Baptize More Converts
I. Find New Avenues of Prospects
II. Make Every Service Evangelistic
III. Baptize Converts Immediately, Each Sunday Morning and Evening
IV. Pastor and People Set Personal Goals for Soul Winning
V. Bathe the Church in Soul Winning
VI. Have a Soul-Winning Course Annually
VII. Good Soul Winners Take Others Along to Learn
VIII. Give Invitations Periodically in Each Sunday School Class
IX. An Inside Church Census
X. Include a Mention of Baptism in Most Sermons
Introduction (by John R. Rice)
The cover picture
shows Dr. Jack Hyles baptizing a man won to Christ in the First Baptist
Church of Hammond, Indiana, where he is pastor. Last year there were more
than 2800 public professions of faith in Christ in that church and Dr. Hyles
baptized 1410 of these converts.
On the day of Pentecost at Jerusalem
we are told, "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the
same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41).
And Acts 5:42, speaking of the same group of Christians at Jerusalem, says,
"And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and
preach Jesus Christ." And Acts 2:47 tells us after Pentecost, "And the Lord
added to the church daily such as should be saved."
So it is proper for a local New
Testament church to be in the daily business of winning souls, and such a
church should baptize converts at least every week.
Records indicate that up until 1966,
only about 20 churches in America baptized as many as 200 converts a year.
The largest non-Catholic denomination in America baptized about 11 1/2
converts per church averaging about 365 members or about 1 convert to every
30 or 31 members. Other groups with smaller churches baptized fewer per
church. Some smaller groups baptized more. Yet a half dozen fundamental
Baptist churches baptized from 350 to more than 1700 converts per year. How
do they win so many souls in a year's time?
Dr. Hyles here tells how any pastor
and church not baptizing hundreds of converts in a year can set out to win
and baptize many more converts than ever before by God's blessing.
Not all converts will be baptized.
Some with an ingrained prejudice are not at once ready for baptism. Some go
to other denominations and some live far and thus prefer some other church.
Sometimes little children are saved and it is wise to counsel with their
fathers and mothers and to make sure that they understand the plan of
salvation and are definitely assured of their faith in Christ. Thus not all
converts will be baptized in a strongly evangelistic church that wins them.
Yet all Christians ought to be
baptized and the number of converts baptized is the most fair and reliable
measure of the success of a church in following Christ's Great Commission
to, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe
all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway,
even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28:19,20).
Scores of churches are setting out to
win and baptize 200 converts or more in a year's time. We thank Dr. Hyles
for suggesting methods to help us in this holy business of fulfilling
John R. Rice
Let's Baptize More Converts (by Dr.
Jesus?" asked a beginner Sunday school teacher.
After a few moments of deliberation
little Johnny raised his hand and answered, "John the Baptist did."
"That's right," replied the teacher.
"Now another question: Who baptized John the Baptist?" This was a real
stumper. Finally, after much deliberation, little Johnny's hand went up
again. "All right, Johnny, who did baptize John the Baptist?"
"Brother Hyles did," replied the boy.
This took place in a little Country
church in East Texas in 1949. I was the pastor of the little country church.
The teacher was one of our fine teachers, and Johnny was one of our beginner
boys. Johnny said a great deal about his pastor in that little statement. He
was saying, "My pastor must have baptized almost everybody because he
baptizes so much." He was also saying, "My pastor puts a great stress on
baptism and even John the Baptist would have been pleased to have Brother
Hyles baptize him."
Johnny was right in one respect.
Brother Hyles does place a big emphasis on baptism. To be sure, baptism is
not necessary to salvation, but it is necessary to obedience. There are
several reasons why it is important. The first is, baptism pictures the
death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We should tell the world
immediately upon salvation that we believe in these basic truths.
Then, baptism also pictures what has
happened to us at salvation. It is somewhat like an X-ray. An X-ray reveals
internal conditions to the human eye; baptism reveals salvation to the human
eye. One says to the world, "Look, let me show you outwardly what happened
to me inwardly. As I go down into the water, I am showing you that I have
buried the old life; and as I rise from the water. I am showing you that I
have risen to walk in the newness of life. I am a new creature and I want
you to see it."
