerful; ‘Do go’ is not!
- Aim to speak of Jesus, to mention his name one way or another. It is he who can meet their need. He is indeed the only card in our pack! And many people do not know that the heart of Christianity is not a system but the person of Jesus. It is at this juncture that a word of testimony can be so effective.
- It may be suitable to pray for the house, or the person, or some need you have discovered. People often value this, even if they do not pray themselves. NB: Use a natural voice!
- It could be good to leave a bit of literature behind.
These are sure to emerge if you get into a conversation of any length. Sometimes they will be excuses: ‘The minister has never called… I went to church too much when I was young… I can worship God in my backyard’. Sometimes they will be real difficulties, such as the divided state of the church, the New Age movement, the implausibility of Christianity in a secular age, the problem of suffering, the aching heart of a battered wife or a single mother.
Try to analyse whether it is an excuse or a problem you are dealing with. Excuses come from hard hearts; problems come from confused minds. I sometimes say, ‘If I were able to answer this to your satisfaction, do you think that the way would be clear to your opening up your life to Christ?’ If not, don't bother with the excuse. Answering it won't help. Showing that you have seen through it may.
Always be courteous, humble and loving. Never seek to score points. Always seek to find out and maximise any common ground.
- When out of sight, jot down any comments you have, and any information that is not confidential which might be passed back to those who sent you.
- Pray for the house you have just visited.
- Decide if a further visit in a day or two's time would be fruitful.
- Do not be discouraged. If you are, it will show in your manner, and you will not be a good witness. Read Isaiah 55:11. Claim Christ's power as you go. Claim Christ's presence, and as he bade you, go (Matthew 28:18-20)!
Michael Green and Jane Holloway.
© Michael Green and Jane Holloway.