FAQ: Should Christians Preach the Gospel Door to Door (Acts 20:20)?
A quick reading of Acts 20:20 might give the impression that the apostle Paul went from house to house to preach the gospel of the Kingdom to the unconverted. The context, however, beginning with verse 17, reveals the true meaning.
The apostle Paul "sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church," and said to them "I . . . taught you publicly and from house to house" (Acts 20:17-20). Paul taught the leaders of the church in their own homes. He was not going from house to house attempting to witness to or persuade whomever opened the door.
Acts 2:46 is another frequently misunderstood scripture: "So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they [the apostles and the new converts] ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart." Notice that these people were all in harmony. They continued "daily with one accord." They were all of the same belief. This verse is simply recording the actions of people who ate meals together as one might have close friends over to his home. It says nothing about preaching to strangers.
In this instance, many had congregated at Jerusalem from many nations to attend one of God's annual festivals, Pentecost. Because they had traveled a long distance, and because they had no home in Jerusalem, the brethren who lived there invited them to come to their homes and eat. (Eating an ordinary meal is referred to as "breaking bread" in many Bible versions.) The converted brethren ate in the homes of other converted brethren. They were not preaching in the homes of the unconverted.
The apostle Paul had his own hired house at Rome where he "received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God," which Jesus had commanded His true servant to preach (Acts 28:30-31). The apostle Paul was taught the gospel personally by Jesus Christ Himself (I Corinthians 15:8; Galatians 1:11 — 2:2). One of Jesus' teachings is that we should not force the gospel upon anyone (Matthew 7:6; 10:11-15). Therefore, it is evident that Paul did not go from house to house trying to convert people. When Paul preached publicly, it was primarily in the synagogues of his day.
Today, when the gospel is proclaimed, anyone is at liberty to listen or not to listen. The gospel is also being published and sent free of charge to all who request it. Also, as in the example given in the New Testament, church of God ministers will go into the homes of people who invite them to counsel with them. They will not go uninvited into people's homes to try to persuade and teach them Bible truths. God's truth should never be forced on anyone. As Jesus remarks in Matthew 7:6, the truth is too precious for that.
It is also legitimate to ask, "Should we invite into our homes just anyone who is going from house to house trying to persuade us to accept his form of doctrine?" The apostle John gives God's instruction: "If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine [the truth of God], do not receive him into your house, nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds [spreading false doctrine]" (II John 10-11).
The example of Jesus Christ and His apostles shows we should not to preach from house to house. Neither should we accept into our homes any peddlers of religion who might show up on our doorstep.