Then, baptism also identifies us with
Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.
Baptism is one of the few things that
we can do exactly like Jesus did. Oh, yes, we are to strive to be like Him.
We are to follow His example. The first and best way for a Christian to do
this is by obeying His command of baptism.
Jesus places a great deal of emphasis
on baptism. This is shown so vividly in the inclusion of this ordinance in
the Great Commission. Had it not been important to Him, He would not have
included it in what we commonly call "The Great Commission."
In March of 1965, I went on a tour of
Bible Lands. It was my privilege to baptize four people in the Jordan River.
We walked out into the Jordan River just where the Sea of Galilee flows into
the Jordan. With the Sea of Galilee in the background and the Promise Land
framing the scene, I, like John the Baptist, baptized in the Jordan. As the
five of us walked into the river, a group of nineteen believers sang:
stormy banks I stand,
And cast a
To Canaan's fair
and happy land,
I am hound for the promised land ...
I am bound for
the promised land
0 who will come
and go with me?
I am bound for
the promised land.
What a thrill it was to baptize in the
It is, however, my privilege to enjoy
that same thrill Sunday after Sunday, as newborn babes in Christ follow the
command of the Saviour in believers' baptism. It is my desire in the next
few pages to help pastors and churches around the world increase their
number of converts and the number of baptisms. May God use these remarks to
fulfill that purpose.
I. FIND NEW AVENUES OF PROSPECTS
When most of us
think of prospects, we limit our thoughts to new families moving in our
area, or those found in a church census, etc. There are, however, thousands
of people who go practically unnoticed, uncared for, and, sad to say,
unloved by the average church. Now to notice a few of these:
1. The Retarded and Educable Slow
Recently, at First
Baptist Church, we became aware of the many children who are retarded, and,
therefore, unable to sit in the average Sunday school class and be helped.
This led us to start a class for children twelve and under who are mentally
behind their age. It wasn't long until twelve to fifteen were attending
How did this help increase our
converts? In two ways: First, the fact that we had such a class made it
possible for the entire families to come to Sunday school who were
previously unable to do so. We have had mothers, fathers, brothers and
sisters saved because there was a class for the educable slow in our church.
In the second place, it is surprising
how many children who are twelve years of age and are somewhat retarded
still can comprehend the plan of salvation. We have a little fellow who is
about eleven and has the mind of a child about six or seven who understood
clearly what it means to be a sinner and that Jesus died on the cross for
sinners, and gladly received Him as his Saviour. It was my joy recently to
baptize him and share with his family this happy occasion.
This class grew so rapidly that God
burdened us for a class for older retarded people. Now we have about fifteen
older ones attending this class. Think of this! Approximately thirty
retarded people are attending our Sunday school. The average family has four
members. That means there are three others in each family who now can attend
Sunday school also. This could be an increase of one hundred twenty in
Sunday school attendance and many more conversions and baptisms.
2. A Class Taught in a Foreign
We found that in our
area there are many people who speak only Spanish. Hundreds of them attend
no Sunday school whatsoever. God gave us a fine soul-winning lady who speaks
Spanish fluently. She now teaches the Sunday school lesson in Spanish each
Sunday. Scores of Spanish-speaking people have been saved from this new
While in Ottawa, Canada, one pastor
said, "This would apply to us. We have many French-speaking people in
Ottawa. A Sunday school class taught in French would, no doubt, enable us to
reach many people that we have not been reaching."
3. A Work With the Deaf
It is unbelievable
how many deaf people there are in the average city. The Sunday before this
writing we had forty-three deaf people in our Sunday school. The lesson is
taught in sign language and then the deaf come to the regular preaching
service and have the message interpreted to them, during the service, by the
deaf interpreter. We have many saved and baptized from this ministry.
Think for a minute what we have
already done in reaching just the retarded, the Spanish-speaking and the
deaf. If we could reach one hundred twenty people in the families of the
retarded children, forty-three in deaf class and fifteen or twenty in the
Spanish-speaking class, we have increased our Sunday school by nearly two
hundred and have found avenues of reaching many more for Christ.
