The Lord has commanded us to spread the good news from our local area, to our nation, and even to the ends of the earth (Matt. 28:19, 20; Acts 1:8). It is also evident that although most Christians desire to obey in this important area, we are not nearly as effective as we ought to be. Many churches have abandoned weekly soul-winning programs, perhaps believing that door-todoor evangelism is not effective today. After all, it is rightly observed that you can be faithful in soul winning without going door-to-door. Furthermore, a church can have a regular door-to-door soul-winning program and still not be passionate about winning the lost. It is also true that in our culture people are reluctant to open the door to a stranger and that cults have turned many people off to such evangelistic efforts. In spite of these realities, I would encourage a renewed evaluation of the importance of such a program.
I have been active in my local church for the last ten years. During that time I have been consistently exhorted to be faithful to my Biblical responsibility to be a soul winner. A consistent organized outreach program was established more than five years ago, and that program has been a tremendous benefit to helping me be obedient to the command to spread the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
If it is so clear from Scripture that we must go and win the lost, then why abandon door-to-door evangelism? It appears that emphasis on “lifestyle” evangelism, special evangelistic services, and “needs-based” programs for outreach have been determined to be a more expedient means to spread the gospel. I have been involved in various programs specifically targeting children, teens, men, women, singles, college and career age groups, as well as Friend Days, weeks of evangelistic services, telephone campaigns, and many other good programs. I am thankful for these efforts, but I have found that a regular soulwinning program, where a specific time is set aside each week to go out and seek the lost, enhances all of those other means and provides other benefits as well.
Although most Christians intend to share the gospel with their neighbors, co-workers, and acquaintances, good intentions often succumb to the distractions of everyday life. For me, a specific time each week builds in the discipline to ensure that at least once per week I confront someone with the truth of his eternal destiny and his need for salvation by faith alone. Yes, we need to be ready for every divine opportunity, but like prayer and Bible study, without a specific time planned for these vital disciplines, they can get lost in the busyness of our lives.
Many Christians are fearful about what to say or are afraid of facing questions they cannot answer, while many feel they are simply too shy. Teaching and training for personal evangelism can be a great help in overcoming these obstacles and should be a prerequisite to establishing a soul-winning program. However, I have found that soul-winning courses are a great starting place but fall far short of making soul winners. I would expect this could be analogous to the green recruit, fresh out of military boot camp. No one expects him to be as effective as a veteran soldier. The same is true in spiritual warfare. In a local church outreach program, seasoned soul winners can help train others, teaching them the skills and pitfalls that come with experience. This is simply discipleship. What better way for our children, teens, and new converts to learn to present the gospel than by participating in the trenches? Beyond overcoming the fear of how to present the gospel, the reality of the plight of the lost will become much more real seeing people face to face. The Lord had compassion on the lost as He looked on them (Matt. 9:36); do we expect to get a lasting burden for souls in the confines of our church and homes?
Certainly the merit of training in the trenches is important, but the question is, does door-to-door evangelism really work today? That will depend on how you measure results. If the only measure of a soul-winning program is the number of professions tallied on a given night, then you may get discouraged and abandon the program. Exactly how many eternal souls would have to be saved to justify the effort? Any program that does not encourage regular witnessing can allow more lost sinners to slip into eternity.
Furthermore, we must remember no matter what means we use for evangelism, it is the Holy Spirit who provides the harvest. But we must remember our calling. We are called to obey and to bring glory to God. If those who go out each week are moved to higher planes of faithfulness in prayer, in Bible study, and in devotion to the Lord, then certainly we have done a good work! Many of my brothers and sisters in the Lord have been moved to memorize Scripture, to study the Word to answer difficult questions, and to pray for lost sheep they have witnessed to.
In addition, there is confidence that comes with testing. I have found that I am much quicker to spot opportunities to share the gospel in my workplace and neighborhood and even find it much more natural to do so now that I have experience behind me. Often I have been amazed at how the Spirit of the Living God helps my infirmities and gives me the right verse, principle, or illustration to share when I have been standing face to face with a stranger. What an encouragement that the Lord can use “even” me!
Although we are not pragmatists, there are other benefits as well. I realize that there are souls with whom I will come into contact through doorto- door evangelism that I might never otherwise reach. They don’t work with me, live near me, and have no interest in visiting my church. Often I think of my own lost family members; the door I knock on could be your father, mother, aunt, uncle, or unsaved co-worker. On many occasions I have encountered people who told me that someone else has been sharing the gospel with them. I realized that another believer is praying for that soul, and I could be the one who by the grace of God reaps the harvest!
I continue to learn and be encouraged by my soul-winning partners. An honest critique after a call can help hone my approach and presentation. After all, the gospel is an offense to unbelievers, but we don’t want to be offensive because of how we presented that gospel. As iron sharpens iron, a faithful soul-winning partner can encourage me to be more effective. We are driven to pray for each other, and the fellowship enjoyed while doing the Lord’s work is priceless.
I cannot claim that vast multitudes have been saved through our organized soul-winning program, but what if God does pour out a revival? Historically, in revivals God has used long-buried truth to bring lost souls to repentance. Will we ever know the full impact of the seeds we plant this side of heaven? Will God not bless the church that is faithful in carrying the good news to the lost around them?
(Originally published in FrontLine • September/October, 2001. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)
At the time of original publication, Darryl D. Fournier was a production manager in a manufacturing company residing in Windsor, Connecticut.