Literature Evangelism (LE) is also known as "door knocking".
The idea is that you engage in conversation, and offer that person the opportunity to buy some spiritual books (and sometimes also health books).
The money made from this directly funds the ministry, e.g. it's a self-funding ministry.
The idea behind door knocking seems quite straightforward:
- Find a house
- Go to the door
- Knock on it
But in real life there's a bit more to it of course, and getting to that "first door" can be quite daunting.
I have only recently started doing this, and I am by no means an expert, but I wanted to share what I have learned so far nonetheless.
Only a few people show up for this kind of work.
Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
- Matthew 9:37-38 (KJV)
Don't underestimate the importance of this kind of ministry. Getting spiritual books into people's homes is very important, because once there, the Holy Spirit can then point people to the scriptures.
If there is one work more important than another, it is that of getting our publications before the public, thus leading them to search the Scriptures. Missionary work introducing our publications into families, conversing, and praying with and for them is a good work and one which will educate men and women to do pastoral labor.
- Ellen White, Colporteur Ministry, p. 7
You will have the opportunity to reach people that otherwise could not have been reached.
The canvassing work, properly conducted, is missionary work of the highest order, and it is as good and successful a method as can be employed for placing before the people the important truths for this time. The importance of the work of the ministry is unmistakable; but many who are hungry for the bread of life have not the privilege of hearing the word from God's delegated preachers. For this reason it is essential that our publications be widely circulated. Thus the message will go where the living preacher cannot go, and the attention of many will be called to the important events connected with the closing scenes of this world's history.
- Ellen White, Colporteur Ministry, p. 6
What is it Like?
For an idea of what it's like, check out this YouTube video.
I love this video. It always inspires me.
Never think you are alone.
- Angels will arrange the meetings, and will accompany you.
- The Holy Spirit will teach you what to say.
- You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
You can also ask people to pray for you.
Qualification and Training
If God has called you for this, you are (almost) ready.
I knew nothing about door knocking, but after I read "Colporteur Ministry" by Ellen White I felt much better prepared. I also read a book called "Like a Mighty Army" which focuses more on the sales aspects of door knocking.
You can do a free online training course on the Move Me Lord website. You can read both books there for free, and I highly recommend you start there.
For a humorous take on door-to-door evangelism, check out this YouTube video.
- PLANT Ministry
Here are some other useful articles and videos that I've come across:
- Door knocking guide
- The complete guide to door-to-door cold knocking
- Door Knocking Guide for Beginners
Asking For the Sale
Would you like to buy this book?
In asking people, even poor people, to buy our books we are doing them the greatest favor in the world. Our colporteurs are not salesmen merely; they are messengers sent of God with a Message in these volumes more precious than gold or silver. We need not be backward about urging the Message for this day upon the people. It is the greatest thing in the world.
- W. A. Spicer, President General Conference, Washington, D. C.
Joining an Existing Organization (Or Not)
Normally speaking I think it would be better to join an existing organization, mainly because of the training, and the support from other like minded people.
For an idea of what is involved, please see below:
- Do online course
- Approval from your pastor
- Approval from the conference president
- Create an account with a book publishing company (for discounts, etc)
- Memorize the canvass
- Training (on the doors)
- And away you go
- Monthly meetings with other LEs
The problem for me is the memorizing of the canvass. My memory is terrible, so for me to memorize 2-3 paragraphs of text for books that I've never read was just very hard. I was really keen to get started, so for me to delay that with 2 months just so I could read the unknown books just didn't feel right. I really wanted to try door knocking out first before going all the way.
In the end, I wanted to choose my own books. Books that I was familiar with, and could wholeheartedly recommend. For an idea of what books I have chosen, please click here.
The downside of going at it alone, is that there is no real training, no support, and you have to figure everything out yourself.
Not impossible, but if you're just starting out it probably is easier to join an existing organization.
There is some prep work to be done when you go door knocking (script, book selection, etc), but in all honesty that's not the hardest part.
The hardest part is getting into the right mindset for it, e.g. how to overcome fear, rejection, etc.
That requires a bit of soul searching.
Asking the Tough Questions
Your brain is basically an insanely smart super computer. If you ask it questions, it will give you ideas.
We have to be careful what questions we ask. For example, we might ask "Why do I stink at this?" instead of a more empowering question such as "How can I have more fun with this?".
Normally there might be 3-4 ideas for a question, but when you write them down your brain just keeps going, and the ideas just keep getting better and better. This is called brainstorming.
Brainstorming is really simple. Just write down your question in the middle of a bit of paper, and write down everything that comes to mind.
Whenever I get stuck I just start asking the tough questions.
Here are some of the questions that I have asked myself prior to going door knocking:
- What am I trying to achieve?
- How will this be fun and fulfilling?
- I'm sick of ...
- Why is this a MUST for you?
- What are you thankful for?
- What would it feel like to have done this?
- What's the worst thing that can happen?
- What good will come from this?
- What would it take to get you of your ass?
These questions help to find clarity, and motivation.
Here are some of the (surprising) things that I learned:
- Putting literature in people's homes is a good thing.
- Learn how to handle disappointment.
- Reach out to the broken hearted.
- They will welcome me.
- Reach the one person that prayed for help.
- Fun, and fulfilling.
- It must be done.
- God will be with me.
- Treats and rewards.
- Exponential growth.
- I'm sick of the excuses, giving up, not living up to my full potential, not doing my part, disappointing myself, others, and God.
- I want to feel alive.
- I want to do what I was created for.
- Continue when others quit.
- I need to know what I'm capable of.
- Bragging rights.
- Write, and teach others.
- Overcome my shyness.
- Glorify God.
