APPROACHING THE PROSPECT
BY MARK HANBY & V. ARLEN GUIDROZ
An “approach” is the avenue or method you use to introduce the subject of Holy Ghost salvation. The approach to a soul involves your personality, your appearance, the total plan you devise to reach a soul
and the circumstances at each encounter. It includes more than can be named but essentially it climaxes in the conversation which leads the soul to the altar. Your approach to a soul is most important.
To understand the various approaches we should first understand the basic methods of evangelism.
I. THREE METHODS OF EVANGELISM
The Christian’s Life
Some people naively say, “I think a man’s actions speak louder than his words so I just let my life witness for Him.” This is supreme self-righteousness, a spiritual pride in a life so holy that it stands in silent grandeur, witnessing without a word. A light so bright does attract, but it also burns.
We do not deny the need for a strong Christian life as a witness to the world of the saving power of Jesus Christ. But statues of heroes also remind us of goodness and many Christian virtues. Statues never speak, they never pull a dying soul from the clutches of hell. Your silent witness is good but it is too slow.
Revival is a combination of many methods but it is, in itself, an approach to the soul of man. Preaching, singing, praying, the testimony and the altar appeal combine into a powerful convergence. The entire evangelistic service is but one great attempt to get the sinner to think seriously about the Holy Ghost The apex is the altar appeal, the ultimate approach to the heart and soul.
In most of our churches the majority of people receive the Holy Ghost in revivals. This is a very effective method. Revival is a must and without it a church will die.
However, there is another method of evangelism which feeds the revival. Without the next method, the revival will die.
Personal Evangelism is the greatest method to win souls. Revivals die, or are never born, simply because no one worked personally to see that hungry souls were present to hear the evangelist or pastor. Preparation for revival involves more than advertising in the newspaper and renting an apartment for the evangelist It even includes more than prayer and fasting, as vitally important as that is. Without personal work prior to and during the campaign, the evangelist, pastor and church will struggle with empty altars and less than complete services.
The personal evangelist does not have to wait for revival to work for souls. He is a (personal) evangelist himself and can win souls to the truth and pray them through to the Holy Ghost even during the daytime, or at home. The personal evangelist helps maintain perpetual revival.
These are a few reasons why personal evangelism is the most successful evangelism method.
1. It is an educational process. Being more deliberate and planned, it results in a calculated decision by the prospect They will not as often make a spur of the moment decision but neither are they as likely to give up their experience on the spur of the moment It seems easier to accept and appreciate something you know more about.
2. The teaching method is employed here. Jesus said, “Go teach” as well as “Go preach.”
3. The main method of Jesus Christ was personal evangelism. This is the way He won men to Himself. Andrew, Peter, Matthew, all the Apostles as well as the Samaritan woman and a multitude of others were
won this way.
4. It is PERSONAL work, directed effort The prospect knows and feels that you are interested in him personally. When working with one person you can concentrate upon their needs. Of course, the personal evangelist will be reaching out to more than one at a time but with the feeling that just one is important.
5. It is personal WORK, real work, applying energy to the task! You, the evangelist have a lasting interest in that which you do. Because you invest yourself into the task you will want to see it done well.
II. VARIOUS APPROACHES IN PERSONAL EVANGELISM
No one approach will be effective in every situation you encounter in the personal evangelism method. By knowing these varied approaches, however, you will be more useful to the Holy Spirit as you cooperate together in winning souls. Study these approaches carefully.
1. Personal Experience Approach
The Apostle Paid based every defense upon his personal experience with the Lord. People are deeply interested in people! Americans spend millions of dollars annually to find out what is happening to other
people. They read the newspapers, magazines and books as well as tuning in to the electronic media. A good speaker who transfers a feeling that he really believes what he is saying commands high fees. People pay to hear a deeply moving, heartfelt Experience.
Paul convincingly said, “I went to Damascus..I saw a light from heaven … I fell to the ground … I heard a voice speaking unto me .. I said, Who art thou, Lord?…I was not disobedient to that heavenly vision…I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great..I am not mad..I speak freely… I know that thou believest.” (From Paul’s defense before King Agrippa, Acts 26:12-27)
Give your testimony as often as you can to as many as possible. Do it in thankfulness and humility but with certainty.
