I have spent the last couple of weeks struggling with myself. I have been struggling because I have desperately wanted to write about my experience on my first door knocking campaign with the Northwest church in Lawton, Ok where I currently serve. It has been a struggle mainly because I literally could not think of where to begin. There are too many things to mention that I undoubtedly will leave out something. So, this is in no way a detailed recap of our campaign, I merely want to highlight just a few things that really stood out to me.
1. The campaign could not happen with just a few being involved.
The story goes that there was a minister at a congregation who decided to organize a one day door knocking. It wasn’t going to be anything complicated or fancy. This minister saw in his mind’s eye the church meeting together on Saturday morning, passing out flyers, leading a prayer, and off they would go. They would knock as many doors as they could that day inviting their neighbors to come to Bible class and worship. After months of pushing this day in the announcements, it finally came. That morning this young minister and his family went to the church building… Alone. Sunday morning one of the elders approached this young minister and said “How did the door knocking go? I couldn’t make it, I was at the lake with family.” Crushed, this young man began to weep internally, feeling nothing but disappointment, and depression.
This story is far too real, this is my story.
Fast forward to present day and I still am in awe of the percentage of the membership at Northwest who are genuinely concerned for lost souls. I would like to point out that this year marked 38 years in a row that Northwest has done these “Back to the Bible Campaigns.” I make this point to assure you, that I have nothing to do with the success of this great work. I am simply blessed to be surrounded by such great people! We are a congregation that before the campaign averaged around 230 in attendance on Sunday morning. From our number we had enough volunteers to:
- Provide babysitting for our members who were knocking doors as well as those prospects that we were studying with.
- Keep our building clean, functioning, and presentable at all times.
- Meals were provided twice a day for well over 100 people.
- Song leaders, prayer leaders, and speakers for daily devotionals.
- Worship leaders for our Gospel meeting Coordinators in the offices
- Drivers who were getting people where they needed to be. Including our out of town helpers we also had 95 members knocking doors
- We knocked on roughly 12,000 houses.
It is absolutely impossible to achieve any of this if it were not for so many people who are actively involved in planning, preparation, and the the “boots on the ground” work of the campaign. The most incredible aspect of this (to me) is that the vast majority of our members have been trained with a method to teach the gospel. I have been part of 5 congregations in my lifetime, and I have never witnessed anything like what I have seen out of the Northwest people. Are they perfect? Obviously not.However, the desire they have for reaching the lost, and the time, money, and work that they put in to accomplishing this task is unparalleled by anything I have witnessed. They push me to do better, and make me realize how little I have been doing.
2. The Word of God still stirs the soul
- Satan will try his best to tell you…
- No one is interested in truth today.
- No one cares about God anymore.
- The church is declining in numbers, don’t know that it will ever be the same.
- People only care about entertainment
- People are just “too busy” to study the Bible.
Satan lies (John 8:44)
I have heard (and made) some of these statements for most of my life. I would submit that most who would make these statements (including myself) have never devoted themselves to the work of evangelism in a very real sense. I don’t remember all of our exact “numbers” but we were able to set up well over 200 Bible studies. Many of those did not actually take place as the student changed their minds. Out of the studies that were taught 28 precious souls decided to put their savior on in baptism and have their sins washed away. 4 more souls who had been baptized for the remission of their sins but were not faithful to the Lord’s church have been restored.This is just the result of the Northwest campaign, the other congregations in this area also participated and set up numerous studies, and had several more baptisms.
It is very important to note that each of our new brothers and sisters made the commitment and decision to be baptized into Christ on their own after a thorough study of the scriptures. Each one looked at traditions of men vs. the Word of God, plan of salvation, unity, oneness of the church, worship, Christian living, and many other important elements. No one was “artificially converted.” Each new brother and sister spent several hours just looking at an open Bible, no other material, just the Bible.
3. Fields are white for the harvest.
In John 4 Jesus had a tall task in front of Him. He was trying to get His disciples to stop focusing on the physical things that are right in front of them (glad we don’t struggle with this today) He began talking to them about the harvest. They still had months until the harvest was ready, but he was asking them to recognize that the fields of peoples minds and hearts were already white for the harvest.
I would submit that the same is true even today in 2013. Most door knocking campaigns I have participated in before were about handing out literature and inviting someone to worship. There was something very different about the way that the Northwest church operated. We conduct a Gospel meeting at the same time as our campaign so that it makes a nice “conversation starter.” However, our goal is not to get them to come to the gospel meeting. We don’t leave the door without asking one simple question, “Would you be willing to study the Bible with me?”
Did I encounter some people who were dismissive, rude, and mad that I was there? Yes. However, the majority of those I encountered were at least polite, and appreciative of what we were doing whether they were interested or not. I cannot tell you how many people were excited at the thought of studying JUST the Bible. No creeds, handbooks, or other man made documents. The first day of door knocking I knocked on an apartment, and a man answered the door. As he answered he had a scowl on his face, he was done with me before I opened my mouth. He snatched the brochure and slammed the door. As I was walking away, a woman came out of the apartment, she told me she was his wife. She said “My husband is not interested in the Bible at this time, but I really am. Unfortunately I don’t even own a Bible, is there anyway you could provide me a Bible and study with me?” So I told her no… JUST KIDDING! I told her we would LOVE to do that for her.
It reminded me that I have no place to determine who is “worthy of my time” to try to study with. The natural thought that came to my mind after the slammed door was “No one in this house would ever listen.” Obviously, I was wrong.
4. I am a man of little faith
I have spent most of my young life buying into Satan’s lies, at least partially. I found myself depressed numerous times as I looked at the church and wasn’t seeing people being converted. I was seeing people fall away. I would watch as the congregation as a whole would feel a huge sense of accomplishment when a child who has been at nearly every service since their birth decides to obey the gospel. This is a wonderful day! No question about it! However, when our ONLY baptisms, and our ONLY “outreach” is sharing the gospel with our own children,this is a recipie for a short lived church.
Then as I think to myself and ask what I personally was doing to reverse the trend of a non-evangelistic church, I was forced to do some serious praying. Praying for forgiveness. I was every bit as guilty as any other Christian. Words cannot describe how beautiful it is to witness 32 precious souls coming to Northwest God’s way in a weeks time. 32 people who answered their door, heard that phrase “Bible study” said yes, after thorough study of the Word they understood what God expected of them, and now they are my brothers and sisters.
1 Corinthians 3:6 comes to mind upon reflecting on this campaign. The Northwest church is a great example to many, and are the hardest working people I have ever met. However, we do not deserve the glory for any success, we understand all glory goes to our Father. It is His plan that saves. It is His Son who gave His life for us. It is His grace that afford us the opportunity for salvation. It is His Word that gives us the knowledge we need to understand His plan. God deserves all glory for this or any other “success” the church experiences around the world. Having a front row seat for the campaign this year has reminded me that God is in control, God’s plan still works, God still blesses His people, it is time for me to increase in my faith. We also understand that our work is not done. Really, the hardest part is now beginning. It is up to us to do everything we can to integrate our new members into the work and life of the church. We know Satan will pull on them and try to make them second guess their commitment. We have several classes/ programs and groups in place to assist in this area. While we understand that nothing we “devise” will be perfect. The most important thing is to ground them in the truth of God’s Word. Let us all go “Back to the Bible” together!