By William C. Sexton
Having noticed that one must prepare himself if he is to be successful in the most important activity a Christian can do-soul saving, and having seen that at least three things are essential: heart power, head power, and foot power, now we are ready to look at the actual procedure involved.
Individuals can do this on their own, and they can aid and assist congregational cooperation and co-ordination. No one can be able to say that there was no opportunity for him to do personal evangelism, because he can do it by himself. However, no Christian ought to be content to be a member of a congregation that is not actively engaged in personal evangelism: going out regularly making contacts and having Bible study, training others to do it, and encouraging all to prepare and be participating in the same.
First, one has to find prospects, and one might search his mind as to who is a prospect? Relatives may not be the most fruitful field, but they certainly are people that should come to our minds when we think of saving souls. Also, they are people that we know of, where they are, what their attitude maybe at the particular time, and what some of their problems may be. If we can’t talk to them-that is if we feel that they won’t talk to us (although we should try first) then we may ask another to talk to them. They will probably respect you for your concern for their salvation, even though they may not think that your concern has any real basis.
Secondly, one of the most fruitful fields is the “visitors” group. Here many Christians ought to be ashamed of themselves and the ‘congregation: they allow a person to attend the services and get away without getting the person’s name and address recorded so they can follow up! There is just no justification for this, in my mind. The person who attends ought to be recognized as a “prospect.” He is present, manifesting some interest by being there. A , visit by someone to express appreciation for his presence is deserved, at least. A visit to ask if there is anything that we as individuals or as a congregation can do to assist in spiritual matters is demanded if we are conscious of our duty and privilege. Some congregations have no kind of register to get the names, no effort is made to get them to fill out a “visitor’s card,” and no individual makes a conscious effort to see that all names and addresses are obtained. I’ve gone to visit people and found that they had been to the congregation’s services and no one ever visited them and tell someone who is supposed to be one of the “active members,” to have them say, “Why, I don’t remember them.”
Thirdly, the “New Resident” group is a prospective field that needs to be worked. Someone ought to be conscious of how to obtain the names of those who move into the area-and in our day people are much more “mobile” than they used to be-and make some effort to contact them, making them aware that we, as Christians, are concerned about peoples’ souls and invite them to attend the services and see if there is anything that can be done to assist them in regard to spiritual matters.
Fourthly, “Newly Married” couples constitute a field that is prospectively fruitful. These people have started a new life, and they are looking for that which will make for their happiness and continue to be a source of comfort in time of need. Perhaps they are looking forward to having children, and they will want a place to bring their offspring for religious training, etc.
Fifthly, there is a group of “Complainers of Religious Practices,” which can be fruitful. Denominationalism is constantly changing, and some people become disturbed at these changes and they are ripe for fruitful discussion. Why not develop an alertness to such a voice? One has to be or become dissatisfied with his present position before one can move him. You may be a helper in his becoming dissatisfied or you may be one coming to his aid in his dissatisfaction-providing him with an answer to his searching mind, a solution for his problem.
There are many prospects around, if we will become conscious of their presence. Where to look: Everywhere! What about that person that moved in down the street? Have you visited him and welcomed him to the community? Did you ask him if he was a Christian? Where he planned to worship? Where he was going to take his family to participate in religious service? Have we spoken to that “Aunt Mary” or “Uncle John?” When you write people, do you mention your, religious life? If you conceived it to be a “life and death situation” would you not mention it? Have you ever gone out and taken a Religious Census on your block? In your town? In your community? Why?
Visiting-Purpose and Doing?
One can “visit a lot and never do any personal evangelism. Every visit will not be for the same purpose, nor will they be made in the same way. But, one should know what each visit is for and how it is to be conducted before he goes, and then, do it!
It should be real easy to approach a person that has been to services that morning in the afternoon of that same day. “We wanted to let you know that we are real glad to have you at services today.” “We wanted to ask if there was anything we could assist you with in the spiritual realm.” They can tell you why they happened to attend, if they have a problem that you can assist them with, and if they have a question you may seek to answer “by the Bible.”
You can present to them what the congregation has as its goal, hopefully, “to build a congregation saved by the blood of Christ, who worships the God of heaven, working for the Savior and Lord of Mankind.” If they are Christians, you can express your desire that they will become identified with the congregation and worship and work with this congregation of God’s people. If there is a subject that they would like to study, then make a date or ask for a time and promise to contact them shortly about carrying on such a study.
If they have been out of service to the Lord, which many are, then speak honestly and sincerely but firmly of their need to repent and be restored to their first love and get back to serving God faithfully. Express your genuine concern and willingness to help them in overcoming whatever may have hindered them before. Don’t put up a front; speak of the scriptures showing the danger of falling and being negligent, (Heb. 3:12-13; 2:3). Remember that in fact such persons are just as lost as those who have never been baptized and their souls are just as important as any others, (James 5:19-20; 2 Peter 2:20-22).
The importance of this is: know what you are going for in each visit, then be sure that you don’t forget to do what you went to do! It is easier to go to a person’s house, sit and talk for an hour or so and leave with bearly mentioning the church, the person’s soul, or the work of the Lord. We can’t do what is required of us unless we know what it is that we have to do, but knowing is not enough!
Next we’ll consider making the appointment!
Truth Magazine XIX: 34, pp. 534-535
July 10, 1975