2. Other Man’s Interest Approach
The other man’s interest is your interest. You talk about him, his hobbies and interests. His main interest should be yours for the moment, not a false interest but with sincerity. Your interest has an
object namely, the saving of his soul. The more you know about the person and the more sincere interest he feels you have in him as a person, the more effective is your influence.
With young people, this approach is especially effective. Finding the things they like to do or want to do gives you an avenue to spending some time together. Helping a teenager with his hobbies or showing an
interest in the subjects he especially likes will open doors to many hours of discussion.
If a person is courteous, after you have shown a conversational interest in their concerns, they will ask, ” How do you spend your spare time?” Your answer: “I spend most of my time for the church!” You are then launched into a profitable discussion.
3. Common Ground Approach
The “common ground” approach matches your interest with that of your prospect Similar interests finds the prospect on the same level as you, making your job much easier. Man to man–woman to woman-your conversation is made easy because you share the same concerns.
Such subjects as travel, jobs, kinfolk, books, hunting, fishing, housework, sewing, singing, hobbies, and politics open tree-shaded avenues to the heart. Your mutual interest is the approach to the drawbridge leading to the lonely island of the soul, where every man lives. The prospect lets the bridge down for you to cross over when you show interest in his interests.
Warning: Don’t linger longer than necessary in these conversations. Time passes quickly while talking about familiar things, and before long the opportunity to control the subject is lost Bored people go away uninterested and unconvinced.
Remember: The approach is short and temporary, like the curved entrance ramp to the super highway. You cannot forever stay on the approaches. Hasten with deliberate course to the open highway to the heart.
Consider: Your message of salvation is more important than your opinion about politics or your knowledge of any other subject Only as you impart truth and lead a soul into God’s will have you helped the prospect.
Paul’s statement, “I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee…” quickly enlisted the support of the Pharisees for him (Acts 23: 6). He put himself on common ground with them and saved his cause. The Lord
commended him for his testimony, which combined the personal testimony and the common ground approach.
4. Honest Compliment Approach
Sincere, truthful commendation is always in order. Such honesty on your part in recognizing the good things a person does opens their heart We all like a compliment given in a simple, moderate way in
recognizing true accomplishment and dislike seeing our strong points ignored.
Commend a man for his good points. Note a person’s sincerity, compliment their faith in God, regularity in church attendance, the work they do in their church, or the way their family is cared for. Commend their devotion, the way they carry responsibility or the fact they are a good neighbor.
This is very disarming. Rather than condemning you have come complimenting. Because we live a high standard of holiness, people expect us to condemn others. Some people have done this indiscreetly in the past Barriers fall when the unexpected compliment falls on ears tuned for condemnation.
We can compliment every step a person has taken toward God, all the while leading them into truth. Compliment the person who already believes in Jesus and lead him to repentance. Commend the one who has repented and lead him into baptism in Jesus’ name and the Holy Ghost.
5. The Direct Question Approach
The sinner expects the Christian to talk about spiritual matters. By this we do not mean that you should “nag” the sinner nor be obnoxious with your approach. However, knowing he expects you to talk about
spiritual matters is compelling reason enough to be direct with your questions.
Your sincerity counts much here, as does your total life. Good timing also counts, preventing undue embarrassment of the sinner in front of others.
These questions will open profitable discussions:
1. “How are things between you and God?”
2. “If Jesus were to come, would you be ready?”
3. “When do you plan to receive the Holy Ghost?”
4. “Your family should be reared right. Wouldn’t it be better to start them young?”
Never say, “Are you a Christian?” To the person who is looking for a way to turn you off, a simple yes or no is effective. What else can you say after their “yes” answer?
Obviously, for the Direct Question Approach to be effective, you must know something about the prospect and prepare for action.
