The Science Of Sustained Evangelism
By Gene Edwards
There is a science to sustaining evangelism in your church. It is possible to have a church in which:
“The Lord added to the church daily.”
Remember, the way to sustain personal evangelism is first to start it!
I have seen many churches come out of a Campaign in Personal Evangelism, to go on to grow a bigger weekly visitation program and consistently win more to Christ than they did in the Campaign itself. Many churches have grown visitation programs almost as large as their Sunday evening congregations.
As has already been suggested, as soon as the Campaign has ended, move immediately into “Sustained Evangelism”. The first thing to do is begin a weekly visitation program.
What comes next? You should have a year’s Calendar of Personal Evangelism planned. When the Campaign is over, begin following this calendar immediately. (You should draw up your year’s Calendar of Personal Evangelism as soon as you have finished this book.)
Some of the points discussed in this chapter can be considered simply as suggestions. Others you will find are indispensable if you are to continue personal evangelism in your church.
I. The Key To Sustained Evangelism
The key to keeping evangelism is continued training. Plan another Soul Winning Campaign in the next six months!
Don’t expect one campaign to be a cure-all for the next decade. You have one or two evangelists in your church each year. You never expect them to establish permanent results! They do not set in motion a program of mass evangelism which lasts 365 days a year. They do not sustain revival. But you keep having evangelistic campaigns.
One campaign in personal evangelism cannot set your church into an eternal orbit of soul winning. But it can do something mass evangelism cannot do. It can sustain soul winning for several months. Have a second soul winning campaign in your church, and you can start expecting the impossible to happen. More people will participate in the second campaign. There will be even greater interest. The second time more of your people know what to expect, and what to plan for.
There will be greater results, too. And from the second campaign, you can expect a large number of your people to arrive at a new plateau of witnessing. Many will begin witnessing everywhere they go, and every day. This is the ultimate end of evangelism: evangelism that is a natural, daily part of the layman’s life. You will soon notice that you have a nucleus of soul winners who just will not quit. As one pastor put it, “They wouldn’t stop winning souls if I started preaching against it.”
If you were to make a graph of a campaign in mass evangelism, indicating the sustaining quality of its evangelistic results, the graph line would drop to zero as soon as the meeting ended. A graph on personal evangelism would go straight out for a long time, and then begin to slowly drop. But after two or three Campaigns in personal evangelism, instead of dropping, the graph would continue to travel in a straight line. There would be no dropping. This would indicate you had to come to a point of sustained evangelism. Regardless of what does or does not happen in your church then, you have a nucleus of people who will continue to win souls; come what may. This is Sustained Evangelism!
You see, personal evangelism can do a remarkable thing: unlike mass evangelism, the more you repeat it, the stronger and more effective it becomes. Until at last it becomes the magnificent obsession of laymen.
Your church can have SUSTAINED evangelism! It is arrived at by repeated training.
II. The Pastor’s Part In Sustained Evangelism
1 Continue to win souls yourself.
If ever you stop winning souls, once you have begun, your people will know it. Keep it up.
2 Let your people know you are winning souls.
This is not to make a show of it, but to constantly remind your people that this has become the theme of your life. You can use illustrations in your sermons, about people you have talked to, people you have won. A soul winning interview can illustrate almost any point you’ll ever speak on. There are many other ways to remind your people you are still at the job.
3 Use the Announcement Period.
A pastor can increase his effectiveness as a leader, by simply planning his announcement period. Announcements can be both entertaining and informative.
Every time you make announcements, mention soul winning! Announce visitation. Why? Your church must see that it has shifted directions; that it is sailing a charted course; that whatever else comes and goes from week to week, there is one underlying emphasis that will remain.
III. The Pastor Must Give Credit To Soul Winners
1 When a few of your people first begin making efforts to witness, mention it in some of your messages.
2 Here is a real key: when you introduce new Christians as they come into the fellowship of the church, also give recognition to the one who won him to Christ. If your church has an “invitation” to receive people into the church membership, then have the new Christian to stand, and call on the soul winner who won him to come and stand with his convert.
3 The author wishes every church would be informal enough to do this next suggestion. It would keep revival going in your church.
When a new convert comes into your church (say, at the close of the service), have him give his testimony. Then have the layman who won him stand and tell about the conversion. Then take a moment to remind your people of why this has happened. “It happened because we have people going out every (Thursday) visiting in homes and talking to men about Christ. Everyone in this church should be here for Evangelism Day.”
Plug your visitation program!
The author recalls one church that missed a great blessing. This church had a two-week campaign, with a week of intensive visiting. It was a little church that had never seen many conversions, though it was in an ideal location, in a city of one million people.
That Sunday morning, following the week of visiting, the pastor gave the invitation. It lasted only about five seconds. Everyone seemed to be on their feet moving. Sixteen came forward instantly. All had found Christ in their homes that week. (Fourteen more came that evening.) The pastor took the names of those who responded to the invitation, read the names of his congregation and dismissed the service!
