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Knocking on doors sparks attendance, yields baptisms
Photo by Robin Cornetet
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) -- A Louisville pastor has busted the longstanding myth in the church world that door-to-door visitation is out of vogue and no longer effective.
Mark Bishop has knocked on about 200 doors a week since he arrived six months ago at Highview Baptist Church – Valley Station Campus. In that time, the campus pastor has seen attendance triple to nearly 300 and baptized 37 new believers.
"In this electronic age, people are shocked that I would take the time to stop by their house to talk to them in person," said Bishop, a strong advocate for so-called front porch evangelism.
Bishop is encouraging his ministry staff to make the rounds, too, going to local neighborhoods, apartment complexes and mobile home parks and talking to anyone who will listen. Answer or no, each location gets a small card with Highview Valley Station's address, worship times and a concise account of the Gospel.
With the help of members spending their Sunday evenings going door to door, Bishop said the church has stood on more than 5,000 welcome mats -- even in the rare instance when they weren't all that welcome.
"I think soul winning is easier caught than taught," Bishop said, referring to the newfound evangelical fervor at the church. "When they see it working it becomes contagious."
Knocking on doors also has had an impact on friends of new believers who, after seeing a change in their acquaintances, are crossing a church threshold for the first time in their lives.
"Mark lives with Gospel passion and intentionality," Highview senior pastor Aaron Harvie said. "His love of Jesus and people is infectious."
Bishop isn't new to knocking on doors. As a teenaged preacher's kid in Arkansas, he would ring doorbells on Saturday asking children if they wanted to go to his dad's church.
"I would look for bicycles in the yard, anything that told me a kid lived there and then I'd pick them up on Sunday morning in the church bus," Bishop said. "Sometimes I'd bring 70 or 80 kids to church. I'd have to make two trips."
The youngest of three brothers to follow their father into ministry, Bishop said evangelism was a normal part of family life along with family devotions and Scripture memorization.
Even when he went to serve in the Army, Bishop couldn't deny the pull to preach and ended up becoming a chaplain with a flock of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. His knock-on-doors routine on the military base resulted in 300 soldiers accepting Christ during one deployment.
"There is nothing better than one-on-one contact when sharing Jesus," said Paul Chitwood, the Kentucky Baptist Convention's executive director. "While I am a firm believer in mass evangelism and pulpit evangelism, both will almost always involve one-on-one evangelism."
Chitwood said plans are underway for a similar evangelistic outreach for this year's Kentucky Baptist Convention annual meeting in Louisville. Crossover Louisville will involve a massive door-to-door campaign with members of KBC churches across the state coming into the city days in advance of the Nov. 14 meeting to share the Gospel.
The event is a partnership between the Louisville Regional Baptist Association, Highview's Valley Station Campus and the evangelism team of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
"Every Christian isn't called to preach to the masses," Chitwood said, "but every Christian is called to share Jesus at every opportunity."
Even if that means leaving a Gospel invitation behind at Dairy Queen. Bishop said that's how one Georgia transplant found her way to Highview Valley Station and now is a member.
"I have found it is not a strategy, or a training seminar, or anything else that makes someone successful. It's a passion for the lost," Bishop said. "It's the Gospel that works."