6. Personal Needs Approach
The outstretched hand, opened to help, is the symbol of the soulwinner. Jesus said, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest” He was the great Helper, giving assistance in the
time of need. He provided wine to save the wedding feast He was the Good Samaritan. He is the Friend at midnight and the Friend who weeps with the bereaved at Lazarus’ tomb.
Your prospects often need a helping hand. They look for someone to hear out their burdens or a sympathetic arm around the shoulder in time of death or tragedy. In the hospital you can say, “What can I do for you?” Never say, “If there is anything I can do for you, please call met” Most people will not call you later but they will share a need with you at the moment.
7. Discussion and Question Approach
We often do too much of the talking and do not take time to listen to the prospect. Given time to speak, the prospect will often give you deep hidden clues to his thoughts. When you discover what he needs to discuss, you have made a short-cut through much tedious conversation.
Begin the approach by saying, “Perhaps there are a few questions in your mind which I can clear up.” His revealing answer will vault you over intricate approaches and save much time in discovering perplexing
needs. For instance, you will discover how good his Bible knowledge is and the depth of his longing for spiritual answers.
Sometimes the prospect will say, “Yes, there is something that has bothered me a long time.” Or he may say, “Explain to me why you believe (this or that).” From this you are even able to lead into the answers
to questions he may not have asked but which tie in to his question. We believe that every subject in the Scriptures is linked to the Gospel.
8. The Direct Approach
People are on the lookout for the insincere and the hypocrite. They are wary of the religious sneak who comes up on their blind side and stealthily fools them. “Truth in packaging” is a principle that applies to the gospel as well to manufactured products.
The “Direct Approach” is the most effective in this day. On other pages we have explored different approaches which the successful soulwinner must know. A knowledge of them is essential in dealing with varying situations at different times and places. However, you will discover the most effective approach to be the “Direct Approach.” It disarms people and leaves them little defense.
The “Direct Approach” Was Paul’s Method
To the disciples of John the Baptist in Ephesus (Acts 19) his first question was direct Note how he built a bridge to them, stood on their ground and brought them back into his spiritual truth- ” Have you received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?” Direct-quick-a considered statement’ He adds, after their negative reply, “Unto what then were ye baptized?” Another direct question? And it worked.
Look a man straight in the eye and speak right to his heart Don’t be afraid. There’s nothing to hide and everything to gain by being open with your message. The world waits to hear from the man who knows what he believes and why he believes it.
Some Statements You May Use In The Direct Approach
Have you received the Holy Ghost?
The Lord is coming soon!
I came by to talk to you about your eternal soul!
I came by to discuss the scriptures.
What have you been reading in the Bible lately?
What has the Lord done for you lately?
How were you baptized?
I want to tell you my personal experience.
Have you ever been miraculously healed?
Have you ever seriously considered the Pentecostal experience?
III. A SPECIAL APPROACH
This is the question most often asked by inexperienced personal evangelism prospects. Most answers they receive are inadequate because they involve almost a pat formula to be memorized. Everybody wants a sure-fire statement which will arrest the prospect wrap him in awe, purge him of doubt cleanse him of false doctrine and immediately bend his knee while drawing faith, confession and tears from him.
To answer the question, “What do I say” let’s first establish the principles of a method that really works. Then we will give some specific things you could say.
Develop A “Current Line Of Thought” Which Challenges
This principle is the tried and proven method of one of our greatest soulwinning churches. This is one of the secrets they use in arresting the mind to confront it with spiritual truth.
Develop a “Current Line Of Thought” which is of vital interest at the moment Current events, important happenings, popular movements, developments in the religious field, and occurrences in nature captivate the mind of man. The soulwinner focuses upon things in which people are interested at the moment Student riots, crime, natural disasters, political re-alignments and changes in the religious world all are subjects of intense human interest You can use these to start the conversation and then lead into the spiritual answers. Biblical prophecy deals with every one of these categories. The Bible has
something to say about nearly everything occurring in our times. We, the students of Bible truth and possessors of Holy Ghost power, can give the only undistorted view of these events.
