Soulwinning Über Alles

What has the preeminence in fundamentalist circles? What do they glorify above all else? Christ? Christ’s church? The fellowship of the saints?

In fact, if you listen, you’ll find that the predominant thing glorified in all of fundamentalism is the act of confrontational evangelism and the people who do that “ministry.”

Soulwinning is what calls people to the ministry.

Soulwinning is what defines your usefulness to the ministry.

Soulwinning is even the cure for depression!

And yet, the way these people do this never shows up in the Bible or anywhere in church history outside of the last century or two. How very strange.

79 thoughts on “Soulwinning Über Alles”

    1. “above all else” is what I think of it as meaning. Probably not the best translation.

      1. Context alone led me to believe it meant “above all.” Now, after sufficient research, I now know it means “above all else” and is derived from the German national anthem, Deutschlandlied (previously known as Deutschland, Deutschland, Uber Alles), written in 1841 by Hoffman von Fallersleben and set to the Haydn tune we know as the hymn Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken.

        1. I’d just picked that definition from how I’ve heard it used, and used it myself over the years. Also have used “Job 1” and “Top Priority” as definitions.

        2. Kreine has it exactly right.
          Uber alles (I can’t make an umlaut here) means “above everything” in the sense of “at all costs.”

          The phrase is famous because Germany’s national anthem begins “Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles” (Germany above all). It’s like Americans saying “America first.”

  1. A better term is soul warning. You are right it seems to take the place of Christ in some places

  2. So, here’s a question:

    Did any of you have your soul won? In other words, were any of you actually converted as a result of someone knocking on your door, or approaching you in public?

    Personally, I find it irritating. When people knock on our door I always smile and say, “No, thank you.” Then without any chitchat, I just close the door.

    Anybody here a product of such a ministry?


    1. I know there are a (very) few people who have met Christ through door-to-door witnessing, but neither I, nor anyone I know personally was converted by that method.

      Even my soul-winning practicing family member was converted through a friendship with a believer rather than cold calling or a one time conversation with a stranger.

      I, too, am irritated by the hard-sell techniques of soul-winning. At least the JWs who come to my door are gracious, hand me a pamphlet, & leave immediately without any chitchat.

      1. I’m with Kreine. I think it’s vestigial behavior of a more naive/innocent time when door to door solicitation/sales were considered acceptable. I have heard 1 person say they were saved due to door knockers, I’m fairly certain from her age & how long she’s been in church, that it was pre 1980, and I would suspect pre 1970.

      2. I know of two people who came to our church during a door to door over 20 years ago and still keeping the faith.

    2. Not I.

      In all my life, I have never been approached by an IFB “soul-winner” – but I was asked “The Question” by someone who attended a Bible church.

      But I do know of several people who were won in their homes by cold-calling.

  3. Notice how “Dr.” Moffitt praised studying under his lordhsip “Dr.” Hyles. Moffitt didn’t mention the world famous son-in-law did he??

    Moffitt does come off as sincere something that most of the staff at Hammond/HAC aren’t.

    His lordship Hyles has a sermon called “Four Calls To Soulwinning” on YouTube. It’s basically Hyles bragging about going door to door and winning converts and convincing women not to wear “britches”.

    Also, I don’t if anyone has noticed at FBCH but John Wilkerson seems pretty legit and solid in knowledge of the Bible far more so than the previous pastor/dictator. Wilkerson doesn’t talk about what women are wearing and that the teenagers need to quit listening to CCM music etc.

    1. Wilkerson might not talk about those extra-biblical standards, but does totally support their enforcement.

    2. To say he knows more about the Bible than his predecessor did is to damn him with faint praise. Each of my cats understands the Bible better than Jack Schaap ever did.

    1. I have no desire to comment on the content of the HAC video itself. I only think that though I have posted this video elsewhere, this is the thread for it. The clip is from the movie THE BIG KAHUNA, and spoiler alert, this is its big moment. Watch the movie for the whole context.

        1. Indeed. And it’s right. Too many people are evangelizing without a sense of who they are … and so they are just salesmen. In two weeks, I will spend a week with prison inmates. I hope they will know that I truly, fully love our time together, that I respect them (they’ve earned it), and that I am learning about humanity in all its aspects from them.

          The writing in that scene also appears in the play on which the movie is based, HOSPITALITY SUITE. I would love to act the Danny DeVito role.

