“Practical” Performance


Joshua Harris (no apparent relation to this guy) is an ordained IFB evangelist out of Gospel Light Baptist in New Mexico.

When I saw that Josh had written a list of five practical ways to increase soul winning results I naturally thought that as someone who is a paid professional soul winner, he’d have some interesting insights.

Then I read the list.

Allow me to summarize:

1. Do it more often.
2. Do it to more people.
3. Do it more often.
4. Do it to more people.
5. Do it to more people (and a lot more often).

You’d think that a crowd of people who’s mandate is solely focused on scouring all of land and sea to make disciples would at least have developed some really good techniques for badgering, bullying, and buttonholing people into the kingdom.

But this? Even used car salesmen have better material than this.

133 thoughts on ““Practical” Performance”

        1. (I hate autocorrect when it doesn’t work right)

          The writer of this article reminds me of Bluto

  1. I like how Josh fastens grace with psychological pressure. Good job Josh. You like, totally get the scriptures and stuff.

  2. Every new Christian I have met at my church recently has come to faith because of a positive relationship with someone in our spiritual family. Example: a young mom baptized last Sunday who started studying the Bible with a couple of friends because she was curious. She also enrolled her kids in some of the church activities, and was impressed by the way they were loved by others in the church (I had the privilege of being one of those people). It wasn’t a one conversation/say a prayer/you’re in! experience; it was about a year of genuine relationships bathed in love and prayer. I will not play Holy Spirit and say that conversions can never be one-time encounters with another believer, but most new Christians I meet have had a long road of encounters with people who truly love Jesus.

    1. Actual studies show the same thing, that people who come to church and especially those who stay in church, do so because someone took an actual interest in their lives, not because of drive by evangelism. That’s far more “practical” than anything else, but it’s actually hard and requires compassion, and so probably isn’t going to go on the fundy “to do” list any time soon.

      1. No, it won’t make a Fundy to-do list because it can’t be “counted” like 20 decisions on soul-winning night. So sad.

        1. That and you might have to, you know, not separate. You might have to fellowship with darkness. You might have to go to a restaurant that serves alcohol or be exposed to “language”.

        2. So true!!

          Drive-by evangelism means you can try to do BOTH — tell people about Jesus but stay away from them at the same time. Of course, it doesn’t imitate how Jesus Himself behaved nor is it particularly practical.

    2. Love this post. Our pastor would always say “there isn’t time for friendship evangelism, the days are evil” – an imminent rapture thing I guess

      1. Don’t you go buyin’ no green bananas!
        We should live like people that don’t expect to be around here much longer, said the bible never.

      1. This reminds me of an old Steve Martin joke:
        “When I first came to Hollywood, I was kind of naรฏve. Some guys asked, ‘Are you bi?’ I thought they meant ‘bilingual,’ so I said yes. They said, ‘Then you should come to this party for S&M.’ I thought that meant ‘Spaniards and Mexicans,’ so I said, ‘Sure! Sounds like fun!'”

  3. I think I missed the part of the great commission that said racking up prayers & ascent numbers.

    I seem to be missing the parts of his blog where he talks about programs to help poor, hungry, widows, prisoners, debtors, the sick, etc. I’m sure it’s going to be in there since he starts with “We have a great responsibility to tell people about Christ.”. I assume if he’s doing that he is aware of who Christ is and communicating the message of Christ.

    1. You would think so, but a thumper’s idea of “God” and “Jesus” are a far different picture than what you or I might imagine.

    2. I know of people who Christian groups like Tear Fund for “not preaching the Gospel” sometimes some Christians’ role in the Great Commission is to keep people alive long enough to 1, hear the gospel and 2. Become disciples.

  4. Two sons on pastoral staff; keeping the business in the family.

    Also noticed that they mentioned how they expect visitors to (eventually) dress for church: They claim to have no dress code, but will use peer pressure to shame visitors into dressing the way they do – and later claim the spirit moved them to change their dress standards to be just like church leadership’s. Standard fundy manipulative crap.

