I am solidly against Door Knocking for the following reasons:
- It hurts the Church's reputation
- It makes conversions more difficult, if not impossible
- It is unloving
- It is un-scriptural and worldly
Hurts the Church’s Reputation
I read an article recently that was titled “What should you do when religious people come knocking on your door?” where the writer gives advice on how to get those annoying Door Knockers to leave you alone. Because in American culture, an unannounced stranger knocking at your door is considered rude, invasive, and a breach of privacy.
Think for a moment, would Jesus want his disciples to be rude and insensitive when they are representing Him? Of course not, but that is exactly what Christians are when they knock unannounced on a stranger’s door. And that rudeness becomes a reputation that will damage the Church for generations, just as it has done to the Jehovah's Witnesses (and to a lesser degree the Mormons) who are now known and hated for their door-to-door salesperson tactics.
Someone recently exclaimed to me proudly that they had door knocked a neighborhood, and one person might have visited. They believed that this anecdotal evidence proved door knocking is an effective means of spreading the Gospel. But what I heard was: “I just caused an entire neighborhood to hate the Church, and no matter who invites those 30 or so people to a service in the future, they will never come because they now associate the Church with pushy, rude salespeople like the Jehovah's Witness. But I don’t care at all about those 30 people’s souls, or the souls of the friends and family they likely trash-talked the Church to; I only care about the one person who might have visited.”
Can you see how unloving this approach is to spreading the Gospel? I know that this person was sincere in their desire to spread the Gospel, and that those who knock on doors truly believe they are doing a good work, but in truth they are showing a lack of compassion by ignoring the fact that they push far more people away from God then they ever bring to Him.
The Apostles and the early Church were passionate about spreading the Gospel, and we have many recorded examples of how they accomplished it. Early Jewish Christians in Jerusalem spoke in the temple every day (Acts 2:46). The apostle Paul preached to strangers in the marketplace about Christ (Acts 17:17). Christ taught in public places to crowds or sometimes to individuals he met in public like the Samaritan woman at the well. Many times Christ or the Apostles would be invited to someone’s home to share a meal or stay the night, and they would teach whoever was in that home.
Personal evangelism seems to be the most effective mode of spreading the Gospel, such as Philip models in John 1:45-46. This approach relies on creating a relationship with the person you want to share the gospel with; it’s a very loving method, in which the person is receptive to God’s teaching in part because they truly believe that the person sharing it with them has their best interest at heart, and isn't "just trying to sale them something". Notice how this is directly opposite of the cold door-to-door salesperson approach, which shares more in common with Spam Email then it does with any biblical example (by that I mean, Spam Emailers know that most people will not be receptive to their unsolicited sales tactics, but by playing a numbers game and emailing as vast a crowd that they possibly can, they hope at least a few will respond positively, not caring at all that the majority will have a negative response).
There is not a single example or evidence of Christ or the Apostles (or anyone in the early Church) ever canvassing an area by Door Knocking. The historical record suggests that these men never went to a house without first receiving an invitation. In fact, Christ commanded the apostles NOT to teach “door to door” in Luke 10:7.
As I have said before, the practice of Door Knocking originated not in the early Church, but in the 1950’s and 1960’s in the era of door-to-door salespeople. American culture at that time was receptive to unannounced visitors. By the 1980’s though, that attitude had changed drastically, and unwelcome visitors were exactly that, “un-welcomed!" Merchandisers realized this and the practice of door-to-door sales ended, and so should have the practice of Door Knocking in the Church. Unfortunately, the Church has a bad habit of not letting go of traditions and not “testing all things” as 1 Thessalonians 5:21 commands. Many will stubbornly hold to these traditions as if they were the word of God, and will refuse to hear evidence or reason that is opposite their stance. This is not a Godly attitude to take though, and we must strive to lovingly teach the scripture's stance on how to properly spread the Gospel before more damage is done to God's Church.
Again, If you hear of a congregation about to have a door knocking, please send them a link to this article and Lord willing they will reconsider this destructive practice.