    2. I don’t know if this is still true, but in 1980 – 1983, Moody Bible were required to take a course on Personal Evangelism and to have a Practical Christian Ministry (PCM), which included a required semester of visitation (I.e. door-knocking). What troubled me about it all is that NONE of this had any relationship with my gifts, skills, or abilities. I felt utterly useless. And boy I wish knew then what I know now about my passions. (The film clip gets at some of what I know now about character.)

      An assigned ministry in a nursing home is where I first became familiar with HAC. They had two students going to the same nursing home. I think they found me basically useless.

      1. Jack, I’m with you on that. I came to know Christ in 1982 and had a fair amount of exposure to the confrontational evangelism model. Ugh. I can talk to people in a conversation but the door-to-door thing was not at all right for me. I think a school like Moody, with it’s obvious history with DL Moody and all the stories, is very reluctant to drop this requirement, whether it’s effective and beneficial or not.

        When I went to Bile College on the West Coast we also had Student Ministry credits to earn and it really came down to just jumping through the hoops to get the credit. More than likely this is something talked about around a conference table by administrators. And it also looks good on the annual reports.

  4. At about the 0:55 mark “….the truck stop ministry”. Why does that sound dirty to me?

    1. That would be a great name for a Boom-Chicka-Wow-Wow film, or a country-metal band. 😈

  5. This video leaves nothing to the role of the Holy Spirit in drawing people to Christ. Through no choice of my own, I was in a Hyles type church in 1977 and the preacher was coercive, angry, and manipulated people with guilt over who would go to hell if they personally didn’t get out and “win souls”. This is quite simply a cult, in my opinion.

  6. Notice how when he starts to list out all the great men he has learned from starting with Hyles, he doesn’t mention Schaap?

    1. Yes, I noticed that… he was probably instructed not to mention Jack Schaap’s name.

  7. We should play fundy bingo with this. I mean, all it was was an entire two minutes of fundy name dropping.

  8. I remember learning to “soulwin” off a Hyles “sales script”. I had that thing down. In my teen years as my voice was beginning to change, I was developing quite the “radio voice”. I had waaaayyyy too much fun with that script.

    Sad thing was the people I pitched into saying a pray, I wish I could go back to each and every one of them to tell them I’m sorry for making them do that just so I would have “got me one” on a Saturday afternoon.

  9. It seems Schaap’s name is now taboo at FBCH or HAC? Makes sense I guess. I’d have thought they would defend him to the bitter end though.

    1. If they don’t mention him, maybe they are hoping that people will forget about him…

  10. Yes!

    I was in a Hyles-clone church for years, and it was certainly this way. Couldn’t be a deacon unless you went “soul-winning” (hard to find that qualification, but they made it up – in Acts it says that the deacons were to be filled with the Spirit, and, they reasoned, such men would of course be going “soul-winning”).

    Couldn’t sing (solo, in groups, or in choir) unless you went soul-winning.

    Couldn’t teach unless you went soul-winning.

    Couldn’t usher unless you went soul-winning.

    Couldn’t pretty well use any gift at all unless you went soul-winning.

    Added to that was the brow-beating that one could not possibly be in fellowship with God, ask anything of Him, be “right” with Him unless one was going “soul-winning”.

    Glad to be out of that performance-based “Christianity”.

    1. I’ll have someone come by your home Thursday night around dinner time. I think you’ll know the definition when you see it.

    2. It’s what folks do for God so that they he will love them more better and so they have chits they can trade in to God for favors.

      1. chits? I think you have a superfluous c, and put the S at the end for some reason? πŸ™‚ 😈

    3. When strangers come up to you on the sidewalk or show up at your home and attempt to get you to listen to a spiel about how God wants to burn you up in fire forever and so you should say this prayer so God won’t kill you.

      One of these days I’ll scan in the little soul-winning pamphlet my husband got handed by a customer. Nasty, nasty, awful stuff.

      Bonus: Nearly all of the people who are targets of soul-winning are already Christian. They’re just not the right kind of Christian, i.e., members of that particular soul-winning church (although sometimes members of a particular denomination are accepted as the right kind of Christian).

      Cherry on top of the sundae: As usual, the whole culture of soul-winning–the demands for every hapless member of the congregation to get out there and annoy people, the nasty tracts, the hymns about how wonderful it is to go soul-winning and how sad Jesus will be if we don’t have a big collection of souls bumping along behind us when we show up in Heaven–is based on bad exegesis of a bad translation of a single verse. In the KJV, Prov. 11:30 reads, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” The NIV translates the second half of this, “And the one who is wise saves lives.” The RSV and NRSV, using a different source, translate it, “But violence/lawlessness takes away lives.” The context is a collection of “The Proverbs of Solomon” (per the internal heading, Prov. 10:1) contrasting right and wrong living. And from this bass-ackwards beginning arises the utter obnoxiousness of the people in the little church down the street.