Had he taken only a moment more, that church could have experienced a Pentecost. One convert was a Jew (won to Christ by a man who had never witnessed before). There was a young couple with a wonderful conversion experience. Another family had been reunited in Christ.
The pastor could have called on these people to give their testimonies, or he could have at least told the story for them. He could have asked the Christians who won them to come and stand with their converts and tell the story. He missed an opportunity to simply disclose the riches of glory in Christ Jesus.
Defrost your Sunday services and “straight jacket” ritual. If you believe in the power of God, start letting it be demonstrated. Give the Holy Spirit a chance and “let the redeemed of the Lord say so!”
4 Give credit to all who visit.
When someone comes to make a public profession of faith in Christ, ask this question: “How many of you have ever visited in the home of Mr. ___?” Ask for a show of hands.
“How many of you have ever prayed for him?” Then observe, “All of you have a part in his conversion.”
This encourages everyone who is trying to witness.
IV. Have A Time Of Testimonies
Either on Sunday evening or Wednesday evening each week, have a time of testimony. When a church becomes a “doer of the Word, and not a hearer only”, then there is a great deal that is new to testify about. Most churches stopped having testimonial time because there was nothing to testify about! There is now!
Give everyone an opportunity to testify of their experience in visitation and in “extra-curricular” witnessing. This is also a good time to present prayer requests for those still being witnessed to.
This testimonial time can be a season of rejoicing’ and prayer. It can also set off a real desire in the hearts of others who are still sitting on the sidelines, to get into visitation.
Let your people hear-and tell-what great things God is doing.
V. Call For Commitments
Every week, for at least two months, have a specific time, (on Sunday or Wednesday), when you call on Christians to commit themselves to visit.
Let’s say it is Sunday evening and testimonial time is over. Ask everyone who is going visiting next week to hold up their hands. This is one of the most important keys to sustained evangelism. This forces everyone to publicly decide they will or will not attempt to be a witness. It also serves to show those who are not visiting, just how few, until now, are carrying the load of soul winning.
This also serves to spotlight the fact that you really mean business — that you expect them to witness. Each week you will notice that a few more hands go up! By keeping this weekly commitment up, you can grow a truly tremendous visitation group.
VI. Take A New Approach To Recognizing Sunday Visitors
Perhaps you have never thought about this, but you have only ONE source in the world for church growth — for any kind of additions whatever to your church. Your only source of growth is visitors to your church. Before a man can ever be a member of your church, he first has to be a visitor to your church.
Visitors are usually neglected.
Now, most churches think they are very friendly. They are, too, — to one another. Not to visitors, though. Lay-men are afraid to go up to a perfect stranger in the church and introduce themselves. (They are afraid the “stranger”, may turn out to be one of the deacons!)
Most churches ask visitors to fill out a visitor’s card. But even then, a visitor can go away never really feeling welcomed; and often never even receiving a single hand-shake. You need a system whereby every visitor will be recognized, and warmly welcomed by the church.
This is easy to do.
When it is time to recognize visitors, simply ask all the members of the church to stand, and all the visitors to re-main seated. This makes it easy to spot visitors, and it prevents them from having to stand to be recognized. Then ask the Christians to introduce themselves and shake hands with those visitors who are seated nearby. Then ask all those who are seated to fill out a visitors card. Every visitor is greeted and identified this way.
Like it or not, the greatest single factor that determines where people move their membership is this: how friendly is the church?
VII. Have Special Emphasis On Soul Winning Throughout The Year
Every few months you should have an emphasis in your church that spotlights certain areas of soul winning. Listed here are a few. Be sure to place them on your “Calendar of Evangelism.”
1 A drive to get everyone to carry a New Testament.
No one can be a soul winner, no matter how gifted, if he doesn’t have a Testament to witness with. Put on a drive to have every man and woman in your church to carry a Testament. Get your people to show one another they are carrying their Testaments, when they meet throughout the week.
This will not only solve the need of Christians carrying the New Testament at all times, but it can also be a great deal of fun centered around the idea of soul winning.
It can make everyone more conscious of the need of being a consistent witness.
2 Put on a drive for everyone to carry tracts.
Make up several hundred “tract packets” — one for every adult member of your church. Put on a drive to get Christians to carry these packets : (1) in their cars, to give to service station attendants; (2) to keep them in the office desk, or factory locker, etc.; and (3) for ladies, in their purses, and men in their billfold or in the New Testament they are supposed to be carrying at all times!
3 Have a drive for every home to put up a Tract Rack.
A tract rack is a little wooden (or metal or plastic) rack, nailed up somewhere near the front door, filled with evangelistic tracts. Every Christian home should be challenged to have one. Every person who knocks on the door should be given a tract.
