During our recent American Mission Campaign in Knoxville, Tennessee, we compiled the names of 377 contacts from the most difficult work in evangelism—cold turkey door knocking.

Gathering contacts is the first step in the evangelism model. There are several tools in the contact step that can be used by the local congregation. Success or failure depends on proper training and realistic expectations. Contacts can be divided into three simple categories.

Hot contacts are those who sit in the pews. These are best prospected by the local church. They are ripe for a Bible study, and with a little planning and effort, conversions are not hard to find. These contacts are spouses, children, long time visitors, and friends. They attend with regularity throughout the month but just will not go forward to obey the gospel. A little love, a few meals, and a visit go a long way to bring them to the cross.

Warm contacts are just one person away from any church member. These are co-workers, neighbors, ball team members, friends, and family. They do not attend but are just one invitation away. These take a little more time to prospect as you wait for an opportune moment to activate the congregation. Sending Compassion Cards, providing meals, extending benevolence, and making visits are all prospecting tools that surround contacts with compassion and kindness. They are just one question away from the study, “Would you like to know a little more about our congregation?”

Cold contacts are the unchurched with no connection to the local congregation. These are the contacts we seek during AMC campaigns. They do not visit and cannot be reached through our normal outreach measures. We find them only by knocking on their doors. They are the most numerous of all contacts and comprise the “many” (Matthew 22:1-14). They must be “bidden” to come by the “sent,” or they will never reach the cross.

Before we can complete step one, we must know whom we are seeking, how to reach them, and what to say/do when we reach them. Reaching hot contacts is easy; they are at our fingertips. Reaching warm contacts takes more forethought and patience. Reaching cold contacts takes the most effort, but the opportunities are almost endless, for the whole world needs to hear the gospel.

During AMC, we were able to prove that even the most difficult contacts can be found within mere miles of a congregation. Jesus said, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35).