40 thoughts on “Soul Winning Marathons”

  1. Being tired after coming home from my church’s second day of VBS, I don’t have much to say about this. They’re either fired the he…ck up, or their standards for “souls saved” are lower than ours. We haven’t had any “souls saved” yet, but then maybe we’re just heathen liberal compromisers…

  2. It’s a code. If you use the number 78 and count the letters in each words the formula looks something like this:

    78 * [7 *(5/10) + 5] =663.

    Only one more person would have produced the number of 666. Proof that the “converts” that they never saw again probably were Satan-worshippers in disguise. One of the heathens must have been afraid of clinching the curse and causing the missionaries to have the evil number encoded on their website.

    Since we’re thinking about numbers just thought I’d throw in some numerology. 😛


  3. The fundy church I used to attend has weekly soulwinning and visitation, and participation is MANDITORY for all church volunteers. Most participants are just inviting folks to attend the church to hear the gospel message, instead of giving a gospel message at the door. They bring in new bodies all the time, but on the back end old timers are smelling the coffee and leaving. A look through old church directories would show how low their long term retention really is.

    When I joined, I did not realize how much serving in that church would be like running on a hamster wheel. We were slaves to the church calendar. (Part of me thinks they wanted to control our schedules as to prohibit us from cultivating close friends outside the church.)

    Must attend every church activity.

    Must go soulwinning every week.

    “Three to thrive” (Sunday Morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night. If your kids attended the church school you were sent a “we missed you letter” when you failed to meet the attendance requirement.)

    Quarterly conferences when it became 5+ to thrive.

    Plus the many “we need you to….” requests

    Church leadership judged the level of our spirituality by how well we adhered to the pastor’s program of works.

    Funny, but they don’t disclose all this when they hand out their cheery church tracts and invite you to their services. Of course, they also don’t disclose how they are going to eventually try to control what you wear, what music you listen to, which schools you and your children attend, prohibit you from drinking alcohol and going to the eeeeeeeevil movie house, etc.

    If there were truth in advertising from some of these mega-fundy churches, their “soul winning” efforts would fall flat.

    1. Like like like like like! This is exactly the kind of crap that drove us out of our former church!

      “Church leadership judged the level of our spirituality by how well we adhered to the pastor’s program of works.”

      Spot on, you’ve nailed it! And by our endurance for long long long sermons! While my butt fell asleep on the hard pew and… I desperately needed to go to the ladies’ room! But your physical needs weren’t taken into consideration, you’re just not SPIRITUAL if you don’t want to hear me rant for an hour or more!

      I’m so glad to be out of that place!!!!!!! :mrgreen:

  4. Anyone but me see the irony of their Soul winning Campaign title, “Get over yourself”? IMO they should follow their own advice, it is NOT about THEM it is about a wonderful, glorious, powerful, all-knowing, loving, Sovereign God!

    Get over yourself, indeed. :/

  5. found this tidbit from Day 11 interesting –

    “It seemed like nothing was going to happen, because there weren’t that many people in town. Then as we walked a little further people started getting saved!”

    So people appeared out of nowhere and got saved? That’s a miracle!

  6. “Catholicism runs deep in many people here and we need God to break down the wall of religion.”

    I find these “missions” to Catholic countries so very offensive because they assume that Catholics aren’t Christians and are lost. These missionaries claim to be “breaking down the wall of religion” when in fact they are merely creating their own little religious walls.

    I just took a missions class and the teacher, Dr. Tennant (president of Asbury Seminary) bemoaned the fact that so much time and money was being wasted on reaching people groups that already had complete access to the Gospel. Like missions to the Phillipines, Mexico, and in this case Croatia.

    Dr. Tennant believes that mission work should concentrate on reaching unreached people groups and aid indigneous Christians to reach others for Christ who are in their culture.

    Baptist missions believe they are sent to preach the American way as well as the Baptist way. Then they count souls in their easy-believism religion, go home, and feel satisfied at “souls saved”. No follow up, no discipleship, and not even knowing or remembering the names of the people who were “saved” is for sure not obeying Jesus’ command to “make disciples, teaching them to obey whatsoever I have commanded you”.

  7. Morgan said – “No follow up, no discipleship, and not even knowing or remembering the names of the people who were “saved” is for sure not obeying Jesus’ command to “make disciples, teaching them to obey whatsoever I have commanded you”.”

    I say – “AMEN”

  8. Shouting in the park? He’s lucky he didn’t get arrested and put into some nasty jail cell where, doubtless, he would have won a lot more souls.

