FIRST PERSON: Why I practice cold-call evangelism

Brandon KieslingMany of us have received a phone call from an unknown number and, upon answering, found out that a random salesperson from a different state is attempting to sell us something.

This method is called cold-call sales, which simply means that a company acquires a list of random names and phone numbers and methodically marches down the list, calling people to whom they have never spoken before and offering their product and/or services.

My question regarding this practice is, Why are so many companies still attempting this type of sales if so many people turn them down?

In the church, there is a similar approach to evangelism called cold-call evangelism in which Christians acquire a list of random names and contact information, either by mapping out the area around the church or using other strategic ways of gathering such information, and methodically going house to house, knocking on doors and sharing the Gospel.

Some Christians believe this approach has outlived its usefulness because of the lack of fruit they see while attempting to do cold-call evangelism, but I hold the conviction that cold-call evangelism is a practice that I will continue to do. Here are several reasons why:

1. It is biblical.

The book of Acts gives the account of the birth of the first-century church. The apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit and both publicly and personally proclaimed the Gospel to the world around them. One does not have to look very hard to find examples of cold-call evangelism in Acts.

Probably the most convincing argument for cold-call evangelism is found in Acts 20, where we see the apostle Paul's defense of his ministry before the Ephesian elders. He explains to them that he served with humility, even in the midst of trials (Acts 20:19), and then he describes how he did not shrink back from declaring the Gospel to both Jew and Greek "from house to house" (Acts 20:20). What was he proclaiming to them? Repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). If Paul saw the benefit of cold-call evangelism, so do I.

2. It is economical.

The church, like any other organization, has a budget to work from and must make the most out of the money it is given. Many churches send their members across the country or even around the world to do mission work, and I wholeheartedly believe this is an important and necessary task. However, many of these same churches often neglect sending them across the street. Why are we willing to spend thousands of dollars to send people to other continents when we can spend little to nothing sending them out into the community around the church? Cold-call evangelism is an opportunity to get the Gospel out to the lost that costs nothing more than the material that is handed out. Though stewardship is not the primary reason I participate in cold-call evangelism, it does help build the argument for doing this type of evangelism.

3. It is practical.

One of the major benefits of doing cold-call evangelism that many people overlook is that this practice helps Christians develop evangelistic skills that they may not build otherwise. I have been going door-to-door for more than six years now, and through this practice I have engaged people of all different backgrounds -- Mormons, Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, Buddhists and about every other major religious background.

Not only does this practice help build my own personal evangelistic skills, it also provides an opportunity for me to train other believers how to share their faith. By inviting believers to "come and see" (John 1:39) and then helping them to "go and do" likewise, I am able to effectively multiply my evangelistic efforts through other believers.

4. It is effectual.

Some believe that door-to-door evangelism is dead, and I understand why they do so. In my experience with this type of evangelism, I get turned away more than I get the opportunity to lead people to faith in Jesus Christ. However, I have also seen a number of people turn to Jesus and get folded into a local church.

Just because people turn us down doesn't mean that cold-call evangelism is dead. People turned Jesus down during His ministry as well (Luke 18:23; John 6:66). We cannot control what other people say in response to the Gospel; we can only control what we say and do when attempting to get the Gospel to people.

Is cold-call evangelism the best way to evangelize? Maybe not. Is cold-call evangelism the only way to evangelize? Absolutely not. However, cold-call evangelism is a biblical, economical, practical and effectual approach to evangelism in which I have personally seen numerous people turn to Christ.

To be clear: The church is not a business, and we should not simply treat the Gospel as a product that we offer to consumers. However, the church is the body of Christ, and the Gospel is the power of God to salvation and the greatest offer that has ever been extended to mankind. Regardless of the response, I intend to do everything possible to get the Gospel to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, as persuasively as possible.

Brandon Kiesling is an instructor of evangelism in Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions.

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