I awaken from a stupor, wondering who could it be. I didn’t invite anyone over, so it’s probably…
A. A pizza order I forgot about.
B. A drop-in by a friend or family member
C. A salesperson, or…
The worst possible choice –
D. A door-to-door evangelical or Jehovah’s Witness
Most of us in the west have been on the receiving end of a visit by someone doing evangelism door-to-door. And for most, these visits are an unwelcome intrusion in our lives. At worst, we see the drop-ins as a highly irritating invasion of privacy, space, and time. As I watched the first episode of Welcome to the N.H.K., I was struck by familiarity of the door-to-door work that Misaki Nakahara and her elder were doing.
To Knock or Not to Knock
Scenes like the one in the opening episode of Welcome to the N.H.K. are happening right now all over the United States – someone comes to another’s door to warn of what he or she feels is a dire situation, and the response is very negative, or at the least, indifferent. And why wouldn’t it be? Cold-calling is among the easiest ways to anger someone – not only are door-to-door missionaries invading all sorts of tangible and intangible “places,” they’re also trying to engage a person in heavy conversation by surprise. People don’t like this.
So why do they continue? Perhaps it’s because of ignorance or because they feel compelled to because of guilt, peer-pressure, or a more positive reason. But another reason is this: it sometimes works. I’ve heard stories of successful cold turkey evangelism. And in college, one person I visited near my church came to service the next Sunday (yes, I’ve gone a-knockin’, too). I think that in this day and age there are generally better ways to witness, but I don’t deny that God can work in any way he chooses.
Still, is it worth it for the sake of one, disregarding the 100 who now have a more negative view of Christianity? Well, if the parables of the lost coin and the lost sheep tell us anything, the answer is yes. But I think one can have his or her cake and eat it, too. And even further, for the majority/entirety of the reading audience, there’s something I’d like to ask you to do as well the next time someone comes to your doorstep.
First, for those partaking in this type of evangelism, remember this: God doesn’t need you. He will do what He will, and you don’t need to bug the heck out of people for God to work. Witness with your actions while you witness with your words – a kind touch and an understanding response is better than a pushy attitude. Don’t bug the person and represent yourself negatively. Instead, present the gospel, and if the person isn’t interested, give them an out – leave them an email address or phone number where they can contact you if they’re interested, and let God work in that person’s heart.
Attention, Home Dwellers!
And now, for the rest of us. I ask that next time someone comes to your door, be as patient as you can. Listen to that person. Some may be crazies, but you know what? Some might not be – they might have something important to say. If you want, engage them in questioning or a debate – while they may not be prepared, many are and want to talk in this manner. Who knows, you might learn something.
If you’ve had enough, firmly tell them so. If the time is bad, ask them to come back another time – most won’t, but some will.
And if in the end, you didn’t learn anything at all, you probably lost just a bit of your time. But if your curiosity was piqued, it might lead to more understanding about another faith or might be even be a beginning point for your own spiritual journey.
What have been your experiences with door-to-door evangelists? Positive? Negative? Would you be willing to be more open to them than you possibly have been?