4. Work With the Shut-ins
One lady of our
church goes into the homes of each shut-in once a month. She takes a tape
recorder and plays one of the pastor's messages and a personal greeting from
the pastor. She will take some little gift from the church, and spend a few
minutes meeting the spiritual needs of the shut-in. When the shut-in is won
to Christ, we provide an ambulance, if needed, or a wheel chair, a hospital
bed and any other need that will enable them to come to the services. We
carry them bodily to the dressing room and baptize them. Shouldn't the
shut-ins have the privilege or being baptized after they are saved?
Certainly they should.
It is often necessary to have a
private service for them. It is not too unusual for us to have a shut-in
baptized in the presence of the family and few friends on a week day or a
5. New Buses
would help to increase one's Sunday attendance and the number of conversions
and baptisms more than starting bus routes. At the First Baptist Church of
Hammond, we now operate thirty-seven routes bringing between one thousand
and thirteen hundred people to Sunday school and church every Sunday. Though
we will not go into the organizational part of the bus ministry, and it
takes organization and hard work, let me stress the importance of adding new
buses and new routes. People who come on a new bus route are net gain. Many
churches could baptize hundreds more a year by adding buses and bus routes.
6. Poor Children
We have found in our
area scores of little children from poor homes who actually never eat a real
good hot meal. We have started a Sunday school class for them, and at noon
on Sunday feed them a hot meal. Of course, this is limited just to the poor.
We are now having between fifty and a hundred in this class. Many of these
boys and girls only get one good meal a week. And while they do, they get
the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
There are many avenues of reaching
prospects. Such things as rescue mission work, work in the rest homes,
canvassing trailer courts, work with the blind, etc., will bring eternal
rewards and increase the churches' number of conversions and baptisms.
II. MAKE EVERY SERVICE EVANGELISTIC
AND ADVERTIZE YOUR CHURCH AS AN EVANGELISTIC CHURCH
It is extremely
important that the entire area be conscious that your churchis after sinners
and aware of the fact that at any given service you are trying to reach
people for Christ. This will encourage them to bring their loved ones and
friends to your services if they want to get them saved. Your church should
be known as an evangelistic headquarters in the city.
Let me illustrate. A lady in our city
who attends another church recently called me on the telephone telling me
that her husband was coming to our services that evening. Then she continued
to say that her church was having a musical program, and her husband finally
consented to go to a service one time. She knew that the First Baptist
Church would try to get him saved. She knew that no musical program ever
takes the place of preaching in our Sunday services. She could count on it.
She brought him: he was saved. He joined her church after he was saved and
is now attending faithfully. Scores of people do this each year.
One lady called me on the phone and
said, "I attend another church, but my brother is dying in the hospital and
I want you to try to win him." I asked her why she didn't call her own
pastor. She replied, "He does not specialize in those cases." But she knew I
did. So we reached him for Christ before he died.
This will enable you to be a blessing
to other churches as well as your own. It is vitally important for an
evangelistic church to be known as such. And even if a sermon is directed to
Christians, there should be a strong evangelistic appeal at the end of the
message inviting people to come to Jesus Christ.
Now, we do have musical programs, but
they are on week nights and announced as such. We do have Christmas programs
and Christian movies, but they are at times other than the announced public
preaching service. We always have the preaching of the Word of God and a
gospel invitation in our Sunday services.
Suppose that a person prays for a lost
loved one. Finally, his prayer is answered and the loved one agrees to
attend the services. Suppose that this particular service is one where no
invitation is given and no evangelistic appeal is offered. What a tragedy
this would be! Now I am not saying that everything in the church should be
evangelism, but I am saying that everything in the church should ultimately
end in the salvation of souls, and that people should know they can bring
their lost loved ones to the services at any time to have them hear the
message of salvation and have an opportunity to be converted.
III. BAPTIZE BOTH SUNDAY MORNING AND
SUNDAY EVENING AND BAPTIZE THE CONVERTS IMMEDIATELY UPON SALVATION
We should make it
easy for people to be baptized. It is a step of obedience. It is the first
step of obedience after salvation. Many churches could double their baptisms
simply by baptizing on Sunday morning as well as Sunday evening and by
having the baptistry filled at all times and by having necessary preparation
for such services.
