Everything we do in the church should have behind it the underlying passion that men are lost and must be saved if they go to Heaven. Soul-winning churches must be made up of soul-winning ingredients. One cannot use pink and white brick in a building and have a red brick building. A housewife cannot use sand, red clay and mud and make an angel food cake. Neither can our churches leave off soul-winning ingredients and have in the end soul-winning churches.
Let us notice the necessary ingredients if one is to have a soul-winning church.
1. A Soul-Winning Pastor
It is utter folly to think that a soul-winning church could exist without a soul-winning pastor. Someone has said that everything rises and falls on leadership. If a church is to be a warm, evangelistic, soul-winning institution, it must be led by a soul winning pastor. Would God that every pulpit committee in America when seeking a pastor would settle for nothing less than a man who is an active soul winner.
“Is he married?”
“Does he have curly hair?”
“What seminary did he attend?”
“How old is he?”
“How many children does he have?”
“Is he handsome?”
These and many other questions are asked concerning the choosing of a new pastor when a pulpit is vacant. Oh, may God help us to ask, “Is he a soul winner?”
2. Soul-Winning Deacons
If a church is going to be a soul-winning institution, it must of necessity have soul-winning ingredients. The second of these ingredients must be soul-winning deacons. Far too many churches consider the financial standing of a man when choosing him to be a deacon. Being a businessman does nor make a man qualified to be a deacon. Being a successful politician, an influential banker, or a wealthy financier should give a man no advantage at all over any other man when it comes to choosing a deacon.
Literally hundreds of churches do not have one active soul winner on the board, and yet, hope somehow that this kind of an ingredient, added to others of similar weaknesses, will in the end bring a soul-winning church. This, of course, is foolishness.
At the First Baptist Church in Hammond, we have sixty fine, consecrated deacons. These men are not chosen because of their financial standing, their social position, or educational background, but rather because of their love for the Word of God and the compassion for lost souls. Let us choose soul-winning deacons.
3. A Soul-Winning Staff
The idea of hiring specialists for a staff is a dangerous one. To be sure, a music director should know music. A secretary should be able to type. The youth director should have a heart for young people. And the custodian should use a broom. But this should not end their responsibilities.
At First Baptist Church, we require every staff member to be a soul winner and spend at least four hours a week in personal soul winning. We would not want someone leading our choir in “Send the Light,” “Rescue the Perishing,” “Where Be Leads Me I Will Follow,” and other great songs who is not a soul winner. I would not want anyone typing my letters who was not a soul winner. How foolish it is to think that we can hire a pastor who is not a soul winner, ordain deacons because of their community standing, employ a staff of specialists and end up with a soul-winning church. If this is true, then two plus two equals eighteen.
4. Soul-Winning Members
According to the Great Commission, we are to teach new converts to go and get others converted. How sad it is that in many churches it is years before a Christian knows how to be a soul winner. And many a Christian, it is sad to say, never learns to be a soul winner. He simply is not taught. He is taught church doctrine, the Articles of Faith, and even church history, but not soul winning. Yet, many churches guilty of this error would consider themselves soul-winning churches, or at least desirous of becoming so.
At our new members’ reception, when we welcome new members into our church family, we give them a copy of my book, Let’s Go Soul Winning. This gives them a step-by-step set of instructions as to how to win a soul to Christ. The following Sunday night they are taught how to win souls. This is the first thing that our new members learn.
It is not unusual for a person to be winning souls to Christ within the first week or two after he is saved and many of our converts will win a dozen or more in the first month. This is the New Testament pattern.
The woman at the well of Sychar in John chapter 4 did not wait until she had a Bible institute diploma before going to Sychar and bringing people to Jesus. Andrew did not wait for a seminary degree before bringing Peter to Jesus, in John 1. Let us teach our new Christians how to become soul winners, and have a soul-winning membership.
5. Soul-Winning Worship
A pastor chosen because of his good looks, a deacon board chosen because of financial position, a staff chosen to be a group of experts and specialists, an untrained membership, and a ritualistic, formal Sunday morning worship service, do not equal a soul-winning church. If we are to have the pie, we must have the ingredients. If we reach the result, we must use the means.