Brainstorming "what you are sick of" is a very powerful way to get motivated. I highly recommend doing that one.
You need to get clear as to why you are doing this. Says Tony Robbins. So there.
Here is a video about overcoming fear.
- Bryan Casella
One thing that I have learned is that whatever you think it's going to be like, it's completely different from real life. It's nowhere near as bad as you think.
Fear can also help in preparing yourself, e.g. "a fear of what to say" may lead to creating a script, etc.
Here is a motivational video called "Just do it". (You may need to lower the volume a bit)
- Shia LaBeouf
Yes I know. A bit much maybe. But I loved it nonetheless.
Just do it!
Consider the following statement from Jia Jiang:
- Rejection is a muscle. If you don't constantly work outside your comfort zone, you'll lose it and you'll become weak and timid.
- Rejection is a numbers game. Fight through enough no's and you will eventually find a yes.
- Avoiding rejection is worse than receiving it. Most people believe avoiding rejection is a good thing, by avoiding something bad we've dodged a bullet and we are somehow net positive, but that's not true. When we shy away from rejection we reject ourselves and our ideas before the world ever has a chance to reject them. This is the worst form of rejection and as a result, we are ignored by the world.
He decided to just have fun with rejection.
Eventually you will run into some obstacles. Keep going.
Going in one more round when you don't think you can, that's what makes all the difference in your life.
- Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone)
If you like personal development, you will love door knocking.
It's exponential growth.
Good for overcoming shyness.
That First Door
I felt called, prepared, and able, but even then I was still not able to get myself to knock on that first door. I was paralysed.
Then God helped me out, and together we knocked on that first door. Nobody home! Second door. Nobody home!
Then I chickened out, dropped of my business cards for the rest of the street, and went home.
But you know what. It doesn't matter. I have knocked on that first door, and I now realize that it wasn't as scary as I first thought it would be. That's a powerful lesson right there.
The second time was much easier, and I interacted with some people. When I say "interacted" I mean I got the standard "not interested" reply.
Other literature evangelists have confirmed that it indeed gets easier over time, and that door knocking is a great way to overcome shyness.
If you are worried about what to say, please invest some time in creating a script. I highly recommend this.
A script is essentially a skeleton for how things will go, e.g. introduce yourself, what to do in case of a yes, what to do in case of a no, etc.
My understanding is that over time, you will need the script less and less.
When you introduce yourself you will need to cover the following:
- Who you are
- Where you are from (optional)
- Why you are there
- When you will leave
So here's my script:
My name is Jarno. I sell Christian books door to door. I won't be long.
Are you a Christian at all?
Do you perhaps have any questions about God, and the Bible?
Would you perhaps be interested in buying a book called Steps to Christ that will help you find God?
Would you perhaps be interested in a book called The Great Controversy which talks about what happened to the gospel in the last 2,000 years, and also what the mark of the beast is?
Would you perhaps be interested in a book called The Desire of Ages which talks about what Jesus' life in great detail?
Would you like me to pray for you?
Can I leave my card with you in case you get stuck?
You have a great day.
The script is not set in stone. Feel free to change it at any time.
I firmly believe that it is the Holy Spirit who will teach you what to say when it comes to the actual conversation, so don't worry about that part.
My strategy is actually really simple at the moment. I open with a health book, and then I try and give away a free Steps to Christ.
I carry the following books:
- Steps to Christ
- The Power of Hope
- The Great Controversy
- The Desire of Ages
If no one is home I just leave a tract in the door (or in the mailbox).
My business card is inside the tract. My business card is basically just an invitation to come and check out my website. On the website I just link to some really good books (but I don't sell anything). You can also use the contact page for prayer requests, Bible studies, questions, etc.
I leave everything else up to the Holy Spirit.
God's Purpose for You
Here is an excellent metaphor that may help you.
God once told a man to "push the rock". The rock in question here was enormous. Too big for any man to push, but the man tries, and tries, and then after 20 minutes gives up, and tells God it's too hard.
God then says "push the rock". So the man tries again, and again, etc.
Finally after doing this several times over a number of days, the man sits on the ground, and says to God, I can't move this rock, it's way too big.
Then God says, I didn't ask you to "move the rock", I asked you to "push the rock".
Now you have strength (from pushing the rock), and I can finally use you for other things.
So even if doorknocking seems to big an obstacle, go out anyway. Push the rock.
Sooner or later people will come to you!! We just need to be prepared.
And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.
- John 21:6 (KJV)
God has His reasons for doing things in this way. His ways are not our ways. Trust God.
This was a hard lesson for me to learn.
When you knock on the door, take a step back, and take a deep breath. It's good to leave a bit of distance between you and the person opening the door.
Don't worry about what people may or may not think of you. You are not a mind reader, and you are most likely wrong anyway.
Even if someone slams the door, I still believe that that person goes back inside thinking of God. Mission accomplished.
No need to say "sorry to bother you". People may well have been waiting for you.
Pray for courage (and all other things). Always be humble. Try and relax. Have some fun with it.
Practice your script (while walking through the neighborhood). Carry tracts. Have some change in your wallet. Dress smart.
Aim for about 10 hours per week (2-3 hours per day).
Time is short, and this work is important.
It must be done!
Door knocking can be a lonely thing, and I think it's vital that you find other people that can help you (and vice versa of course).
On that note, I would like to say a big "thank you" to the following people:
You are my heroes! Thank you for supporting me.
Being able to ask questions of people that have already done what you're trying to do, is invaluable.
If God has called you for this, He will not set you up to fail. Think about that as you go out.
I can't help but quote the following verse:
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
- Revelation 3:20 (KJV)
Go with God, and may peace be with you.
Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
- John 20:21 (KJV)