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Reaching your communities ... through the front door

Has door-to-door had its day? Not for London City Mission, as Jo Sutton explains ...

Has door-to-door had its day? Not for London City Mission, as JO SUTTON explains

As Christians we want to reach out to all areas of our community – across cultures and social classes, to those neighbours we don’t know, as well as the friends we do.

The challenge though, is how to engage with the community when people are hidden behind their front doors.

Knocking on doors can seem old fashioned, but for London City Mission it is a vital approach. So often psychological and social barriers prevent people from entering into a church building, but by regularly visiting people where they are, relationships can be formed and barriers brought down.

Andrew Gordon works with Donnington Evangelical Church in Brent – one of London’s most diverse boroughs. It’s a small church with a big heart for people in their community. Andrew supports the church with evangelism and encourages those in the church to work alongside him – practically and in prayer.

He is very keen on encouraging people to witness in their own way and in their own situations, resulting in a natural and authentic evangelism. As well as running events at the church, Andrew encourages members to get involved in things already happening in the community, for example, some people have started to go to a local sewing circle.

“Being friendly, prayerful and intentional in your involvement,” he explains, “is a great way of getting to know local people who aren’t believers and sharing your life and faith with them.”

Emmanuel Gill works with Good News Church Harrow, organising their outreach activities. These consist of: time for elderly men in the area to come along, play games like draughts and talk about life; for Emmanuel and volunteers from the church to knock on the doors of local homes, to get to know residents and invite them to activities at church; and running Christianity Explored and Discipleship Explored courses as well as special events throughout the year.

As people that Emmanuel meets on the doors come along to some of the activities, volunteers are able to get to know them and build a trusting relationship. Out of that, conversations of faith are had and people invited to other events – for example, a parent at the toddler group might be invited to the family night where there are games, food and a short Bible talk. This may lead to people then coming along to a Christianity Explored course, or the Sunday Service.

“It’s all about building relationships with people,” says Emmanuel, “it’s important to give time to create trusting friendships and to bring people on a journey. It’s a great encouragement to see people grow in their faith and improve their relationship with Jesus as a result.”

TOP TIPS

  • Don't worry about getting difficult questions from people. Be honest and say you hadn’t thought of that but that you will find out and come back to them. Research the question or discuss it with a mature Christian and then go back to visit that person with your answer
     
  • Don’t try to visit everyone in your town. Be realistic. Mark out an area to focus on and keep going back to those homes maybe 3-4 times a year so that people can get to know you
     
  • Initially it’s a good idea to introduce yourself and where you are from, hand out a leaflet of activities or a special event that your church is holding and invite them along. In subsequent visits you could ask the people you meet to fill in a questionnaire concentrating on community needs – for example, how many people live in the house, do they have children, is there anything they would like the church to do for them, do they believe in God etc
     
  • Not everyone in your church will get involved in going door-to-door, but encourage them to pray for the conversations, the people in a particular road and the spiritual renewal of the community. This is an essential part of the work

PHOTO: Emmanuel and Anne, a volunteer from the church, leading a Bible study

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