Perhaps nothing hinders soul winning any more in our churches than our misconception of what worship really is. The Old Testament idea that God lives in the church house and that we come by to see Him every Sunday, making us enter the church as we would a morgue, and behave ourselves as at a funeral, is certainly discouraging to New Testament evangelism and personal soul winning. If we plan to have Billy Sunday results, we had better have Billy Sunday services. If we plan to have an evangelistic end, we had better use evangelistic means.
Now it may be that you do not want an evangelistic church. If this be true, then, you certainly have a right to use non-evangelistic methods. But for one to say he wants an evangelistic church and use methods foreign to such results is inconsistency. Let us have dignity in our services. Let them be planned decently and in order. Let there be true Bible reverence, but not the ritualistic order of service we have borrowed from Catholicism which tends to deaden our services, drive away the common man, and lessen soul winning and evangelistic fervor.
6. A Soul-Winning Mission Program
If we are to build soul-winning churches, we must build them abroad as well as at home. It is not enough to give great sums of money to foreign missions and not see to it that the foreign missionaries are winning souls. Often times a church will boast concerning the thousands of dollars it gives to foreign missions, and will actually get fewer souls saved for its money than a church that gives much less to real warm-hearted evangelistic missionaries. We should see to it the kind of work our missionaries do overseas is typical of the kind of work we are trying to do at home.
For a number of years now we have required each missionary supported by the First Baptist Church to fill out a questionnaire annually. He must sign a statement as to his doctrinal soundness, personal separation from the world, and loyalty to the First Baptist Church. He must give a report of his soul-winning and evangelistic efforts. A missionary who is not majoring on soul winning is dropped from our budget. Of course, we do not leave him stranded on the field. If he is completely dependent upon our support, we wait until his next furlough. I am simply saying that every ingredient of a soul-winning church should be a soul-winning ingredient if we are to have the desired end.
7. Soul-Winning Music
Few things in our churches have done as much to steal the spirit of evangelism as has our music. If one would have Billy Sunday results, perhaps he should try Homer Rodeheaver music. If one would want the results of Moody, perhaps he should sing the songs of Sankey. The kind of music that tends to build soul-winning churches is that kind which has been tested and tried in revivals – the kind which the people know and love; the kind which moves the heart and not the head, the kind whose words bring out the deep truths of the Word of God.
We use no anthems in the First Baptist Church. It is not because we do not like them but because we feel they are not conducive to soul winning and evangelism. We sing the songs such as “Rescue the Perishing,” “Blessed Assurance,” “How Firm a Foundation,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” “There Is Power in the Blood,” “At Calvary,” “At the Cross,” “Send the Light,” etc. Yes, these songs are sung on Sunday morning as well as Sunday evening. We do not delegate the Sunday morning service to God the Father and the Sunday evening service to Jesus Christ. We use the same type music in all of our services, believing that the Gospel should be preached on Sunday morning as well as Sunday night, and that Gospel music should be used if Gospel results are desired.
One danger here is for the pastor to leave the music entirely up to the music director. I do not mean that the music director should have no freedom. However, I do mean that the pastor should realize it is his right to have veto power. The general type music should be approved by the pastor. It would do many pastors and churches good to reconsider their musical program and see that it is the type music that will bring soul-winning results.
8. A Soul-Winning Invitation
There is an old spiritual that says, ” Ev’rybody talkin’ about Heaven ain’t going there.” We could paraphrase it and say, “A lot of folks talking about soul winning ain’t doing it.”
If a church is to be a soul-winning church, there should be a fifty-two-week-a-year consistency in its program of soul winning. Invitations should be given both morning and evening and a burden and compassion should be evident at every invitation. I fear the trend toward simply asking interested people to seethe pastor after the service, where no invitation hymn is sung and no sincere heart appeal is made for people to come to Jesus Christ.