This is not foreign to New Testament
practice. In fact, in the New Testament, baptism immediately followed
salvation. Acts 2:41 says, "Then they that gladly received his word were
baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand
souls." Notice the words "the same day." Hence, on Pentecost the converts
were baptized immediately.
Now turn to Acts 2:47. " Praising God,
and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church
daily such as should be saved." Notice that the converts were being added to
the church daily. Since the converts were being baptized before being added
to the church, this would lead us to believe that they continued baptizing
converts immediately upon salvation.
In Acts 8:37,38 we read, " And Philip
said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered
and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded
the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both
Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him." Now here was a man whom Philip
had never seen before. He was of another race and another country. He was
just traveling through, yet he was baptized immediately.
Now turn to Acts 9:17,18, "And Ananias
went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said,
Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as
thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be
filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it
had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was
baptized." The Apostle Paul likewise was baptized soon after his salvation.
We also find the same thing in Acts
10:47,48. "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized,
which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to
be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain
days." In the house of Cornelius Peter had preached. Many had been saved.
Now they are ready for a baptismal service.
In Acts 16:14.15 we read. "And a
certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira,
which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she
attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was
baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me
to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she
constrained us." Here again we have a convert. Here is a lady that perhaps
Paul had never seen before, yet she was saved and immediately baptized. In
this same chapter we have a similar story. Look at Acts 16:33, "And he took
them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized,
he and all his, straightway." Note the words "the same hour."
Believing that our church should
follow the New Testament pattern, the First Baptist Church of Hammond has
practiced this for a number of years. To do so, however, there are certain
provisions that must be made.
1. Clothing. The ladies in the
church keep us supplied with baptismal robes or smocks for the new converts
to wear. We have all sizes and also keep a generous supply of underclothing
for the converts. This enables them to be baptized in the same service when
they make their public profession of faith.
2. Towels. Scores of towels are
kept available for the converts to use. This means that the convert has to
bring nothing with him for baptism. He may be baptized, as was the case in
the Book of Acts, on the "same day."
3. Hairdryers. We keep a
generous supply of hairdryers available (especially for the ladies) to avoid
catching colds, etc.
4. Caps. We provide plastic
caps for the ladies with which to cover their hair if they prefer not to get
their hair wet.
5. Helpers. There are many
people involved in making an immediate baptismal service possible. First,
there are folks who work at the altar, talking to the new converts and,
after they have trusted Jesus and are assured of salvation, explaining to
them that they can be baptized immediately. These workers also point them to
the door leading to the stairs and the baptismal room. Just inside the door
there is a young man who is waiting for the converts pointing to the stairs
leading to the baptistry. Then at the top of the stairs there is a young man
to show them which is the ladies' room and which is the men's room. Inside
the dressing room there are little stalls, about the size of a telephone
booth, where the people dress for baptism. Three to five ladies work in the
ladies' room, and three to five men work in the men's room passing out the
towels, smocks, etc., and helping the converts in preparation for baptism.
Then there is a person at the top of the steps leading down into the
baptistry who explains to them how to be baptized before they enter the
water. Then there are three of us down in the water. While I am baptizing a
man, one of the men In the water is getting a lady down in the water. While
the man leaves the baptistry, the lady is coming in. While she is being
baptized, the third man is preparing a man and helping him down into the
water. After the lady leaves, a man comes. This enables us to baptize about
four to five converts a minute without any appearance of rushing and taking
no less time with each person in the actual experience of baptism. We will
baptize an average of twenty-five to thirty each Sunday morning, and the
entire service takes only about ten minutes.
It is sad that many churches make it
difficult to get baptized. Take this same logic and use it about other
things that a new Christian should do. Should we let a new Christian wait
awhile before he tithes? Should we make it hard for him to tithe? Should we
make it hard for a new Christian to quit drinking and smoking? Should we
advise him to go back to the bar for awhile to be sure he is saved? Or
should we make it easy for him to quit his sins and start tithing? The sad
thing is that many of us do not look upon baptism as being an act of
obedience on the part of the believer. So in many cases we actually hinder
him from being obedient in baptism.
