Cold Call Evangelism

I’m trying to think if there is a scriptural reference to cold call evangelism.

A “Cold Call” is a term used in sales when you go up to someone or call them and offer (try hard to sell) your product.  You don’t know them AND they have expressed NO interest in buying your product.

To my knowledge every conversion in the Bible happened 3 ways:

  1. the convert had a relationship with someone already
  2. the convert had an interest in conversion or was at least curious and then went to a Christian
  3. God supernaturally  intervenes (Saul to Paul conversion)

I’m trying to remember a time when Jesus or other follower went up to someone who they did not know and one that expressed no interest and that person was converted.  Jesus dealt primarily with Jews who already had a knowledge and interest in Jehovah.  The apostles in Acts dealt with Jews and Gentiles, however, I don’t recall cold calls.

I understand that we should all be led of God and allow Him to order our steps each day.  If we come across someone during our daily activity that seems ready for the gospel then we should be equipped and ready to lead them to Jesus (whether he or she is a stranger or not).

However, I have a problem with pressuring believers into systematically going up to strangers with tracks and  asking them if they are saved (or other invasive question).   I know that ‘Way of the Master’ has a method of questioning people and logically cornering them.  After watching their ‘on-the-street’ interviews, I see about half of the people as ‘backsliders’ and they are convicted by the questions.  I see the remainders as mostly agnostics or atheists that don’t care.  Maybe I have not watched it enough.  However, even if most listen and agree with the discussion, how effective is the talk?  I don’t see repentance as a one time prayer or even a prayer at all.  Repentance is our lifestyle turning.  Prayer is involved in that process and repentance can not happen without prayer, but it is simply not only the prayer.  There must be some follow through.  In order for conversion to happen the life must change.

It is quite possible that cold calls are necessary for some seeds to be sown.  On the other hand, how many people are turned off by a religion that only wants to debate on a street corner.  If you don’t understand that, then why do you cringe when you see Jehovah Witnesses coming to your door…

The burden for the lost is one that we all must carry.  But, how do we carry that weight and allow ourselves to be used of God through the gifts He has given us?

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

As Christians, we will have a burden.  We can not escape that or deny that.  There will always be something that God allows to pull us or turn us to Him.  That burden is directly tied to the commission of Matthew 28.  We have a burden for souls to be saved and that burden must be fulfilled through the gifts and talents God has given us.  That will be lived out differently in each person because we are all so unique.

Let me finish by saying that I respect folks like Kirk that can start up conversations with people they don’t know AND talk about topics that are deeply personal and eternal.  I simply want to equip everyone with the tools to be effective within the gift parameters that God has given them.  No matter what gifts we have, I believe will ask us to go beyond our comfort zone.

San Marcos Police officers are not given quotas for tickets.  However, they are given a goal of connect points per day.  Their chief asks that they connect with 5-7 people in the community every day.  Those connections don’t have to be tickets or warnings.  They can be.  But, they could also be helping someone across the street or talking to someone in a restaurant.

I believe that some of us reclusive type people need to set some sort of connection goals with people in the community.  This will get us out of the safety of our “lonerness” and get us out into the field of harvest.  We will be more cognizant of souls and be ready to reap when the time comes.

Your thoughts??

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About pastorrobin

Hello. I pastor PromiseLand Church in San Marcos, TX. I am married to Erica, and we have 3 kids: Kennady, Jude, and Avery. All little ones! Visit our church site at www.psmchurch.com

Posted on January 27, 2011, in Church Business, Daily Word and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Our responsibility, equivalent to that given to the apostles, is to preach the gospel and to make disciples. How one outworks such a command is, of course, the question. I think “marketing” to the unsaved is a dangerous line to walk, because the purpose of the church is to teach sound doctrine, and to continue to equip believers—not to keep them on a steady diet of milk.

    Our influence should dictate our evangelism. If we have business colleagues because of where we work and what we do, those are the people with whom we share the gospel. If we have moms that we see in a moms’ group, those are the people with whom we share the gospel.

    I think those of us who are reclusive (myself included!) are responsible for finding a medium to honor the command given to us. It is a command, and thus mandatory of a Christian, so to ignore it for reasons of “an introspective personality” is to disobey God.

    Setting goals is an awesome step. What they are—that’s another story. I think praying for the wisdom to know when, where, and to whom to preach the gospel is paramount. We also, as reclusive intellectuals, need to bear in mind that ALL unbelievers look at the gospel as pure foolishness and GET OVER the fear of being laughed at when we share it. We will be laughed at, challenged, ridiculed, spat at (verbally or literally) and the like. If we are NOT being challenged in our delivery of the gospel to unbelievers, we may want to examine what we’re delivering—the bible is clear that it will be foolish and offensive.

    As for forcing someone into a corner to hear what we have to say? I don’t think this is wisdom at all. This—to me—borders on casting pearls before swine. GOD is the one who draws people to Himself—not us. So if they’re looking to escape the conversation or to shut it down, we should be cautious not to waste our time (don’t be a pushover, either—this takes wisdom). Honestly, in my understanding of theology, if the person is going to be saved—well, they’re going to be saved. We can’t “mess it up” just because we don’t get them cornered or force a tract into their hand and “clockwork orange” them into reading it.

    I like the idea of connection points. Since my wife and I are moving to a new area, we will need to have “connection goals” just so we can start to learn the new community, find new friends, and determine what sort of groups/activities in which we would like to participate in our new home. It is imperative that we actually put our foot out there and get some face-time with individuals, or we are the only ones to blame for having no social life. The same applies to sharing the gospel.

