by Daniel Courington
I am going to admittedly start by violating my greatest pet peeve of speaking and writing. That pet peeve is to never apologize to your audience before you have done anything. I think that this time, it is important for me to violate that rule. I am not writing this article as an expert, but rather as someone who has been fortunate enough to follow in some huge footsteps that paved roads so wide that even I could not steer off them. Jerry Jenkins, Bill Brown, Leroy Owens, and others created campaign programs that work. The programs worked when they started some 45 years ago, and they still work today. These programs work because they are focused on simple Bible truths and practical wisdom. They work locally, they work nationally, and they work globally. This summer, the youth program from Roebuck Parkway will conduct its 43rd annual youth campaign. We will be working with four other congregations in an effort that will put over 120 people on the streets of Augusta, GA for five days. We will be knocking on doors, working in the community, and invigorating a congregation of God’s people to serve more effectively.
What is involved in a campaign?
Every campaign is different, and flexibility is mandatory. Different congregations have different needs, desires, and capabilities. We sit down with the leadership of congregations we serve and ask them about their vision of what an ideal campaign would be like. We share our vision and work diligently to blend those visions. I will not detail everything we do but will hit the high points. I will also discredit a few common myths about campaigning. These are basic principles we use in our local, stateside, and Belize campaigns.
- We make campaigning successful. We try our best to ensure our campaigns place people where they can see progress and success. Roebuck Parkway provides training for campaigners and teaches methods to build relationships with those they meet at the door. We challenge door-knockers to set up in-home Bible studies, mail correspondence studies, gather simple prayer requests and deliver information about the work of the local Church. We find these multiple tiers allow people to make small investments (e.g. prayer requests) in what we are doing even if they are not ready to make a larger investment (e.g. an in-home Bible study). We have sometimes found that allowing people to make small investments may encourage them to make a larger investment later.
- We make campaigning inexpensive on campaigners. The Roebuck Parkway congregation covers a large portion of the costs that would normally fall on families. Aiding in the expense allows those who may not be financially stable to also make an impact. All campaigns, stateside and foreign, are a large priority in our budget process. Campaigning is not cheap. Our ten-day youth campaign accounts for approximately one- third of the youth program’s yearly funds. If this type of funding seems too much, consider having a “Mission Sunday” or a “Campaign Sunday” that emphasizes the mission works of your congregation. Allow all money given this day to go to support the work of spreading the gospel. Often, those who cannot be the feet on the ground are the most generous in supporting the work of those who can.
- We make campaigning fun. We challenge campaigners to work hard and give them reward time at the end of the week. We have found, regardless of age, that a time to unwind together in fellowship is important. We strive to make fun competitions during door knocking time. For example, a competition between each bus to sign up the most Bible studies could result in allowing the winning bus to eat lunch first. The rewards are simple, but they drive teenagers to be more effective and conscientious of what they’re doing.
Myths about Campaigns:
Myth: Door knocking is no longer an effective way to spread the Gospel.
Truth: Bad door knocking was never an effective way to spread the Gospel. If you go on campaigns that involve knocking on doors, do you offer a training program to teach people how effectively build relationships with those they meet? I am reminded of the old Einstein quote, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” We challenge our campaigners to find avenues to start conversations with those they meet while door knocking. We’ve discovered that people enjoy talking about their family, their occupation, their pets, and their landscaping among other things. We challenge campaigners to find a topic that has meaning to those behind the door and spark a conversation with them.
Myth: I do not have enough people to conduct an effective campaign.
Truth: You may not have 150 people to work with, but some campaigns can be more effective with a small group of people. Roebuck Parkway takes a group of 15-20 mostly retired adults each year to a small congregation for a campaign. There are congregations that could not handle the logistics of our youth campaign. Always remember that growth is purposeful. Never refuse to take on the project of reaching out to your community simply because you feel outnumbered.
Myth: We should just do our outreach through other avenues.
Truth: Outreach can be done in various ways, but campaigns reach people that you may not reach otherwise. Friend-to-friend evangelism is the most effective means of communicating the Gospel, but there are many people in this world that have no direct connection to Christ’s Church. Campaigning creates a solution to those without a direct connection to the Church. Get out and find a way to start a campaign today!
You may have never considered campaigning, or it may have been a while since you have done door-to- door evangelism. Whatever the case may be, let me challenge you to reevaluate you’re thoughts on it. Ask yourself the question, “Can we reach people this way we would not reach any other way?” I feel a personal conviction to campaign because so many have stopped focusing on door knocking. In fact, I believe door knocking is becoming more effective because so many, both in the brotherhood and in denominations, have neglected it for so long. Now get out and take on your community and the world!
Would you be interested in learning more about the possibility of hosting a future campaign? Feel free to contact me.
Daniel Courington is the youth minister for the Roebuck Parkway Church of Christ in Birmingham, Alabama. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.