    Just souls? Last time I checked people are more than just souls.

  9. And all God’s people said ______! It’s always been about discipleship, not about souls. More heresy from our friends in Fundyland.

  10. Ugh! The “souls” thing has always irritated me. My parents’ church puts “souls saved” and “baptisms” counts in their Wednesday night prayer lists. I know people have souls, but people are not JUST souls! As Christians we’re doing less than we should if we’re not ministering to the ENTIRE person, not just the “soul.” it may not give us a nice fat number for “soul role call” but it makes real disciples. Out of US.

  11. I know people have souls, but people are not JUST souls! As Christians we’re doing less than we should if we’re not ministering to the ENTIRE person, not just the “soul.”

    I think the “souls” thing is just synecdoche, but I agree totally on your second point. Fundamentalism never ministered to my mind, a trend that has turned a lot of fundies into agnostics or atheists.

  12. @Jordan: of course, I know that they’re just using it as a figure of speech; however, I think it’s a very telling result of fundy notch-in-my-belt syndrome. And I detest that. So I hate hearing about “souls,” especially when there is no warm body present, eager to learn more about this amazing Christ, to represent the soul-notch being bragged about. Because honestly, how often does that kind of “soul-winning yield an actual Christian, you know? But maybe I’m just being nit-picky because I’m bitter.

    1. @Kari – the yield is about 1 in about 100 (for some, like Longview B Gray, it’s more like 1 in 10,000).

      Doesn’t compare well with Pentecost, where 3000 were saved, 3000 were baptized, and 3000 “continued in the apostles’ doctrine”.

  13. Because honestly, how often does that kind of “soul-winning yield an actual Christian, you know?

    I pointed exactly that out to a friend over the weekend. All the revivals, tent revivals, door-to-door, missions conferences, visitor Sundays, special events, etc. etc. etc., and the make-up of my old church didn’t change a bit.

    1. There is no New Testament record where any pastor, deacon, or worker every did any counting of numbers. There were 3000 saved at Pentecost, but the Holy Spirit gave to man the numbers – there is no indication that anyone counted.

      Why don’t we just leave the results and counting to God? After all, He is the one that saves, not us.

      Do we commit the sin of David (numbering) when we are so insistent upon numbers the souls “we” have saved??

  14. @Jessica –
    Easy believism is sometimes called “1-2-3 repeat after me”. It’s the false concept that says simply praying the sinner’s prayer will save you and make you a Christian for life. It doesn’t matter what you do after that as far as the rest of your life is concerned. You could truly become a disciple of Christ by believing in him, following him, being baptized, loving God and your neighbor, and getting involved in a church.

    On the other hand, you could also turn into a mass murderer, or as Martin Luther would say, “Sin, and sin boldly!” without ever changing your life around or giving another thought to God. Because you prayed the sinner’s prayer, you’re in the salvation club. You have your “get out of hell” card. The need for actual conversion to Christ is discounted or not addressed. The New Testament refutes easy believism by repeatedly saying that we need to repent, trust in God, and be converted to a whole new life through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Anyone, correct me if I’m wrong.

    1. It is also called “easy prayerism” — belief is easy, actually — but the focus of much such “soul-winning” is to have them prayer a prayer.

  15. The third option is that the one who says the get out of hell free “prayer” goes through life thinking they are saved and alright. They have a false conversion and hang onto what they thought was salvation. I lived like that for 29-30 years until the Lord actually saved me when I was 38 years old.

  16. What ever happened to luring children to the Gospel by having strangers give them ice cream?

  17. @ Don: On a serious note of what you commented on I have a question. Over the course of your life when you were like that did God ever truly convict you of your condition and you resisted or wondered what it was( your a five pointer right?) or was the time you were truly saved the first time you ever experience conviction and conversion by the Holy Spirit. Since your a Calvinist is what I am asking an impossibility for you in light of your beliefs?

    @Morgan: Were you equating Luther and easy believism together as what called antinomianism?

  18. @Phil. My personal experience was when I was 9, I made a profession of faith and prayed the prayer, was baptized and in doing so I thought I was saved. I held onto that for almost 30 years. I grew up in church and had been in the IFB since after my dad died when I was 13. If the doors were open we had to be at church. I rebelled in my later teens because I could not buy the religion the BJU outpost we were attending was selling. (according to them unless you went to BJU for college you were, “not right with gawd.”) But when I came back to regular church attendance in my late 20’s, I only knew the IFB way. But I was a good Baptist however, “Once Saved, Always Saved!” (amen? he asked with a knowing grin)

    Oh, there were times in my life I would get very convicted of sin and try to do better and sometimes have some very emotional experiences… but hindsight being 20/20, I see that I was not saved and all that was, was some emotional manipulation trying to gin up a response. (Thank you very little Charles Finney [the modern father of easy-believism]… your heresy continues to leave spiritual carnage wherever it is practiced.) I was still heavily, deeply into the IFB when the Lord saved me. (it took another eight years for me to leave the IFB completely) I didn’t go looking for Christ, He found me and did a work of grace in my life that I could not do.