Let us train soul winners to work with converts. Let us study carefully the invitations of the great revival meetings of the past. If we would have revival results perennially, let us have evangelistic invitations regularly.
9. An Evangelistic Budget
Check the budget of the average church and you will be surprised how little money is spent for soul-winning purposes. Oh, yes, we say we believe in soul winning, and at The same time spend our money for other purposes. As we draw up our budgets, let us support schools that train soul winners, missionaries who are soul winners, local mission projects that are after souls, and pay the salaries of staff members who win souls. Include in the budget such soul-winning ministries as bus routes, rescue mission, tracts, etc.
l0. A Soul-Winning Schedule
I have reviewed and read many church calendars. After reading them it is not hard to understand why our churches are not soul-winning institutions. Check the average schedule of activities for a typical church. It will include a mixed bowling league, the men’s soft ball team, the ladies aid, the children’s party, the youth skating party. See how many times you see anything mentioned concerning a soul-winning activity.
The poorest attended meetings of the average church are the visitation meetings. Ten times as many people will work in the church kitchen as will work on the church field. We pastors certainly find ourselves guilty as we plan our church programs. We preach on soul winning and schedule it right out of the church. We have plenty of time for all of our meetings and plenty of people attend, but so little time for soul winning. Yet we preach on soul winning and say we want a soul-winning church.
We want to choose a pastor because of the vocabulary, deacons because they are rich, have members that have not been taught, budgets that bypass evangelism, ritualistic worship, long-haired music, brief invitations, and using those as ingredients, pull out of the oven a soul-winning church. Brethren, it simply will not work.
11. Soul-Winning Organization
Here is a sore spot and a hindrance to building a great soul-winning church. Laymen who work hard all day and have a limited number of hours to serve the Lord or the church find themselves using these hours in unnecessary committee activity and finding themselves with no hours left to go soul winning.
It does not take a committee of five to put the flowers on the Lord’s Supper table every Sunday morning. It does not take a committee of ten to tell the music director what the special should be on Sunday. It does not take a committee of three to put an ad in the newspaper every Saturday. Why couldn’t these same people organize soul-winning committees, rescue mission committees, tract committees, house-to-house committees, visitation committees, etc., thereby utilizing what spare time the laymen do have in the fulfilling of the Great Commission.
We have trained churches full of specialists who attend every meeting except the soul-winning meeting; do church work, and yet, not the work that Jesus called us to do; and have a form of godliness but know nothing of the power thereof. The average church is so bogged down with too much organization that the people simply do not have time to carry out the Great Commission in their individual lives. Yet, we wonder why we do not have stalwart people; we wonder why the prayer meeting attendance is down; we wonder why the number of baptisms are down. We weep, and oftentimes even pray, over our lack of soul-winning fervor and at the same time organize soul winning out the back door of the church. Brethren, our people simply do not have time to win souls when they are committed to committees that have little or no purpose for existence.
At the First Baptist Church in Hammond we have helped to solve this problem by having many deacons and choosing each of our church officers from the board of deacons. Our board of deacons meet regularly and when our deacons are in session, every committee and officer in our church is present. There is no such thing, then, as a week-night committee meeting in our church. We operate on the democratic principle. The deacons are advisors, the church votes the decisions for the business matters on the floor of the church, and the membership is trained to do the thing that Jesus left us here to do.
12. Soul-Winning Liabilities
To be sure there are many liabilities that come with a soul-winning church. A soul-winning church may be a little noisier than the average church because it will have a lot of poor people there who are unaccustomed to coming to church. It will take them a while to learn how to behave as they should. Then a soul-winning church will also have more dropouts than a church that is not evangelistic. The more babies you have, the more likely you are to lose one.
The same is true in a home. If a couple wants to have clean walls, no dirty diapers, no baby clothes hanging on the line, no burping on a clean dress, no broken vases, no fingerprints on the mirrors, and no hand prints on the towels, then it is best they have no children. With children comes these liabilities. But blessed be God, they are worth every one of them! So are the souls of men worth the price we pay.