The prospect is interested in these things and you are prepared to talk about them. You know where you will lead the conversation. To “lead” the conversation you must ever be conscious that it not bog down on mere opinions nor stray far from your purpose. You don’t have all day to say what is on your heart so you must adroitly and as quickly as possible use the ” Current Line of Thought” as a vehicle to carry the
Such statements as these can be used. “Do you sense something great is about to happen in the world?” – ” How far can our country go without some changes in its morals?”-“Did you read about the group of folks in the Catholic (or Baptist Methodist Lutheran or whichever group you read about) church who received the Holy Ghost?”. . And from there you lead into Holy Ghost for them today.
Say Something You Know And Feel
You must personally know and feel the importance of the “Current Line Of Thought” you use. Lacking these ingredients, you cannot effectively discuss nor use the statement to a spiritual advantage.
We are stirred concerning end-time events and present-day Bible fulfillments. The Bible speaks of the lawlessness and rebellion of our day. It describes the conflicts of the Middle East and predicts wars and rumors of wars. The Bible prophecies correctly concerning the increase of earth-quakes and also of knowledge which includes the vast electronic marvels and explosion of learning. The political, military,
economic, social and religious re-alignments of Europe are all subjects of scriptural focus and are pertinent to the unsettled conditions of the world today.
Most people have never heard anyone intelligently discuss these questions from a Bible standpoint Your knowledge on these subjects is vast compared to the average religious expositor. With your knowledge and your intense feeling about human concerns, you will relate to those with whom you speak.
The “Current Line Of Thought” will change occasionally. As long as people are moved, use the thought. When it no longer is working to stir hearts, you should change to something more effective. Remember:
use a current line of thought. Keep it current. Change it from month-to-month or even week-to-week if necessary. But use it so long as souls are being won, which they surely will be.
Build A Bridge To The Prospect
A verbal bridge must be built quickly to each prospect a span between your spiritual world and their carnal thinking. This is a deliberate effort on your part to take yourself into their world that you might
walk back with them into yours. An example would illustrate better than several paragraphs.
Vesta Mangun is a successful soulwinner. Many people ask her, “What is your method? How is it that you walk into a restaurant and in just a few minutes have the waitress engrossed in a discussion or crying and wanting to seek the Holy Ghost?” Perhaps she could not give a simple 1-2-3 but this incident will enlighten you as to one way she would reach a soul.
At the New York Harvestime-Home Missions-METECO Rally in June, 1970, several couples went into a crowded Jewish restaurant about noon. The Manguns were seated with another couple. Witnessing and evangelism were the purposes for being in New York, so the one couple watched to see how Sis. Mangun would approach the Jewish waiter. The place was extremely crowded and several people were calling for waiters, to no avail. She complimented the place because of the good business and the fine way the waiters were serving the crowd. Then she said, “This is a Jewish restaurant isn’t it!” With a smile he replied in the affirmative. Sis. Mangun said, “Are you a Jew?” He smiled again, pencil in hand, waiting for the order while hearing the call of others in the background and said, “Yes, I’m a Jew.”
Note this: she walked into his world, crossing the bridge into his life by showing an interest in him. Then she brought him back across into our world by saying, “We’re Jews!” Immediately, the entire Old Testament opened up. We walked with him into Abraham’s life, Moses’ life, the Jew’s wanderings and as quickly as possible we hastened, verbally, into the New Testament. And there was Jesus and the Church!
And the Holy Ghost experience! It was twenty minutes before we ordered, and all the while the full tables around us went uncared for. He was touched, stirred, and captivated. Our spiritual judgment from
past experience says he could easily be won to God with continued contact We were sad to have to leave him, alone among the millions, back in his Jewish world.
Nothing can stop the ” Power Witness.” Under the inspiration of the power of God he will know the right approach to the soul.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS TAKEN FROM “THE POWER WITNESS” AND PUBLISHED BY THE GENERAL HOME MISSIONS DEPARTMENT, UNITED PENTECOSTAL CHURCH, HAZELWOOD, MISSOURI, PAGES 43-48.
THIS MATERIAL MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.