There is an ongoing effort by Millennials and Gen Zers (those 35 and younger) to eliminate doorbell usage. They argue that these bells, chimes and buzzers have become: a) unnecessary, since most young people now use their cell phones to text or call and announce their arrival at your door; b) dangerous, since one might be seeking entrance into the wrong residence, which might be followed by incurring the wrath of frosty (and often annoyed) neighbors; and c) panic-inducing, since we all know that ‘no one’ uses the doorbell anymore, we can only imagine what awful form of old person or sales rep is the cause of that startling and unexpected buzz or bell. I have experienced this change in practice myself every time the pizza delivery person calls from the car in front of our house or my teenage child’s friend texts from our front porch.
The world is constantly changing. Fifty years ago, you’d expect people to occasionally knock on the door or ring the bell; people would “drop by” unexpectedly, so the sitting room or parlor or living room needed to be always ready for guests and mother had a tin of cookies hidden for “company”. Now, no one comes to visit unannounced, partly because people today are so rarely home (what with work and the gym and the kids’ sports and PTA meetings) and partly because people today cherish their privacy (we let others know about us through social media or over coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts, not through visitors being allowed to rummage through our medicine cabinet or magazines). We know the rules of the cul-de-sac: if the garage door or the window shade is down, do not ring the bell unless you’ve been invited over.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. Luke 10:38
It seems to me that since we no longer want people to come to our home unannounced, we ought to consider the practice of inviting them over for a meal, a cup of coffee, a game, a party or a chat. Perhaps you could have family dinner with a college student you met at church or watch the Patriots play with the older gentlemen across the street. Perhaps you could have coffee with the mother of one of your child’s friends while they played video games or let the single mom you are friendly with when you are both at the grocery store wash a load of clothes in your machine while you talk about “This Is Us”. Be like Martha and open your home.
One last thing about “dropping by” and doorbell ringing: remember that October 31st is Halloween, and if you have a bell, let it be rung. Take advantage of the fact that kids in costumes will be ringing your doorbell eleven nights from now. Introduce yourself to the parents you haven’t met and give out the big bars to the little children – especially if the neighborhood knows yours is a Christian home.