      And of course, when people who are buttonholed in order to get a congregation member’s numbers up go “What? No! Please go away,” it’s seen as a sign that the little church is being persecuted for Christ. πŸ™„

      1. Oh, and did I mention the preachers who regard the guests at weddings and funerals as a captive audience for soul winning? Because that’s a thing.

        1. No doubt Jesus keeps face-palming over this crowd, no easy feat to do on a cross. πŸ™„ :mrgreen:

        2. I’ve been targeted by soul-winners before — on the street, mostly, but have also had Chick tracts left under my car window-wipers. Yes, I find it obnoxious, and I just want to run in the opposite direction. But OTOH…how does one spread the Gospel? The Great Commission is for all of us, not just for missionaries. So, how do we do it? Saint Francis said, “Preach the Gospel always. Use words when necessary.” So, OK, we’re mainly supposed to preach via our lives? OK, fine. But, when words are necessary, what do we say? I must confess I haven’t got a clue. We Catholics talk a lot about the “New Evangelization,” but I’m not sure anyone has ever come out and said clearly and explicitly HOW to do it! πŸ˜‰

        3. Our little Episcopal church has had an uptick in numbers due to identifying a spiritual need in the community and filling it. This needs to be unpacked for fundamentalists. “Spiritual need” must be understood literally, as needs expressed by the people the church is trying to invite. Whether or not these spiritual needs appear on your church’s checklist of spiritual needs is irrelevant. Likewise, any spiritual needs that are on your church’s checklist, but not expressed by the people your church is trying to reach are irrelevant.

          Our congregation identified two spiritual needs: first, to have a refuge from the relentless cheer of the holiday season, and second, to have a quiet place in which to take refuge from the hustle and bustle of daily life. We filled the first need by having a Blue Christmas service a few days before Christmas. The Blue Christmas service was written to comfort people who felt as though there was something wrong with them because they couldn’t “just” cheer up ” ’cause it’s Christmas! :D”. It was a safe space to express negative emotions without judgment. The second need sparked our twice-a-month Taize Compline services, which are very quiet and peaceful times for worship.

          The first step is finding out what people need that you can provide.

    1. Amen! That was my job! I can remember as a teenager going as the silent prayer partner and thinking, “I can’t believe you just said something so terrible to another human being!”. That really started me thinking and eventually led to me getting out a decade and a half later. I always kept my thoughts off my face, since I was so well-trained. I only showed the Joy of the Lord in public.

    2. I did that a lot; if I was paired with a friend, it could be a great time of fellowship, but I always wondered about the people we were telling could be “saved” by just reciting “THE PRAYER”. I have gone out with four different staff people; one always said something nasty about people who refused to listen to us – they were somehow ‘living in sin’ or had sin in their heart. Another two staff members were OK; the last one was a friend and we spoke about many things together.

  11. Of course soul-winning is above all else. It is their primary means of growing their church (and a healthy church is always growing, Amen?). Can’t just rely on the Holy Spirit to grow His church now, can we? “I will build My church” is just a song sung during building program offerings and Building Dedication Sundays.

    Where would Gid be without us?

    Of course, those who criticize door-to-door evangelism are just L-A-Z-Y. There is no other way.

  12. Soul-winning curing depression is such a soul-sucking error. My former pastor taught that depressed people just had to serve more to get their mind off themselves. Anyone simply unable to do so was just lazy and trying to couch their laziness in medicaleze.

    What a devastating system of works!

    1. That’s no different from the televangelists who claim you (or they) can pray away ailments like cancer or diabetes.

  13. Door to door soul winning I don’t have a problem with. (Hides in bunker waiting for the bombs to drop) What I have a problem with is the lack of any kind of followup. On Sunday you’ll hear, “we had 10 people saved through soul winning this week!” But there’s no effort made to get them in church and disciple them. Not that there’s much effort to disciple in general…

    1. Maybe if they combined soul-winning with whatever MLM or pyramid scheme being pushed by their church they’d get more long-lasting results? πŸ˜‰
      Just musing on that, used to date a guy who sold Amway in connection with his church (admittedly I’m skimpy on the details). πŸ˜•

    2. Totally agree. I don’t have a problem with soul-winning. I think its effectiveness is severely limited in the day and age we live in. My former fundy church did soul-winning and anyone that was ever saved out “knocking on doors” was never followed up on again. Or if they were they were quickly forgotten. In 10 years at the church I can recall one person who was led to Christ and became a regular attender. He’s actually a really nice guy too.

