- Jim Townsley
- May 18, 2011
Soul-winning should be the heart and soul of every church, especially every new church. The pastor must set the tone for all the members. If the pastor is not a soul winner it is unlikely that other members will have a burden for the lost. The ministry has many demands of the pastor's time, but every preacher must set the tone for the future of the entire church family.
In today's culture every church should have and maintain a church web site. However, a pastor has more important things to do than to continually be on his computer and tweaking his site. Family time is an absolute necessity to every man of God, but starting a new church requires the sacrifice of hobbies, vacations, and even evenings alone at home. Every evening is a prime time to visit the lost and two hours a week will not get the job done. In addition, there are many benevolent deeds that may be greatly appreciated, but nothing should take the place of soul-winning. Working a job leaves little time to go out into the community to reach and win souls. Seldom is it a good idea to start a church while working a job. (Some pastors in rural areas may be bi-vocational their entire ministry, but theirs is a different situation than most.)
When I started Central Baptist Church I was advised (told) to visit at least forty hours a week. I was a novice so I took their advice and, I might add, I am glad I did. During my first several months I was not very efficient in my visitation. I visited during the day when only ten percent of my visits found anyone home. I started visiting in the most remote areas of town instead of the areas that might have the best prospects. In spite of my lack of knowledge, I found some people home and won some people to the Lord. This was hard work. Did I say this was hard work? But, every new church needs a pastor who spends a lot of time visiting the lost.
Every pastor must do visitation, follow-up and discipleship, but never should these take the place of soul-winning. Churches that start in a community where people are looking for a good church may falsely think they are doing well because several new people are attending, but if souls are not being saved the church has failed!
Soul-winning involves the right approach. Within our fundamental fellowship there have been proponents of easy-believism or as some call it easy-prayerism. There is no easy way to win souls. You can't trick men into salvation. If you have several decisions, but no one coming to church you need to recognize something is wrong. There is one sure way to know if you are really winning souls. Look around the auditorium on a Sunday night or a Wednesday and ask how many people here tonight have been saved during the last year? I dare say many churches would be ashamed of the lack of results. Some people you win to the Lord will not attend your church, but many will if they are truly saved and an effort is made to follow them up.
Keeping tracts and a New Testament with you at all times is important. Being soul conscious is vital to build a soul-winning ministry. Training new members to be soul-winners will determine the spirit of your church. It seems today the tendency of many new Christians is once they get saved they have a desire for the church to grow, but when the church grows they feel the church has changed and they are receiving less attention than before. As strange as it sounds everyone desires the church to grow in theory, but in fact they are satisfied with their new fellowship and happy to keep within their new clique. Preacher, you must keep the burden of soul-winning before your church constantly.
Training soul-winners is a long term endeavor. Every soul you win should become a bold witness, but the truth is many do not. It is important to capture the zeal of new converts and get them grounded as soon as possible, so that they may become vibrant witnesses.
Every soul-winner must thoroughly understand the following four truths:
1. Mans depravity and sinful condition
2. Christ's substitutionary death
3. Enlightenment concerning his lost condition and the only means of salvation is in Christ
4. The Holy Spirit must draw a man or he will not come
If any of these four principles are missing it is impossible for a man to be saved. Everyone who hears a clear plan of salvation will not be saved and often many visits are necessary along with many prayers being offered. Keep the door open and never give up on anyone.
Every church should have an ongoing training program for soul-winners.
Every church should have a weekly time/s for members to visit the lost.
Every church should have testimonies of soul-winners and souls saved in the church services.
Every church should maintain excitement about winning the lost.
If I could point to one thing that most determines the success or failure of a new church, soul-winning would be the primary reason for its success and the lack of soul-winning would be the reason for its failure.