I really believe this was done with the best of intentions. I also believe that it used to work. Throughout the 1960s through the 1980s Christians would meet in church buildings around 7 P.M. on Mondays, Tuesdays or Thursdays. They would be given a list of names and then, in groups of two or three, they would dutifully go to those homes one by one.
Yes, often they found people watching television, eating dinner or just spending time with their families. Back then, people didn’t seem to mind a visit by people from church. In fact, some of them really appreciated it. Now and then you would find one who seemed bothered or “put out” that these “church people” would intrude on our time with our families. But for the most part, the visits were pleasant and often resulted in people obeying the gospel or souls returning to the fold.
Something changed in the nineties. Americans became busier, and family time became shorter. Also, crime increased to the point that most families had at least one member who has been a victim. Home invasions were talked about on the news. Rapes, robberies, and murders increased. People became more and more suspicious of strangers arriving at their doors. In fact, entire towns passed ordinances against door to door campaigns of any type.
Ceasing to evangelize is not an option with New Testament Christians. We “cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard.” We must evangelize, because of the commission given by our Lord (Mark 16:15-16 and Matthew 28:18-20). Therefore, as the church has done for 2000 years, we must adjust our methods of evangelism so that they will be more effective in the times in which we now live.
In Acts chapters 7 & 8, we read about severe persecution in the church at Jerusalem. “Church people” were not welcome and were being murdered for preaching about Jesus.
What they did though, can serve as an example for us in the increasingly hostile, anti-Christian, environment of our world. Simply stated in Acts 8:4 “Those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” The same idea is expressed in Matthew 28:19, “Go, therefore and make disciples of all the nations…”
There it is! The answer to our problem of people not wanting to be bothered with “church people” intruding on their family time. In order to meet the requirements of the great commission without causing hard feelings about the church, why don’t we all begin to practice “as you go” evangelism? Why don’t we “preach the word everywhere we go”?
Think about the places we go on an average day. We go to restaurants, grocery stores, Senior Citizens Centers, to lunch with friends or family, to the nursing home or the hospital to visit. Even those who stay at home are not completely isolated. People are coming into our homes on a regular basis.
In the words of the apostle Paul, “No man lives or dies unto himself.” Since this is the case, is it not possible to “preach the word” as we go through our daily lives? Does it not make as much, if not more sense to “evangelize as you go?” It seems far more relevant than the age-old adage “go and evangelize.”
It is my prayer, that the rest of this year and the next will be the year that we start practicing “as you go” evangelism. It will work if we give it a chance. It worked for the first-century church, and it will work for the 21st-century church as well!