If you wish to penetrate the un-churched culture around you, you will end up with a number of "cold calls." That is, pastoral, evangelistic calls intended to rescue persons you do not know. Here are some ways to warm up your cold calls.
- Accustom yourself to discomfort. We do not make cold calls because we are somewhat bookish loners who like to study and think deep thoughts. Ministerial types also often need approval and have some fear of rejection. Get over it.
- Pray. The places where you do prayer walks first will most likely be the places where God opens doors. Make a specific part of your daily prayer experience asking for open doors when you go. By open doors I mean receptive persons.
- Take someone with you. One, not four or five.
- Leave something behind you.
- Don't walk through the yard. Use the sidewalk.
- Ring the doorbell, if there is one.
- Get your hands out of your pockets. Take off your ball cap. Smile, but do not leer.
- Dress acceptably.
- When the person comes to the door, take a half-step back to be less menacing.
- Don't overthink anything beyond your opening. Introduce yourself and your companion. State your purpose. Hand over your gift, even if it is a gift of a brochure about your work.
Cold calls may be divine appointments or they may be consciousness raisers. You do not know until you make them. I will tell you what I tell first year referees I am breaking in to call basketball. It takes awhile to get this together. Here is the first rule: Hurry but do not rush.
A few other things that might help include these ideas.
- Take care of your appearance. We have to work with what we are but that does not mean we ought to let ourselves go physically.
- Don't laugh after every statement you make. Smile when it is appropriate but remember the Joker is Batman's creepiest adversary.
- Don't overtalk.
- Remember why you are on this guy's front porch.
- You just have to do this regularly. It is a high burn-out kind of thing. If the horse throws you, as the cowboys used to say, you have to get right back on it. Take a breath, knock on the next door.
- Don't talk about things that would be unacceptable in any other conversation.
- Don't try to be cool. You are either cool or you are not. There is either cool or uncool but there is nothing worse than fake cool. There is nothing worse than fake anything.
I am now going to move two steps from cold calls to make a slightly different point:
- Establish connections with unreached portions of your community. Become a substitute teacher at you local high school. No, you cannot proselyte. You are doing this for connections. I still do weddings and family funerals for people I met this way in Midlothian. You have to get some form of consent from the congregation. Someone will say you should be in the office instead, watching for the day to day operations of the church. As your church grows you will do more and more of the administrative things. However, if the office is all you do or most of what you do, you are neither the pastor nor the evangelist. You are a slightly overpaid office manager.
- Go to the local sporting events; kids soccer games on Saturday morning do not cost you anything but time.
- Adopt a coffee shop somewhere. Don't be obtrusive or intrusive. Be present.
- If the local police or fire need a volunteer chaplain, you be that volunteer.
- Exegete your church field. You will find other ways to make connections.
- Do not be that guy who can only minister to one kind of person.
- Do not be that guy (or church) who can only minister to people who come to you.
- Never again say, "The kind of people we minister to are the kind who just use us for something and then go away." You have gotten into a pattern. You are testifying there of the kind of people you are comfortable ministering to day by day. You need to expand and your prospect base will grow with you.
- Most of us feel greater comfort hanging with people who are part of the social-economic demographic in which we matured. This means we go as high as we were raised but no higher. Look up, not just back.
- Accentuate the difference in you and your work. Why should someone be attracted to what you say, to you, to your place of worship? If you cannot tell this in one sentence, you need to get it that way. Say your one sentence more than once in an interview.