We should not overlook the fact that
the baptistry should be filled and warm at all services, and that the
baptismal service should be an impressive one. It should be done smoothly
and gracefully. People should get the idea that it is not a hard thing to
get baptized. Many people do not want to get baptized because they are
afraid of the water. Often times this fear is created, at least enhanced, by
a pastor not taking the proper care in the actual administrating of the
ordinance. If it is done in a crude, jerky way, it may strike fear into the
hearts of people, especially little ones, who will not want to get baptized
because they are afraid of the ordeal.
IV. PASTOR AND PEOPLE SHOULD SET
PERSONAL GOALS FOR SOUL WINNING
Just as it is wise
for the church to have many saved and baptized, it is also wise for the
pastor to set a personal goal for himself and lead his people in the same
thing. For example, why couldn't a pastor be responsible for baptizing
fifty-two converts a year that he wins to Christ? This certainly should be a
minimum. I have numbers of people in my church who are responsible for more
than this, and I have several people in my church who bring over one hundred
converts a year down the aisle professing faith in Jesus Christ. It might be
well for the pastor to preach on soul winning and for his invitation ask the
people to set a goal and ask God to give them that goal for souls for the
Immediately someone will suggest that
numbers are not important and that we should not major on numbers. That is
true if you are majoring on numbers for numbers' sake. But if you are
majoring on numbers for souls' sake, certainly it is justifiable. Any church
should be more pleased at baptizing one hundred than fifty, or two hundred
than one hundred. Numbers are simply expressions of the intensity of
Let us look in the Word of God. In
Acts 2:41 we find these words, "Then they that gladly received his word were
baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand
souls." You will notice that the Holy Spirit was very careful to say there
were about "3,000" saved at Pentecost.
Then in Acts 4:4, "Howbeit many of
them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five
thousand." Notice in this verse about "5,000" more were saved. The Holy
Spirit was very careful to deal in numbers.
Now turn back to Acts 1:15, "And in
those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the
number of names together were about an hundred and twenty)." Somebody
counted the prayer meeting crowd, didn't they?
Now to John 6:10, "And Jesus said,
Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat
down, in number about five thousand." This great miracle of the feeding of
five thousand men plus women and children is called by most of us the
"feeding of the 5,000." The very fact that we have given it this title means
that we are stressing numbers.
Now look at John 6:9: "There is a lad
here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they
among so many?" The Holy Spirit is very careful to tell us about how many
fishes and how many loaves.
In John 6:13, "Therefore they gathered
them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five
barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten." Here
we find that the Holy Spirit tells us how many baskets of fragments remain.
These are only a few examples of
scores of others in the Bible where the Holy Spirit deals in numbers.
Numbers are important with God. He had rather see two people saved than one.
He had rather see one hundred saved than fifty. He had rather see two
hundred saved than one hundred because every statistic represents a soul who
will spend eternity with Christ and escape the fires of Hell.
V. WE SHOULD BATHE THE CHURCH IN SOUL
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
"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
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
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
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. Thedeacons 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
VI. HAVE A SOUL-WINNING COURSE AND
USE SOUL-WINNING SKITS
Once a year at our
church we have a course on personal soul winning. This course is sometimes
taught on several consecutive evenings. Sometimes it is over a period of
several weeks on Wednesday nights, but every year we teach our people how to
win souls to Christ. We use the simple little plan in my book, Let's Go
Soul Winning, published by the Sword of the Lord Publishers at $1.00 per
copy. We do not go into the details as to what Scriptures to use for what
particular kind of sinner. We simply teach the simple way to lead a soul to
Christ. We call it the "Roman Road."
Then, from time to time, we have
soul-winning skits. Someone that we have won to Christ is brought to the
platform. The experience is relived before the people. Such a skit is
presented on my long-play record recorded by Diadem Studios and sold at
$3.79 per copy. This record deals for forty minutes with the soul-winning
course that we teach and for twenty minutes in an actual experience of
winning a soul to Christ.
A number of years ago we had such a
skit. The person who had been won to Christ was asked if he were a
Christian. He replied, "Yes." We paused for a minute and explained to him
that we were reliving his experience and wanted him to act as he did the day
he was saved.
Again we knocked on the door and
asked. "Sir, are you a Christian?"
He replied, " ... Yes ... I am ... ."
