The problem in every church seems to center around visitation. Other pastors are constantly asking me, “How do you get your people to visit?” “How can you get folks on the field?” They are always trying to find new methods and new ways to encourage people to visit for Jesus. Following are some suggestions for the pastor on this subject.
1. Make Every Service Evangelistic. If people go out to win souls to Christ, and bring lost people to a service in which there is not a spirit of evangelism, those who visit will be discouraged. It is the pastor’s job to be sure that the services are evangelistic and not disappointing. Many times people will visit, bring a lost person to the service and then the pastor preaches a sermon on budgetraising or some other similar subject and the lost person has no conviction whatsoever. Someone has said that when Jesus wanted some money to pay His taxes, He found the money in the fish’s mouth. It seems that it would be wise for us to spend our time getting fish. When they are caught and converted, then the money will be in their mouths.
To say the least, every service should end with an evangelistic appeal to let the sinner know that others are concerned about him, and to let the soul winner know that any time he brings a lost person to the services, there will be a sincere appeal made for his salvation.
2. Visit and Let the People Know It. Each pastor and each leader of the church should be a personal soul winner. If you are not a soul winner, you cannot train your people to be soul winners. If you do not visit regularly, you cannot train your people to visit regularly. Be sure that your people are conscious of the fact that you are a perennial visitor and soul winner. To be such a person will be exceedingly difficult. The devil will block you at every hand to discourage your regular visitation program. I would suggest that as a pastor or special worker you set aside at least two days each week in which you do nothing but visit prospects, and let nothing except an emergency hinder your visitation program. When your people know that you are a fervent, consistent soul winner, then you will be leading them and not pushing them.
3. Make Visitation Seem the Most Important Thing in the Church. Many people think that being a deacon is more important than being a soul winner. That is not true. Many people think that being a Sunday school or youth worker is more important than being a soul winner. That is not true, either. The greatest job in the world is the job of bringing people to Christ. If the pastor will magnify the job of soul winning above the other jobs of seeming importance in the church, then the people will get the idea that soul winning is the most important thing in the church.
4. Choose Your Teachers from Those Who Visit. Show your people that you believe soul winning is important by selecting your teachers and officers from those who visit regularly. This will encourage visitation on the part of those who are not teachers.
5. Do Not Work People on “Odds and Ends” Too Much.
Many people are so busy working around the church doing such jobs as carpenter work or decorating, that they feel this is their service for God. I realize that many churches must be built by the members, and that is well and good. It is always good for a plumber to use his profession and talent at the church. It is good for carpenters and electricians to use their talents at the church -but keep before the people the fact that this is not their complete service for Christ. Keep reminding them that Christ expects them to be soul winners and witnesses apart from their other work at the church. Many of us have taught our people the wrong interpretation of the parable of the talents. We say that if all you can do is shake hands at the door, then do it the best you can. Or, if all that you can do is put flowers in the vase, do it the best you can. Dear friend, when Jesus gave us the commission to go into all the world and teach all nations, He was giving it to each of us. Every Christian should be a witness. Certainly we should use our talents at the church, yet the commission is still true. Each of God’s people is to be a soul winner. Let us not discourage our people from doing the main thing by encouraging them too much in doing other things.
6. Have a Soul Winning and Visitation Course Annually.
At least once each year in our church we have a course on soul winning and visitation, teaching our people how to win souls to Christ in a simple, straightforward way. This should be done, I believe, from the Bible, with no other textbook, unless it is used only as a supplement.
After the first year you will need to provide two courses-one for advanced soul winners and one for beginners. We have made it a practice not to worry about awards at the end of the course. The greatest award or examination that one could ever receive or pass would be to see someone converted through his efforts. The examination is on the battlefield for God, and the awards will be given at the Judgment Seat.
Make this a practical study course in soul winning. A following chapter will be given to soul winning, and will be a good chapter to consult in teaching the course.
7. Get Committals on Wednesday Night. Our visitation program is on Thursday. Since it is, we encourage our people at the midweek service on Wednesday night to come to visitation on Thursday. Many times we stress it more than at other times by asking the people to raise their hands or stand, and promise to come. If they will commit themselves on Wednesday night, usually they will come on Thursday night.
If your visitation is on Monday or Tuesday, then perhaps a committal on Sunday night would be in order.
8. Do Not Over Stress It Every Week. It could become a ritual. People can become so used to hearing you stress a certain point that it becomes habit and they scarcely hear what you say; hence, do not stress it to the same extent each week. Stress it vehemently periodically, then just slightly between times.
9. When You Know of Someone Who Is Ready to Be Saved, Give His Name to Someone Other than Yourself on Visitation Night. When you know of someone who wants to be saved, and he is ready to be saved, and you feel sure that he can be won-send someone else to visit him rather than going yourself. This will give the one who goes a blessing and cement him into the visitation program of the church.
10. After You Win Someone, Send Another by to See Him before Sunday. After you have won someone to Christ yourself, as a leader in the church, why not go to one of your people whom you wish to encourage and give him the name of the person? Ask him to go by and visit the person whom you have won. Then, on Sunday when the person you won walks the aisle to make profession, it will be a blessing to the person who went to visit him, and encourage him to continue in the visitation program of the church. This may also prove successful with folks who have voiced their intentions of moving their membership. Send some of the members by to visit them. This will give them a feeling that they have had a part in reaching this family, and will give them a blessing.
11. Have Different Persons Go Visiting with You. As a leader in the church you can train soul winners by inviting people who are not soul winners to go with you in witnessing. As they see you win souls, they have themselves been instructed and taught how to win someone. The best soul winners we have in our church are people who have been with the pastor or some other soul winner and have personally seen the miracle happen.
12. Opening Assembly Program. One of the most effective ways to train soul winners is to show them. When you have won a soul during the week, have that person come with you to the opening assembly of Sunday school or the youth group and present a “skit” for the people. Show exactly what happened as you won the Person, from start to finish. That will give your people firsthand information about how to win a soul.
13. When a Member Wins a Soul Include This Fact in Your Sermon. When you hear of one of your members winning a soul to Christ, give him just praise and reward in a public way by telling the people-either in announcing it, or including it in your sermon. Or, when the person comes down the aisle, let the soul winner come and stand beside the convert, and give due reward and credit to the soul winner.
14. Do Not Wear the People Out. There is such a thing as getting people tired in the service of the Lord. Certainly we should never tire of service for the Lord-but we can give our people so many things, including a number of nonessentials, that they can fail to be good witnesses for the Lord Jesus. If a church program is kept simple (teach the Bible, pray, visit) without too many “frills” on the side, then the people will not be so worn out they do not have time to visit.
15. Give the People Some Nights to Stay at Home.
Many of our people are so busy doing other things that they feel they simply must have some nights at home, so they take the night at home which is usually given to visitation. It is my observation that if people know the pastor is trying to let them have some nights at home, then they will give the church more nights of service for Christ.
We have found it advisable to have two nights each week called “Stay at Home Nights,” or “Lights Out at the Church Nights.” Tuesday and Friday nights are good. We encourage our people not to go to any class meetngs, parties or any other church gatherings on these two nights, except during revivals or Bible conferences.