    “There is no dress code at GLBC. Many people of our church will dress in their “Sunday best” and you will notice that our staff, leaders, and ushers dress as such. You will also notice attenders dressed from all walks of life. We just want you to be our honored guest and we certainly do not want anything to keep you from being a part of one of our services.”

    1. “Come as you are, but you’ll stand out as an uncommitted outsider because the ‘inner-circle’ dresses in ‘Sunday best.'”

      1. Aw, c’mon… Schaap might be a pedophile and a rapist but he kept himself separate from those who follow false doctrine. That’s the important thing. And I think he encouraged his flock to go soul-winning.

    2. I dress in my Sunday best every Sunday that I go to church. I wear my best shorts, or my best jeans or my best holey jeans and one of my best casual shirts. Did I mention that all that dressing is done on Sunday?

      the Admiral

    3. Pfft! Jeans and my Lady Guadalupe t-shirt suffice for appropriate “Sunday best”. Wear your devotion in your heart AND on your sleeves!

    1. Then there’s Jesus’ example in how he dealt with the evil and corrupt Roman government of his time. It seems like, to me, he refused to get sidetracked into political issues.

      So why do they do this?

      1. I can’t imagine what Grady’s point was in his drivel; what Harris’s point was is even less clear.

        I go to several different grocery stores, but that doesn’t turn me into bread and tomatoes.

      2. It’s interesting that Grady seems to think the American model of government, with its separation of powers and its legitimacy “deriving from the consent of the governed” was somehow modeled on a Baptist style of church governance. This is especially true since many Fundy preachers seem to believe in a form of church government that most closely resembles an absolute monarchy.

        1. It’s probably more true to say that those American churches that have a democratic polity modeled their governance structure on the U.S. government’s.

        2. I concur with BG. The “vox pop = vox dei” model of self governance is mostly inspired by enlightenment principles more than anything you would find in Scripture. Equality of believes is before God and not in matters of political struggle on national or local or even church business scales.

    2. That mug shot is not Susan Smith. It’s Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who has refused to issue licences for same-sex marriages.

        1. In fairness to you, Kim Davis doesn’t have anything to do with his incoherent screed on that page either.

          Complete lack of competent education on the rise of Nazis & Hitler in Germany. Hitler didn’t somehow change the entire country of Germany. He capitalized on the fierce sentiments of anger & rage from the punitive Treaty of Versailles and leveraged it to an attempt at world conquest.

    3. Does anyone else experience some cognitive dissonance in having an IFB preacher praise Dietrich Bonhoeffer as an exemplary Christian?

      1. 70 years after his death, easily passes. He was probably golden after 50 years in the ground.

        Plus Hitler/Nazi rule applies.

  5. The big scary- looking guy with tattoos might already have heard the gospel – and responded. On the other hand, what about the man who wears a suit and tie to church each week….?

  6. “God is not selective about his grace and neither should we be”
    No, but He IS *very* selective about how his Grace is *worked* out after someone prays the magical, er, Sinners, Prayer…..

  7. Dear pastors: is it really about the welfare of individual’s souls? Or is it all about your ego needing a bigger church?

  8. Our responsibility is to draw them to the point of decision, not just to tell them about the gospel? Man — too bad the Holy Spirit didn’t think of that. He could have spent the last two millennia relaxing in the Bahamas.

  9. Dear JTA:


    …because we’re Gnostics,
    and the body/resurrection doesn’t matter…

    Christian Socialist

    PS: Bow your eyes, close your heads and repeat this magic prayer after me…

    1. “Like a mighty tortoise
      Moves the church of God.
      Brothers, we are treading
      Where we’ve always trod.

      We are much divided,
      Many bodies we–
      Having many doctrines, but
      Not much charity.”

        1. Thanks! It’s the second verse of “Backward Christian Soldiers,” sung to “Onward Christian Soldiers.” It has many reputed authors, but none that I could pin down for sure.

  10. I’m sad that his answer is to double up on official “soul-winning” time: that takes away of his time with his family and his time with the community, time where he could be making real relationships and demonstrating the love of Jesus in a real way. But, no, to show his “commitment”, he has to dress in a suit and tie and go door-to-door like a 70s vacuum salesman.