    The prayer as a nine year old wanting to be sure I would go to heaven… That I did.

    The trips to the so-called “altar” to “re-dedicate” my life several hundreds of times… I did that too.

    The works that I did for the “church” and all the time and effort I put into ministry… yep that was all my doings as well.

    All those “Brownie-Points” I was racking up with my works “sanctification…. all mine!

    True conviction, drawing, new birth, conversion, regeneration, redemption, adoption… in a word: Grace… was all the Lord’s doing, He saw fit according to His will and purpose, to extend Grace and Mercy and Life to me…. how can one refuse that? All I could do was accept Jesus’ gift of life and surrender my life to Him, my Lord and Savior.

    Hope that answers your question.

  19. @Don
    Now that’s what I’m talking about! Easy believism vs. a true conversion to Christ. Big, big difference.

  20. So if you have a true conversion to Christ you will have sin constantly conquered and be a super Christian? Because now I am scared that I’m not a Christian because I haven’t been a super Christian but I have trusted not just a “prayer” but a true belief that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life and is the my only hope for salvation. My sins are great but I have trusted that only He can save me. I still struggle with sin daily and fail all the time, though.

    I’m really scared…

    1. No need to be scared; God is good. What Don pointed out is that he was trying to stay on God’s side by doing all these works… but salvation is of grace, not of works… It comes down to what are you trusting? Is it really Jesus Christ alone? Or do you also have as a “backup” the good things you’ve done?

      I am cast, fully and completely, upon Jesus Christ; I have NOTHING else to claim.

  21. @Jessica: If you repented from your sins and placed your trust in the finished work of Christ, you are as justified and sanctified as you’ll ever be. Now the command for you is to “grow in grace [that is,] in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Don’t be surprised, therefore, if you find yourself sinning in some areas. Your flesh will ONLY work on the operating system of sin (Romans 7:25). What we are to do as Christians is to learn as much as we can about Jesus Christ so we can REALIZE what He has given us when we got saved! I would recommend you read and study the first chapter of Ephesians! The more aware we are of the spiritual riches and resources we have in Christ, the less we’ll find ourselves desiring to sin! We’ll want to obey the laws of righteousness that will benefit our soul.

  22. I understand that and I apologize. I have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder which manifests itself in religious obsessions along with other themes. One of my deepest fears (along with the fear of contracting AIDS, committing the unforgivable sin, and social anxiety) has been my spiritual state.

    When I calm my OCD down enough, I can say “absolutely, I am a Christian.” I have realized my fallen nature, I am sinner who cannot save myself and put my faith in Jesus’ free gift of grace. Jesus’ perfection covers me like a blanket. I do agree with you that the more you learn about Jesus the more your spirit grows.

    I have always heard that repentance is turning from your sin but have been confused about the actual “turning” part. I mean, if we still sin what have we actually turned from? Is it just a change in the way of thinking and regarding sin?

  23. @Jessica – we all stumble and fail at times. As Christians, we know we fail and we confess our failure to God and he forgives us. We’ll never be perfect until we’re in heaven. I believe that when we ask God, he will give us the grace to refrain from doing what we know is wrong. At first we may try not to sin out of fear for God, but as we grow in sanctification we will try not to sin out of love for God.

    As we mature in Christ, we find that the sin that used to plague us no longer has any power over us by the grace of God. I mean that we won’t even be tempted.

    Temptation is not the same as actual sin. Jesus was tempted by the devil, but he was without sin. If I am tempted to do something, but don’t do it, I have overcome temptation and not sinned.

    As a Catholic, I believe that when we come to Christ, we actually receive a new nature and we are not simply declared righteous (imputed), but we are made righteous (infused) by the power of the Holy Spirit. Our new nature in Christ will gradually allow us to grow in holiness. It’s not instant. It’s a lifetime process. And as we fail, which we will, he is “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.

    Jessica, our God is good and he knows your heart. He will infuse you with grace and the power to live as he wants you to live. He wants you to live in trust and freedom from the power of sin.

