“Hello we’re missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and we’d like to…” SLAM.

“Good morning ma’am we’re missionaries from the…” SLAM

“Hi, my name is Elder Covey and this is my companion Elder Lee. We’d like to share a message with you about…” SLAM.

Multiply those experiences by a thousand and you’ve essentially summed up the first month of my mission. My companion and I literally knocked on thousands of doors and only got let in twice. I couldn’t believe that this was how missionary work was to be conducted: knocking on doors, speaking for a few seconds, and then having the door slammed in your face. Rinse and repeat. I remember thinking: “Two years of this. No wonder missionaries look forward so much to their two luxuries in life: food and sleep.” But as dismal as the results were, the missionaries in the ELSM (England London South Mission) were convinced that this was the only way to find people.

Sound familiar? After speaking with many missionaries since it seems that my experience was not unique. It’s really tough to get results from door-to-door tracting. So why do we continue to do it in ways that don’t work? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Last week I explained the three key principles of finding. Check out the post here (link) if you would like to review. In the ELSM we created an approach that utilized all three of these principles when tracting- the 8-Step Door Approach. The results were phenomenal. After a one-year implementation we found that on average we could get in one out of four doors and teach a short lesson one out of two times for each home we got in to. This is a staggering statistic- especially coming after we struggled to even get in one door in a thousand.

The key to the success of the door approach is belief. If you believe you’ll get in-you will. If you don’t-you won’t. As you’ll see, the 8-Step Door Approach is not for the faint of heart. It requires boldness, determination, and practice to be successful. It also requires that you remember your purpose as a missionary-to teach the gospel. Make no bones about it; this approach is a skill that gets better with trial and error.

In the 8-Step Door approach missionaries will be using a survey in order to engage people in conversation, rather than immediately getting the door slammed in their face. We adjusted the questions in the survey several times during my mission. Below are the questions that seemed to work the best for my mission. However, every mission is different and you may find that other questions would be better suited to your area.

  1. Is a close, strong family important to you?
  2. Do you feel that churches today could do more to strengthen families?
  3. Do you have a belief in God or in a supreme being?
  4. Do you have a belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God?
  5. Do you accept the Bible as the word of God or as a history book?
  6. If there were another book of scripture that spoke of Christ would you be interested in reading it?
  7. Have you ever asked yourself, where did I come from, why am I here, andam I going after I leave this earth life?
  8. Do you pray?
  9. Do you feel that God hears and answers prayers?
  10. Would you like to be happier than you are now? What would make you happier?

Through the survey missionaries will be able to understand more about the potential investigator’s spiritual background and interests, and thereby know where to focus their teaching. For example, if they showed interest after question 6 you would want to emphasize the Book of Mormon in your lesson. After each question you have the opportunity to ask a number of follow-up questions to get to know them better- What do they think churches could do to strengthen families? How often do they pray? etc  

Sometimes you may get a “no” or negative response to nearly every question. But in my experience it won’t be for all 10 questions. Whatever “yes” or positive response you get you can turn into an opportunity for them to learn more. 

            The 8-Step Door Approach


  1. Knock on the door-give a friendly greeting, smile, and be enthused and excited.
    “Hello Sir, how are you today?”
  2. Introduce yourself and your companion, shake hands and ask for their name. There is no need to introduce the Church at this point. “My name is Elder Covey and this is my companion Elder Lee. It’s nice to meet you – what is your name?”       Pause until their name is given.
  3. Explain the survey-it only takes a moment. “In fact, what we are doing today Mr. Brown is taking a little survey, as you can see (show them the survey) this only takes three minutes of your time – 10 short questions concerning your opinion on a few things.” “Like what?” they may say. “Oh, just your feelings on families and other things. For instance, is a close, strong family important to you?”
  4. Ask them to take the survey

“Would you be so kind as to help us for a minute?”

  1. Ask to step in.

“May we step in?” Moving forward – “Oh, thank you!”

  1. Don’t take the survey right inside the door – you need to be seated in their house. Say two magic words – “Straight through?” pointing inside their house.
  2. Find a comfortable place to sit down where you can be close to them. It is also equally important that they are seated as well, or else once the survey is over, they’ll be expecting you to leave.

“Do you mind if we sit here? Oh, thank you – is there a place for you?

  1. Reaffirm the survey, take it, and move into the first lesson by asking them who they would like to say the prayer.

“Oh, thank you very much for answering these questions. In fact, what we have that goes hand in hand (key words) with this short survey is a brief message which gives the answers to the questions where we came from, why we are here on earth, and where we are going after leaving this life. However, this message is of a spiritual nature (key words), so we always like to start out with a word of prayer, and since this is your home, would you like to say the prayer or would you like one of us to?” Without fail, they will let you say the prayer.

If they are thoroughly uninterested, or if they simply don’t have the time they will stop you. Otherwise you can proceed weaving in their answers and interests into the first lesson.

Due to the boldness of the 8-Step Door Approach new missionaries are sometimes critical of it. During my mission I would often provide the first introduction of the survey approach to new missionaries. They would cringe at the boldness required saying that it was too “obtrusive, over-bearing, and misleading.” I would ask them if they thought Ammon was obtrusive, over-bearing, and misleading with his approach with King Lamoni. Then I would say “Ok, let’s go tracting the old way and then you can decide which approach you want to do.” We would then spend an hour getting doors slammed in our faces. Once I saw a tinge of discouragement, I would then ask if they wanted to try something else. Having experienced failure, they were more eager to try something new. We would then spend the next hour teaching a lesson after getting in one of our first four attempts with the survey.

The vision of 8-Step Door Approach is to help missionaries remember why they are on their mission: to teach. Somehow, we have gotten that mixed up. Sometimes missionaries think their purpose is to find, rather than to teach. This approach is only a mechanism that makes teaching more become a day-to-day reality for missionaries.

Check in next week as I talk about how to help investigators make and keep commitments. In the meantime, I invite you to check out my book and website

What experiences have you had tracting? What do you think about the 8-Step Door Approach? Share below!