    1. I really despise getting solicitors at my door, whether or not they’re pushing religion.

      1. Dear Bald Jones grad:

        Among the renovations underway at the ranch is a new commode. But I’m torn with what to do with the old one.

        On one hand, I could display it on the front lawn as a flower planter. But then I thought I could also use it as a repository for all the political pornography that I know will be delivered to my residence during next year’s Presidential campaigns. My guess is that we feel the same way about solicitors…

        Christian Socialist

        1. Dear Christian Socialist,
          If your toilet is broken, #JebCanFixIt.

          Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

        2. I find the Bush campaign’s new “Jeb can fix it” slogan completely astonishing, because:
          1. Jeb!’s most famous political achievement to date is “fixing” the 2000 Presidential election; and
          2. If I were running Jeb!’s campaign, I would avoid, at all costs, associating the campaign with Jimmy Savile, the eponymous host of the BBC’s long-running programme, “Jim’ll Fix It.” Savile was the guy who is said to have sexually abused hundreds of children and adults during his several decades as an entertainment figure.



  11. Did you know that there is not one single admonition by Paul for churches to evangelize? In fact, outside of the great commission (which was given to the apostles) there is virtually nothing about evangelism, and absolutely nothing at all about “soul winning”. Makes you think, huh?

    1. There is one and only one verse about “soul winning” in the Bible. It’s from Proverbs, in the section headed “the proverbs of Solomon.” The exact location is Proverbs 11:30. The context is a long series of this-way/but-that-way sayings, contrasting the rewards given to the wise, righteous, industrious, generous, etc., person with the consequences to the person who does the opposite. In the RSV, this verse reads “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, but lawlessness [taken from the Greek and Syriac; the Hebrew ‘a wise man’ appears to be a scribal error] takes away lives.” The KJV, as is typical, makes a hash even of the erroneous version; it reads “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he that winneth souls is wise.”

      And on this one verse hang endless hours of embarrassment, pointless labor, and weary repetition.

      1. I’m surprised (for no good reason) that you know the background on that one. And yes, the KJV is awful here (to be fair, it is generally awful with Hebrew). But one has to admit, that even if it was an accurate translation, how on earth could a person build an entire theological identity out of a single OT verse???

        1. Easy, Dr F.

          You take one verse, add it to your big ego, and TA-DA! There you have your theology.

      2. Dear Jenny Islander and Dr. Fundystan, Proctologist:

        Pro 11:30 is among the most tortured texts in the IFB canon — the KJV.

        Personally, I prefer this rendition: ‘the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, but violence takes lives.’

        Christian Socialist

        1. Violence takes lives…especially when you knock on the door of the door of the person who is on vacation and has a do not disturb sign on the door.

          We were on vacation in a cottage-looking kind of motel. The knock came at 9 am, and I was really afraid my dad was going to take out the poor JW standing in front of him.

  12. Maybe we should offer a revised version:

    1. Take advantage of the magic of computer technology by getting your kids to set up an Internet or a Twitter for your church.

    2. Compose some clever pick-up lines. “Hey baby, do you know where you’re gonna spend eternity?”

    3. Kids today love the Fonz. Dress like the Fonz!

    1. You forgot the rest of #2:

      โ€œHey baby, do you know where youโ€™re gonna spend eternity? You can come back to my place and spend it in heaven.”


  13. As a deterrent against the door-to-door evangelists prowling around in our heavily Mexican neighborhood, my husband pasted a sticker on the front door that reads in Spanish “this is a Catholic home. We do not accept propaganda from protestants or other sects. Long live Christ the King! Long live Our Lady of Guadalupe the Mother of God!”

    Suffice to say, we have not had a single evangelizer come knocking on our front door to bother us.

      1. My Fundy Friends used to walk right by the sign and knock on the door anyway…I was new then and wondering about all of this. it didn’t seem right, and I was gone not too long after that.