Again we interrupted the skit and reminded him that he was supposed to say,
"No, I am not a Christian," because we were showing the people what happened
the day he was saved. It seemed that he understood. Again, we knocked on the
door and asked, "Are you a Christian?"
"Yes," he replied. Then he began to
weep a little and said with puckered lips, "I am not going to get lost again
VII. THE PASTOR AND GOOD SOUL WINNERS
SHOULD TAKE PROSPECTIVE SOUL WINNERS WITH THEM
It is not a good
idea for two good soul winners to go soul winning together. It is best for
them to divide and each take another who can learn by watching. When Jesus
was on earth, He took twelve men with Him. They watched Him, followed Him,
and learned His work. Upon His going back to Heaven, He left His work in
their hands, they had learned by watching His example. I take people soul
winning with me very often. Some of the finest soul winners we have in our
church are people who have been soul winning with the pastors and have
learned by watching.
One of the finest things about
personal soul winning is that people won in the home by personal soul
winners become personal soul winners faster than those who are saved in the
public services. He sees a demonstration of soul winning at his own
conversion. Actually, then, we train a soul winner before we get him
converted. He sees how we work with him. Then, after he is converted, he
remembers how we worked with him and he, in turn, can use the same method on
VIII. GIVE AN INVITATION IN EACH
SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS AND HAVE A BAPTISMAL SERVICE AFTER SUNDAY SCHOOL
There are many lost
people in our Sunday schools who never attend the preaching services. Many
of these are children who are old enough to be saved but are not allowed by
their parents to stay for the preaching service. Many of these never get
saved, and thousands of people who are saved and attend our Sunday schools
never are present at a baptismal service. It is startling to me that we have
our baptismal service at the poorest attended service of the day. During the
Sunday school when the crowd is the biggest, we do not give the folks a
chance to get saved. The morning service is a formal worship service (at
least this is the case in many churches), and we delegate the evangelistic
service to the Sunday night service when the people who need it most are not
there. Periodically in the First Baptist Church we have an invitation given
in each Sunday school class. It is amazing how many unsaved people we could
find who are saved through this means.
The Sunday school could dismiss ten or
fifteen minutes early some Sunday and come in the auditorium for a baptismal
service. Those who are saved in the Sunday school hour and who will be
baptized could be baptized then. This is simply another way to increase the
number of converts baptized in our churches.
IX. AN INSIDE CHURCH CENSUS
When I was pastor of
a little country church, we took a census of our neighborhood and only found
seven prospects. Then we decided to take an inside church census and found
about forty-five prospects. Many of these were won to Christ later. An
inside church census simply is what its name implies. Take a census of the
house in which each member of the church lives. Ask each member to take his
own census bringing to you the name, age, spiritual condition and address of
every person who lives in his house. It is shocking how many people live in
the houses of our members and do not attend our churches. This is an
especially good idea for churches in rural areas and small towns where
prospects are not abundant.
X. INCLUDE THE SUBJECT OF BAPTISM IN
A SERMON ALMOST EVERY SUNDAY
Just one sentence
could be said about baptism each Lord's day. In other words, the general
atmosphere of the church should be that for a Christian not being baptized
is a sin and that to be obedient a new convert must be baptized. The people
should get the idea that baptism has nothing to do with salvation. However,
they should be made to feel that it is a very important step, and that when
they get saved, God wants them to be baptized. This certainly does not
deviate from the scriptural practice and the example as set forth in the
Book of Acts.
Now look at Matthew 28: 19 and 20. "Go
ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all
things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am, with you alway, even
unto the end of the world." Notice, if you would please, the imperatives in
these verses: Go, teach, baptize and teach. You will notice the simple
command of Christ is that we go and tell people how to be saved, baptize
them after they are saved, and teach than to do what God commanded us to do.
Since God's command to us was go and get people saved and get them baptized,
then we are to teach others to go and get people saved and get them
baptized. Notice the divine order: Go, teach all nations, baptize, and then
train them to be soul winners. This is God's plan.
Let us carry out the Great Commission
to its fullest, remembering that people are lost without Christ and need to
be saved, and they too need to be baptized and trained to go back and bring
others to the Saviour.
Let's increase our
converts and our baptisms.
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