  24. Jessica,
    there is no such thing as “sinless perfection” here in this life. Even Paul said “I am the chiefest of sinners.” John the Apostle tells us that if we say we have no sin we are liars. Again it is not performance Christianity… for everything that we do is poluted by sin and the very best we can do is nothing but filthy rags. That’s why Grace is so Amazing, we deserve nothing but judgment and hell… yet God in His fathomless mercy extends Grace to us and saves us … in-spite of who and what we are… even knowing how we will be, think, do and act even after He saves us… and yet He still extends His Mercy and His Grace. That is awesome. That also takes away the need and pressure for us to perform, and measure up… because we can’t anyway. Christian Life is a gift of Grace. (not a liscense to sin, but an assurance of His faithfulness, that even when we do sin, He loves us.) that truly is good news.

  25. I mean, if we still sin what have we actually turned from?

    The habitual, compulsive lifestyle of sin.

    Will we still sin? Yep.
    Do we have to allow sin to control us and rule our lives? nope.
    Remember “Repent” is not just a one shot deal… it is a continual life-long action and attitude towards sin. As we grow we should see sin more and more as primarily against God, which will make us want to repent of following and serving other gods (entertainment, pleasure, greed, lust, pride… you get the picture.)

  26. Jessica – I’ve been there! I had panic attacks and would find ways to “do penance” for my sins (and I’ll admit it, there were a lot of them) just in case my repentance wasn’t strong enough to “take.” I was so miserable. My way out of that pit was very gradual, and not at all like the sudden “decision card” salvations and rededications you hear about. My realizations progressed a little like this:

    – My fear of God is not the kind of “God fear” described in the Bible.
    – I am misrepresenting him to myself as an ogre, sitting on high just waiting to strike me with lightning.
    – He has not set up salvation as a tricky maze I have to find my way through while he laughs at my mistakes. That is not the God of the Bible.
    – He loves me and is ready, willing, able, and eager to save me.
    – No amount of penance or repentance will be enough to buy me into his hands.
    – Christ’s blood is my ransom.
    – When I refuse to let HIM do the work of salvation in me, I am rejecting the power of Christ’s atonement.
    – I can talk all this stuff through with him and ask him to show me the way, and he’ll answer my prayers because he wants to! Wow!
    – I no longer even care which of my many prayers for salvation actually “counted.” What matters to me now is how amazingly beautiful he is, and I can’t take my eyes off him!
    – He didn’t leave me alone! I have his written word! I have his Spirit! I see his awesomeness everywhere I turn, in creation and in humanity!
    – And guess what! I don’t have to muster up the fruits of the Spirit, I can ask the Spirit to grow them in me!
    – And when I don’t know how to ask, guess what else? The SPIRIT HIMSELF intercedes for me with groanings that can’t be uttered!
    – And CHRIST is at the right hand of the Father interceding for me too!
    – And the God who cannot lie has promised to complete his work in me!

    And the final realization went something like this:

    – Wahoo!!!

    I’m not saying I always feel the “wahoo” part. My personality tends toward extremes (you might call me bipolar) but as I’ve gotten older, even in my lows, I can see God’s grace. I’m finally starting to think that my swings are a gift from God. The lows make me deeply sympathetic to others’ pain and motivate me to pray more fervently for friends, the body of Christ, and humanity as a whole. The highs are sunny times of relief, filled with laughter, thankfulness and singing. It might make me a little harder to live with, but I wouldn’t trade that gift for the world.

    For me, this all happened over a long time, but what an incalculable treasure that time is in my heart! Maybe your fears and struggles will turn out to be a thread in your own story of grace.

  27. It’s really cool to read through the comments to Jessica and see the wonderful grace of God break through the chains of legalism.

  28. Thank you all for your God-sent comments! I’m still trying to escape my past of legalism and my time in fundie-land.

    It is encouraging to hear it as a process and not some quick-fix that I have to accomplish in my own power.

    All glory to God

  29. I just want to correct the sin boldly comment.

    Its taken out of context so often.

    There are certain situations in life, where no matter what you do, there will be sin involved.
    Have you ever been in a situtation like that? Where it seemed no matter which way you go, it wont be good? There are bible narratives to this. Where the midwives lied to protect the jewish babies.. where Joseph deceived his brothers. Things like that.

    Luther was saying in that instance “Sin boldly” knowing that its not by your works you are saved. In this cursed life, there are just going to be things like that. Sin boldly.

    If you read the rest of what he writes, you would see that he’s not about sinning freely at all.

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