      1. I don’t have a problem with people going door-to-door; I object when it is implied that everyone must do so or else they are a third-class church member.

        I agree with you, Admiral911, that in this day and age, door-to-door knocking is not the same as it was in the 1940s, 1950s, or 1960s.

        1. Our Pastor was a Hyles grad, but he didn’t follow the militant fundamentalism that Hyles preached. He was one to encourage soul-winning (several times a month) but no one in the church was never forbidden from serving in the church because they didn’t. For that I am glad. But as a staff-member, I was required to be at soul-winning no matter what.

        2. I can see requiring staff. Even though the Leadership Team (what we call our elder board) sets the salary. Ultimately I pick the guy, however, having been mistreated as a staff member I try not to require more than is reasonable

        3. As a pastor I have to concede to the fact that door to door doesn’t work in some places. We do acts of kindness outreach events and we train people to witness to those God brings into their life.

        4. People are much more afraid to open their doors to strangers nowadays. I know I am. We live in the woods, and every so often coon hunters will show up on our porch to ask us for permission to look for their dogs on our property. I always say “yes” to a guy with a gun, LOL! But seriously…it does spook me out a bit. If the soul-winners are little old ladies, fine. But if they’re male and big, forget it!

  14. I already knew that the Hyles-Anderson crowd doesn’t know the difference between “teaching” and “indoctrination,” but what this video makes me wonder is, why did HAC see fit to put this guy’s job interview spiel up on YouTube?

    1. I was kind of thinking the same thing. The names of the courses could serve as sermon titles.

  15. Not one mention of what Christ did for him or anyone else for that matter. How this must grieve the Holy Spirit.

    Is is any wonder why this movement is on its way out.

  16. So soul-winning cures depression, huh?

    Then how do they explain the Hyles Anderson graduate who was an intern there for the past several years, was a bus division captain, “won” lots and lots of souls, etc. who committed suicide last month? Why wasn’t he “cured”?

    Sometimes I just get so tired of the “I’m so spiritual and always happy” babble.

    1. I scrolled through the comments to see if anyone else heard this. I skipped back to it a couple times to make sure that’s what he said.

      My good friend in IFB Bible college had an HAC-clone pastor-dad who took his own life.

      But maybe this guy is on to something. When my parents were on deputation, we had a missions conference in MI at a hyper-soulwinning church. The missionaries spent hours every day going door-to-door in the area. Of the 8 missionaries at the conference, one of them didn’t have a single number for the board after a few days. He got so sick of the harassment that he packed his bags and quit the conference halfway through.

      Notice that the teacher said, ‘If you win someone to Christ you’re never depressed.” That missionary’s problem was that his lack of souls led to depression. If he had just won one, then it would have fixed it!

  17. A dear fundy relative of mine told me that she always tries to witness to the people she meets because she never knows if that person will ever have another chance to hear the Gospel.

    First, she’s putting herself under an awful lot of pressure. Second, she’s giving the Spirit no credit. Third, she’s not considering the fact that the USA is pretty saturated with Christianity. Fourth, she’s not following the Biblical pattern of some planting and others watering. It’s as if she has to plant, water, and harvest all in five minutes with a stranger.

    She’s very earnest in her concern, but I feel she’s put a heavy and unnecessary burden on herself.

  18. He that winneth souls is wise. He that does not win souls is not wise. etymology of “win” To work, to strive, to struggle, to gain. Gain what? souls
    Do a search of “soul” Ps 86 thou hast delivered my soul from Hell. This is what Pro 11:30 is talking about. To struggle to deliver souls from Hell! It’s what Jesus did. It’s what he wants us to do. Plenty of examples in Bible of Christians bothering people with the gospel. Stephen was martyred for it. Granted there are some soulwinners misled, but this site is derailed. It isn’t even on the track. I feel sorry for the ones who were harassed and those that took their lives, but you can’t discount soulwinning because of that. There are some other important parts that they missed, but to seek the lost should be of great concern to every believer. Since Jesus Christ died for you and is pre-eminent, shouldn’t you be telling others about Him and His SAVING POWER?!! πŸ˜›

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