Friday, May 15, 2009

Jesus on Door-to-Door Evangelism

"Do not go from house to house."
- Jesus (Luke 10:7b)

If there is a bad idea in the world of American religion, the Missouri Synod will not only put in a toe to test the waters, they will dive in head first. Problem is, nobody has checked to see if there's any water in the pool first.

I keep getting things like "training videos" teaching us how to do "door to door" evangelism, complete with role-playing, a script of sorts, and a gimmick to plug in a person's name in John 3:16 (replacing the inspired word "world" (Greek: kosmos) with the person's name who is standing there at the door wishing you would go away).

Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons are a stench in most people's nostrils because of their annoying door-to-door "evangelism." So what does the LCMS do? Copy them.

Why don't we listen to our Lord's sage words of instruction that he gave to the 72 as they set out to do evangelism? "Do not go from house to house" seems pretty clear to me. But then again, we American Lutherans have learned that words don't mean anything. We can pick and choose which parts of the Lutheran Confessions we like, and discard the rest. So why not just do the same with the Bible?

So much for sola scriptura.

But look, folks, you don't have to take Jesus's word for it (we know so much more in these enlightened times anyway). Just ask yourself (and ten people at random) if they like getting people at their door making these kinds of "evangelism calls." There is a reason the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons are seen as an annoyance.

I guess we have people in leadership in the LCMS that would like to make the Lutherans a third member of the club. But then again, we do have a magazine called the Lutheran Witness.

Lord, have mercy!


Thursday's Child said...

The neighbors downstairs from my in-laws in Lebanon have a sign on their door letting JWs (or Mormons or maybe both) know that they do not want them knocking on their door. It's polite but clear.

I guess they'll have to add Lutherans next? {sigh}

William Weedon said...

Amen! I put it right up there with opening "Coffee House Churches" like they've done in St. Louis. I want to nail to the door of the place the words of St. Paul: "What? Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the Church of God?"

Past Elder said...

Well, what the heck, it's not like we're looking for baptisms or anything, just critical events.

(Note for the excessively literal: this is a joke, the intent being to point out that the door-to-door thing is as goofy as the whole of which it is a part.)

Matthias Flacius said...

I would suggest a related theological concept here. Jesus is teaching against preachers moving constantly moving around looking for a better situation or more lucrative employment. He tells them to "stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give." Don't forsake the call! Don't become an absentee shepherd or always be looking for something better.

WM Cwirla said...

In the same passage, Jesus also says not to take a purse, bag, or sandals. And don't greet anyone on the road. (Luke 10:4)

Father Hollywood said...

Dear WM:

"In the same passage, Jesus also says not to take a purse, bag, or sandals. And don't greet anyone on the road. (Luke 10:4)"

Yep, He sure does. He's obviously not down with Ablaze!(tm) merchandise and "critical events." He just doesn't have a "heart for the lost" I guess.

Mike Baker said...

I am often offended by the narcissism of modern evangelism.

You see it in people who want to be considered modern day apostles and prophets. They are so eager to go to the hard cases and effect dynamic change. They want to rack up the meaningful contacts. They want the high profile evangelistic opportunities that make them look good and make them feel like they are winning their community for Christ.

...but on the second glance, you notice that they will not say a word to rebuke a fellow churchman who is living in sin or call on a member who has stopped attending. They will not lift a finger to catechise their own children much less the children in their congregation. They will tell you to spend hours knocking on doors, but they will not spend 30 minutes visiting the sick or the homebound. They also do not bother to get to know visitors and new members of the congregation.

Thier "heart for the lost" turns out to be little more than a "heart for the act of hunting the lost."

They'll be the first in line to take on the title of "evangelist". But the brother in Christ, the teacher, the visitor to the sick, and the greeter... well that just can't be their calling. That is just too teedious and plain.

Pietism always offers them a higher station than those humble chores.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Mike:

It sounds a little like Matt 23:15.

Lutheran Lucciola said...

I didn't realize the LCMS was trying to promote door to door stuff.

The days of that are over, I agree. It was for smaller communities and simpler times.

However, I do strongly encourage Lutherans to get out and reach people in some way other than nothing. Not in a fake, manuscripted way, but something does need to be encouraged.

FH, are there any Lutherans who go out to speak or interact with the voodoo/vodou/hoodoo in New Orleans?

Peter said...

I agree with you on door-to-door evangelism, but don't think Jesus had that particular problem in mind. Instead, I think he was warning of the temptation of leaving the house of a poor man and going to the house of a rich man, with the idea of finding the most luxurious hospitality, and thus become an offense to the poor man, and a scandal to all the people.

Sotero M Lopez II said...

You got the scripture all wrong. You cut out a sentence and missed the context of the scripture. Read the verbiage before that. He was telling them to go house to house but when you find someone interested and let's you in the remain with them and go no further.

It's like me saying "I hate women being abused."

Then you take out "I hate women" and changed the entire meaning all because you are trying to slant people's views.

Sotero M Lopez II said...

Acts 20:20 shows Paul went from door to door also following Christ lead and his command at Matt 28:19,20 and Matt 24:14

Rev. Larry Beane said...

Dear Sotero:

Yes, your point is well taken. However, I was being tongue in cheek.

I believe door-to-door evangelism is a supremely bad idea - especially in the day and age of Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons embracing such techniques (not to mention itinerant salesmen with their foot-in-the-door-at-dinnertime reputation).

Christians don't really help the cause of their Lord by becoming a nuisance the way the cults do.

We Lutherans also believe in the doctrine of predestination - though not double-predestnation the way our Reformed brothers and sisters do. We rely on the Holy Spirit to draw people to the Word according to the mighty will of God. Slick sales pitches and gimmicks (which are also a hallmark of Arminian theology) at best merely impede the work of the Holy Spirit, and at worst, turn people off of the faith.

Ditto for the folks with bullhorns on Bourbon Street and protesters at funerals.

The best way to evangelize is to do what the word "evangelize" means: to proclaim the good news. This is not done the same way that one sells vacuum cleaners.

Thanks for writing!