Here, again, is a chance to focus attention on the opportunity of daily witnessing for Christ.
4 Have a SOUL WINNING RETREAT FOR YOUR MEN.
Rent out a lodge, and have a retreat for your men. Begin it on Friday night, have it to last all day Saturday. Return to the church on Sunday. Plan a special visitation emphasis for your men the following week.
Here’s how to schedule the meeting : On Friday evening, speak on the subject of “Walking in the power of the Spirit”, or some other emphasis on the deeper spiritual life that gives power to witness.
Take all day Saturday to do nothing but train the laymen in soul winning. (Eight hours of soul winning training all in one “lump” is better than only one hour for six nights.) This can be a spiritual and physical treat for your men. Challenge them anew to soul winning in the weeks to come.
(The author has conducted such retreats across America and has found them to be the best way of all to lead Christians to be soul winners.)
VII. Make The Sunday School A Great Soul Winning Institution
(100,000 lost people could be easily won to Christ next Sunday if the following suggestions were to be carried out in every evangelistically minded church in America.)
There is no easier or more ideal place in the world to win a soul to Christ than (1) in an empty Sunday School classroom, (2) right after Sunday School, (3) when it is only ten minutes before worship service, (4) witnessing to someone who is obviously interested.
All a Christian has to do is step up to a visitor, just as the Sunday School class is over, and begin talking to him. The rest of the class will be leaving. In a moment, the classroom will be empty. Find out if the visitor knows Christ. If he doesn’t, win him.
IF YOU, THE PASTOR, WILL TRAIN YOUR PEOPLE TO START DOING THIS SIMPLE ACT OF WITNESSING RIGHT AFTER SUNDAY SCHOOL EACH WEEK, YOUR CHURCH CAN WIN THREE TIMES AS MANY PEOPLE TO CHRIST AS IT IS NOW . . . EVEN IF YOU NEVER HAVE A VISITATION PROGRAM.
IX. Establish A Permanent Class In Soul Winning Training
In another place in this book, it was pointed out that one of the few things that the nation’s most evangelistic churches have in common, is that all have a year-round program of soul winning training.
You can run a Sunday evening class on soul winning for six to ten weeks. Bring all your new converts into the class. (They make the best of soul winners.) Keep plugging the class, getting those who are not active in the visitation program to begin this training program.
Repeat the class continually. Many will want a refresher course too.
Also, establish a section of books in your church library if you have one, on the best soul winning methods. Encourage your people to study the books.
X. Develop New Soul Winners
Developing new soul winners is one of the most gratifying experiences in life. As you notice a Christian who is showing an interest in witnessing, do all you can to en-courage him. Be sure he is trained properly. On Visitation Day, send him out with the best, most effective soul winners. At the end of the visitation hour, take special care to talk with him and encourage him.
Here is the greatest secret of all: when you discover someone who will be really easy to win to Christ, don’t win that person yourself. Get someone to do it who has just started trying to win souls.
On each Evangelism Day, the pastor should pick some new person to take with him visiting. Develop him. Spend time with him. Write him a letter of encouragement. Remember that when you have developed a soul winner, you have doubled the effectiveness of your own Christian life.
XI. Demand Evangelism From Your Staff And Church Leaders
There should be a hard core of people witnessing and winning people to Christ, regardless of the state of repairs your visitation program is in. Demand of your staff that they each spend one day per week knocking on doors.
Do the same thing with your teachers and deacons. Demand that they visit each week. If you can’t get some of your teachers to witness, then you should revert to a New Testament principle: less quantity and more quality. Fewer teachers; but more quality in teaching. Ultimately, it always reaps more results!
Also keep in mind that you yourself should have a certain time for witnessing. This is the key to every great soul winner’s life. At least one day a week you must give to winning the lost.
XII. Continue To Emphasize The Spirit Filled Life
We cannot make too much of this point. Continue to teach and preach and emphasize the Spirit Filled Life. It is not only essential to a fruitful life, but it is the key to abundant living. Your people need, and must have this, to be soul winners. With it, you will have more than a soul winning church! You will have a deeply spiritual church!
There comes a time of breakthrough in all this. It is a time when “everyone in the city seems to become a prospect”. Suddenly, prospects are everywhere, and the whole city takes note that something has happened in your church.
If you live among the people in your community, in their homes, and dare to reach out to them, even in such places as taverns, they will respect you for it. They will look toward you with trust. They will even begin making themselves available to the church for spiritual help.
The whole climate about you will begin to take on a New Testament atmosphere. Christians will begin to expect God to do great things in every realm of their lives, their community, and their church. There can even come a time when the Christians will expect to see souls being won to Christ every week of the year, and will be willing to lay their own lives on the altar to achieve this as a reality for their church, 52 weeks a year.
This article “The Science Of Sustained Evangelism” written by Gene Edwards is excerpted from his book How To Have A Soul Winning Church.