    Some final thoughts:

    1. I don’t believe in “faking” a person into hearing the gospel (e.g., inviting them to a social dinner, and premeditating to slip it in). If it comes up, it comes up. If not, don’t force it. That said, my life needs to be lived out so that it is, in one way or another, evident that I am a Christian. If the topic doesn’t come up because the person in question never even imagined I was a Christian—well, I might want to examine my lifestyle.

    2. I firmly believe that conversion occurs (or does not occur) *in spite* of us. God *chooses* to use us to be his gospel’s vehicle. If we choose to obey, we will have the privilege of participating. If not—our loss. But He’s still sovereign and he’ll still “get his man” so to speak.

    3. Spurgeon says, “If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies…” I like this because it shows the passion he had for unbelievers. But you’ll also note that he was not handing out tracts on his off-time. He worked within his gifts and influence to accomplish this.

    Thanks for letting me share!
    Frank

  2. OK, I’m seriously paraphasing here. “Go into the highways and byways and bring in the guests to the bridal party” I would see this in the sense of a “cold call evangelism” While I may be taking it slightly out of context the servants were still going up to people they didn’t know and compelling them come into something they had no plans of previously attending. That particular scripture came to mind when I read your entry.

  3. I whole heartedly concur. If cold call evangelism is the model then we need to set up call centers at our Church and call people during dinner.

  4. a big amen to this!!! let’s do it the way Jesus did it…

    another pet peeve of mine personally, is when folks try to capitalize spiritually at a social gathering (wedding, birthday, etc…). wrote a post about it on my blog entitled, “Jesus Celebrated With Others”.

    I’m pretty sure the way a lot of us have been approaching evangelism is both ineffective & unscriptural.

    great post/topic!!!!

  5. Thank you all for comments. I knew I could count on FRANK coming strong!! Laura brings up a good point. The scripture above the one she mentions says that the people we are to bring should be “the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.”
    Maybe this opens up a whole new discussion, but how does that text shape our ‘target market’. Is it figurative or literal or both?

  6. @Robin –

    In reference to the scripture mentioned by Laura (see Luke 14:12-24 in its entirety)…

    The context of the Scripture shows the dichotomy of those who are well-off relationally, socially and financially in opposition to those that are the lonely, outcast of society, and poor being invited to a banquet instead.

    I think Jesus’ point in this is that we should not be putting the business of every day life before seeking His kingdom. He then demands of his servants to FILL the banquet hall with ANYONE else besides those who have neglected the kingdom of God so that the original invitees would NOT BE ABLE to enter.

    It’s actually quite a scary passage for those of us that tend to put our primary focus on things like our business, hobbies, etc., BEFORE seeking God.

    Jesus confirms this in other teachings (see Luke 8:19–21; Luke 9:23–24, Luke 9:59–62; Luke 10:41–42; Luke 12:31; Luke 14:26–27).

    That said, I don’t think it defines a target market at all, nor should it. Christ crucified is a gospel for all men to hear and some men to accept, though many will not.

    Creating a target market is dangerous because, by the very definition of “target market”, plan to exclude certain groups actively or passively. Ideally, the only time you can really have a “target market” is when you notice a specific group of people *lacking* in your church. For instance, if you look at your congregation and see mainly poor folks, middle-class folks, and few upper-middle or upper-class, you may want to investigate how best to evangelize the rich. If you see only rich folk, you may want to find out how to evangelize the poor. The same goes across races and language barriers (when possible).

    That’s my biblical perspective. 😛

    Here’s a personal perspective…

    I’m personally not fond of people calling me at dinner time no matter what the reason. I have even been known to ignore calls from my own parents during dinner just to limit my stress level. I am also not a person to be trifled with on the phone for whatever reason unless it is of great import or social value (i.e., telemarketers are the bane of my existence). So I’m not fan of this literal (cold call) idea for personal reasons.

    If, however, you have people who are specifically tasked to speak with visitors who came to church of their own volition and filled out a visitor card, I think that is more effective (and, frankly, is considered a warm or hot lead rather than a cold call). I did this previously at a different church and it was interesting to hear people’s places in life and find a way to apply the gospel to the conversation since it was a conversation about church and God anyway.

    Sorry to ramble. I love this stuff. 🙂

  7. Personally, I do not believe we are called to change the world; instead we are called to change our world. Frank’s point is well taken in that our sphere of influence is our family, friends, co-workers, and to a lesser degree, our acquaintances. If our life is an open book, or as the Apostle Paul referred to in 2nd Cor, “an epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men”, then a cold call is not necessary. Instead people see our lives and know about Jesus simply because they see Him in us. If the way I live my life, the way I dress or the way I talk does not reflect Jesus within me, I have already failed before I even say a word.

    On the other hand, if my Self is dead and He possess my mind, heart, soul, and body, Jesus will walk this earth in me and the people around me will read that story. He will draw the hungry and He will give me wisdom to say the words needing to be said. We can trust God for everything, even evangelism. All we have to do is die and surrender totally to Him.

  8. It seems to me that the woman at the well (John 4) was a cold call. It is clear she was not interested in living water but physical water. Yet, without forcing the gospel on her, Jesus continued on talking to her as long as she responded. I would like to know and understand any principles we can take from the way Jesus started this conversation. So that I can properly cold call as Jesus did, yet back off and stop whenever the person is unwilling to continue the exchange, so that it is not forced on them. I would appreciate your ideas on this. Thank you.

  9. Thanks for the comment, WM. Good thinking there. It sounds like from scripture that this was a complete stranger that Jesus talked through salvation.

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