Seeds of Various Growths. Weeds Coming Up.
The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
Matthew 13:20-22 (NIV)
Let’s think about door-to-door evangelism.
I participated in a number of “mission’s trips” as both a student and a leader, and whenever it came to evangelism, my gut always turned over. It made something that had been so meaningful to me – a passionate love and adoration for Jesus – into a sports game of sorts. How many people could we “save?” This was merely how I intellectualized it, not necessarily how it was meant to come across. Some people were just so excited about their faith that they needed to share it with others. It seemed like they carried an existential anxiety – that if they didn’t manage to get as many people as possible to convert, then God would view them as utter failures.
Door-to-door evangelism is just so impersonal. “Hello, let us in so we can tell you what you’re missing in your life.” It’s based around this idea of hoping to reach someone who just happens to be on your wavelength – catching someone who happens to be feeling lost. For every one meaningful conversation, there are tens of polite aversions or doors slammed in your face. And these failures are just assumed to be from “the evil world” – people who were unwilling to hear the good news and “had their chance.”
I wouldn’t do it.
I almost got fired for not doing it. I led a mission’s trip to the inner city with some young 9th graders. We did a Vacation Bible School and painted some walls. We cleaned up some of the streets around a church and spent the nights playing intense games of manhunt. But then, also, we had to go door-to-door, preaching the good news. My supervisor heard my discomforts over it, claiming that this type of evangelism wasn’t even “one of the top ten methods” available, but still maintained its importance. I didn’t see it.
But I did do it.
It all stemmed from a parable Jesus told about the seeds and the sower. A sower lays down seeds onto various surfaces. Some fall on the path and are gobbled by birds. Some land in rocks and grow, but then are snuffed out. Others get caught in thorns. And then there are the ones that hit good soil and bloom healthily. This is all meant to be a metaphor for individuals who hear of God. Some immediately disregard, while others take it in. The second example got me though – those that hear it and grow, but are soon snuffed out.
And that was how Bob Lenz’s sermon with his special needs sister and door-to-door evangelism felt. Let’s emotionally manipulate some people in a single moment, without any context or relationship. Let’s get as many immature seedlings as possible, planted among rocks, so they’ll get chocked as quickly as possible.
Relationship. Since when has anything effective been communicated without that human-to-human level. And how can that possibly be done knocking on someone’s door or guilting them into adopting a youngster?
I don’t think it can be.