        1. They walked past the sign because it was in Spanish.

          Real Fundies can only read seventeenth century English.

      2. It was my idea to get that sticker after I saw a similar one on our church friend’s front door. He and his wife swore by it as an effective means of keeping evangelists away.

        As if the cross on the gatepost isn’t an effective sign of our home being Catholic, this sticker will be if the thumpers can make it past the fence and to the front door!

  14. I think it is the height of bad manners for a stranger to show up at someone’s door, uninvited, and proceed to tell them what they should believe on the most important and personal issues in life. It is just so insensitive and arrogant. And half the time the “soul winners” are young people who are still wet behind the ears. Why would anyone take the advice of a stranger who is clueless enough to do this?

    1. My hubby’s sort of involved with the local IFB church. I’ve met some of the people; some of them are nice enough. This one old Deacon, though, came over to my house and asked me about the church I go to. I forget whether it was hubby or I that told him the worship was contemporary; I do, however, remember that it was in response to him asking directly. He proceeded to tell me that my church was sinning by having contemporary worship. I thought that was VERY bad manners for him to come to my home and tell me my church was sinning. I had the opportunity to practice the spiritual fruit of self control that day. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Could he prove it from scripture? If not, he should go see a non-contemporary Christian taxidermist

        1. Any attempts at reason and/or logic should be abandoned, and practice kindness towards the unforgiven in hopes they may someday find grace.


        2. IMHO, direct lies should be kindly corrected, using Scripture and logic. Even if they do not agree or understand, (using Fundyspeak here) it will “plant a seed” that might grow if they ever have a lucid moment and start questioning the crap their mannagawd is feeding them.

      2. Dear Beth D:

        My church didn’t start singing hymns until the 30s. They were exclusive Psalmity. Anything else was considered heretical worship. That would include your old deacon friend…

        Christian Socialist

      3. All worship is contemporary. You may sing different songs written at different points in the past, believe a collection of writings from thousands of years ago by scribes who did not witness what they wrote about, or put down on paper from oral tradition. You may believe doctrines originating in the minds of ignorant people searching for meaning. But it is all put together in the here and now. It is all contemporary.

    2. @Shy1 – I couldn’t agree more… I was part of an IFBx church for many years; I usually just didn’t go “soul-winning”, but that caused me to be excluded from fellowship by nearly everyone in the church; they were “polite”, but distant. “Soul-winning” was everything, and I wasn’t doing it, so I was nothing; not allowed to be in any position whatsoever. One leader committed adultery and impregnated a teen girl. He was (to their credit) removed from his position, but we were not told what he had done. But he was still a “good guy” because he went soul-winning.

      The few times I did go, I was so angry at the abuses, and so distressed that I thought I would go out of my mind.

      I don’t mind visiting people who have visited our church, but my time at home is precious and limited, and I don’t want people coming by who insist on wasting my time trying to persuade me to be of their mind.

  15. The end goal of loving someone is not to win them to Jesus. The end goal of loving someone is to LOVE them. I still believe we declare the Gospel (which is pretty different than the fundie’s “ask Jesus in your heart and you will go to heaven”), but we don’t love people with ulterior motives. We love them because Jesus claimed that was His way. As the complete revelation of God, Jesus showed us what it means to be human: Love God, and love others.


    1. Amen. And I think that is the issue with the “soul-winning” tactics–the person is treated as the means to an end–> another notch on the belt–rather than the recipient of grace and love.

      1. I would state that modern soul-winning is treated as retail sales, complete with promotions for the best male soul-winner, female soul-winner, teen, etc.

        The discussion of x hours = y doors knocked = z salvation decisions is very salesman-like and puts all the responsibility on the so-called “soul-winner”

  16. I’ve never known a single fundamentalist church in all my life that sought to build any relationships with people that were not like them. Not a single one. That’s why their methods are so F*#%ing pitiful.

