HOW CAN YOU MOTIVATE PEOPLE TO WIN SOULS?
By: Tommy Barnett
Someone asked me one time why I put so much time into soulwinning. In my ministry soulwinning is the whole purpose of following Jesus. But too few Christians are actually soulwinners. As a pastor, I puzzled for years over why this is so. I believe the Lord has given me an answer for my congregation which has resulted in more than 1,500 conversions in a 13-week period. Before I share what happened in this program, let me tell you why soulwinning is the focus of my entire ministry.
In Matthew 4:19-22, Jesus is talking with Peter, Andrew, James and John. He tells them that if they give up their work and become “fishers of men” instead they will win souls for God. Verse 19 does not say maybe they will win some souls, or possibly a few people will come to Christ through their efforts. Rather, it is a promise: Devote yourselves to soulwinning and souls will indeed be saved.
No doubt the disciples worked hard as fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. Holding a job and providing for our families is good. We may be doing a lot of good things but Jesus says unless we are fishing for men we are not following Him. Remember in Luke 11:42 where Jesus is talking to the scribes and Pharisees about what they were doing and what they were not doing. What they were doing was fine, but they were forgetting the most important things; “these ought ye to have done.” Today, we ought to attend church. We ought to teach Sunday school. Those works are good, but we ought not to leave soulwinning undone if we want Jesus to know that we are following Him.
See the great promises the Holy Spirit makes to those who fish for men. Proverbs ll:3O says, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.”
A friend once told me of a young man named Jimmy who attends his church. Jimmy is retarded and has few abilities that could be used in building up a church. He wanted to sing in the choir but Jimmy couldn’t learn the songs. He wanted to lead prayer in the services, but poor Jimmy couldn’t even put a few words together.
One day Jimmy heard his pastor telling about how Andrew continually brought people to Jesus to be saved. Jimmy’s simple mind caught that! He began to bring boys and girls to his pastor and with a big grin would say, “Pastor, they want to be saved.” In a year Jimmy brought 25 people to his pastor, who in turn led each of them to a saving knowledge of Jesus.
I’m glad the Bible doesn’t say that great learning or great strength or great beauty makes us wise in the sight of God. Rather, “he that winneth souls is wise.” Jimmy doesn’t impress many people with his intelligence or his looks. But the Bible tells us that Jimmy in his simple way is wise!
If Jesus can make Jimmy a fisher of men then we have no excuse that Jesus will accept. I want to be wise in the eyes of Jesus and hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” when I stand before my Lord.
Did you ever sit on a hill out in the country at night and look up at the sky? Thousands and thousands of stars twinkle and glitter down at you. How beautiful they are! Remember those stars when you read Daniel 12:3, “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”
The promise to us is that God’s fishers of men are going to shine forever like those beautiful stars. You may never impress anyone here, but if you are a soulwinner, you will shine in the eyes of your Savior throughout eternity.
There is also another reason to win souls. James 5:19-20 says, “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”
There are sins of commission and sins of omission. If you are like me, so busy, there are times when we don’t stop and ask forgiveness for each sin-and many times we aren’t aware of our sins of omission. Is it possible that God is telling us in verse 20 that if we will fish for men, those sins which we omit from our prayers will be hidden? God is good. He knows that I am weak flesh and He hides a multitude of mistakes when I am, like Jesus, “about my Father’s business.”
If there are so many benefits we can receive from soulwinning, why are not more Christians practicing it? This is a question over which I puzzled for many years. But now I believe God has shown me an answer. Most people are not practicing soulwinning because they don’t know how to and they are afraid. As Christians they know they should be winning people to the Lord, but they’re not. So they walk around feeling guilty because no one has ever taken the time to train them and to help them overcome their fears.
Once I realized what the problem was, I took steps to overcome it. I instituted a new 13-week course in soulwinning and it has revolutionized our church.
We call it the Saturday Soulwinning Society and we meet on Saturday mornings from 8:30 to noon. The first hour is devoted to teaching. We show members the importance of soulwinning, and give them practical strategies to follow, all backed with appropriate Scripture, of course. Then, for the next two hours we send them out in teams, a new class member paired with an experienced soulwinner, to make home visits. We do not ask them to go into unfamiliar neighborhoods or to knock on doors cold. We provide them with “contacts,” people who have visited our church, unsaved relatives of church members, or the unsaved parents of children who ride our church bus.
During our Wednesday night prayer and praise service, we invite class members to share about their experiences and to introduce those whom they have led to the Lord during the past week. This reinforces the importance of soulwinning in people’s minds and also gives encouragement to those who have been fearful or shy about witnessing themselves. In our first class we had 70 people. During the 13-week class period they brought 1,591 people to the Lord. Now we have 400 people in our Saturday class. Our goal is to have 1,500 people out every Saturday, winning souls for the Lord.
We have discovered that most people are excited about soulwinning, once they realize that they are going to be trained and that someone will go with them on their first visit. We have shared our program with other churches and they have reported phenomenal results also. In fact, we have received so many requests for information and materials that we have put together a package which we send out to help others get started.
We never tell our people that soulwinning is easy. In fact, sometimes it can be painful. But as individuals, and as a church, we are now experiencing the truth of Psalm 126:5-6, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”
Tommy Barnett became pastor of Phoenix First Assembly, Phoenix, Arizona, in December 1979. By October 1981 his church had earned the “Fastest Growing Church” award presented by the International Christian Education Association and Moody Monthly. The church he previously pastored, Westside Assembly of God, Davenport, Iowa, received the same award in 1976. Phenomenal growth and numerous conversions are hallmarks of his ministry.
(The above material originally appeared in Ministries Magazine.)
Christian Information Network