  17. I’ll never forget one time this couple who lived in a new apartment complex we had moved into introduced themselves, they were friendly, and invited us to church. We went, only to find out there was a big display on the back wall of fishing rods and everyone who invited someone that week got to pin a fish on the end of their line. It was a big contest and we had been duped into helping them win it. Boy did we feel like a couple jackasses. Needless to say the “friendship” was done and we never went back. People can be so clueless. And I have a lot of regrets, myself, too. After I became a believer, I made the mistake of attending a fundy church and I got so twisted up with guilt and fear that I did a lot of stupid things and damaged relationships. The constant worry that someone was going to “die tonight” and go to hell only because I never told them! Argh it is a burden no one was meant to carry. It leads to such idiocy. I regret that it led to idiocy on my part as well.

    1. Dear Shy1:

      You may regret past idiocy, but those on whom regret should lie most heavily are those who manipulate faith for lesser purposes.

      People such as yourself who have seen this thing from the inside and then left are a great asset for those still stuck inside the movement. God bless you for your humble confession, and God bless you again for your experience of his grace.

      Christian Socialist

    2. I was invited to “pack-a-pew” day or something…weird to think I was attending church to help this friend win some contest. That was not the Fundy church I ended up joining a couple years later. So many red flags I missed.

      1. I lost an outside friendship after I left Fundystan, because I told her how this cult tried roping people in…then she remembered all the times I had invited her to special days.

        1. My personal favorite is: “Come to our gala Christmas concert — whee we’ll harass you into filling out a ‘have-you-been-saved’ card.” Yes, I’m talking about YOU, Calvary Baptist Church at the corner of Peace Haven and Country Club, and all your minions who go around luring unsuspecting non-Baptists into attending the Christmas concert.

        2. That’s not limited to fundamentalism; the local (liberal) church does things to get the unwashed masses to listen to their gospel presentations.

          I do think that they should (a) make it clear upfront, and (b) not go too long — I once attended some free seminar at the church, and their gospel presentation was given right before we broke for lunch; I expected it to be 10-15 minutes (which would give us an hour to 65 minutes for lunch), but the gospel presentation went on and on until we had 40-45 minutes for lunch, which was very tight.

        3. Someone said the key to a good speech is a good beginning and a good ending and to keep them as close together as possible. With the addition of some good theological content, the same is true of sermons.

  18. Far too many (self-proclaimed) “soul winners” are sheer ‘glory thieves’ trying to drum up what ONLY the Holy Spirit can impart…genuine salvation. The door to door business is a misapplication of Luke 14:23. Sharing the gospel doesn’t require trespassing onto private property.

  19. One of the best booklets I’ve ever read was called The Technique Catastrophe: An Explanation of the Multitudes of False Professions in the Independent Baptist Movement. The author states that there are three requirements for a soul to be saved: (1) a witness to the truth (2) conviction of sin (3) turning to Jesus Christ in faith. Our part is only #1; #2 is the Holy Spirit’s part, and #3 is the sinner’s part. We err when we attempt to use psychology or manipulation to get #2 and/or #3 accomplished.

  20. Anyone remember having been taught to use The Roman’s Roadโ„ข as the “simple plan of Salvation” for Soulwinning?

    1. Yep. I remember. How formulaic! However did those people who didn’t have the book of Romans get saved!?

      The “way of salvation” has been made into a process instead of a Person.

      1. The way of salvation has always been reduced to process and equations rather than a person. The pharisees were not legalistic monsters. They really believed that if everyone kept the commandments, God would at the very least let Israel stay in the land and at the very best rescue them from Rome, possibly sending a Messiah.
        It seems human nature to reduce salvation and God to equations–Romans road for conversion, have the right doctrinal formula to be considered truly saved….

    2. Only place I’ve ever seen it used well was at our local not-too-kooky Christian summer camp. There is, or used to be, a footpath by the lake with bridges across little creeks and footprints painted on flat stones and so forth. Important verse references are painted on signs along the way, including the Romans Road. You’re supposed to head down there during free period if you want to walk and pray by yourself.

      Basically if they hadn’t separated from all that Popery, they would have laid out a labyrinth instead, as in the great cathedrals. But as a fish-sticker substitute, it isn’t bad.

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