I believe that as an ambassador of Christ I should be ready to seize every opportunity to share the gospel everywhere I go.
But I also believe in setting aside scheduled time to do it—for myself and for our church family.
Some people suggest that a church soulwinning program is an “extra” as long as people are ready to witness to their friends, neighbors, and coworkers. I believe both are necessary if we believe in taking the Great Commission literally.
Because reaching a community with the gospel is such a clear purpose for the local church, I believe it should be approached with both passion and organization.
Passion without organization will result in half-completed efforts. Organization without passion will result in little fruit.
So what is the purpose for establishing an organized soulwinning program in a local church? I see three biblical purposes:
1. To Win the Lost
In every community, there are people who need the gospel. There are men, women, boys, and girls who would respond to the Word of God if a Spirit-filled soulwinner would present God’s gracious offer of salvation to them.
2. To Saturate the Community with the Gospel
The church at Thessalonica so effectively witnessed for Christ that they not only saturated their own community with the gospel, but they witnessed to those who merely passed through their community on the famous Egnatian Way, thus sending the gospel into regions far beyond Thessalonica.
For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.—1 Thessalonians 1:8
We are commanded to take the gospel into all the world. This includes our own communities as well as every other nation on the globe. Fully accomplishing this task is only possible through a biblical missions strategy. (To take the gospel to Africa, we need to support missionaries who will go to Africa.)
But accomplishing this task in our own community requires a biblical saturation strategy that enables your church to saturate your community thoroughly with the gospel of Christ. This should be done so purposefully and systematically that the gospel is taken to every home and made available through every venue you can use. This requires the organization of an entire church family.
3. To Train Christians in Witnessing for Christ
An effective church soulwinning program not only provides opportunities for members to go soulwinning, but it is structured to reproduce new soulwinners.
Soulwinning is not the job of the pastor or the church staff; it is the job of every Christian. Philippians 1:27 instructs local churches to strive together “for the faith of the gospel.” This isn’t just a pastor and church staff endeavor. It is a church endeavor.
Christ Himself gave us this pattern. True, He began His ministry alone, but He soon called out twelve apostles. He mentored and trained them, and He sent them to preach.
Then he called his twelve disciples together…And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.—Luke 9:1–2
But Christ didn’t stop with the twelve. The following chapter records that He sent more labors.
After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.—Luke 10:1
And just before He ascended to Heaven, Jesus commissioned—not just twelve, or seventy—but the local church to preach the gospel.
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. Amen.—Matthew 28:19–20
One of the great by-products of an effective church soulwinning program is the reproduction of soulwinners. It doesn’t happen by accident. It must be woven into the fabric of the church soulwinning program.
Although resources that teach Christians to share their faith abound today, there is still no substitute for an experienced soulwinner taking someone else under his wing and teaching him how to lead people to Christ!
These three purposes—to win the lost, saturate the community with the gospel, and train Christians in witnessing for Christ—can all be accomplished through the unified efforts of an entire congregation.
I’ve seen it happen here at Lancaster Baptist Church. This very week, our church is in the midst of attempting the greatest soulwinning effort in our history. We’re doing our best to reach every home in our valley at least twice in a ten-day period with the message of the gospel and an invitation to Easter services at Lancaster Baptist. Through these efforts, we’re already seeing people saved, the community touched, and many new soulwinners getting involved and being trained. It truly is a joy to see.
If you are a pastor and do not currently have an organized soulwinning program in your church, I urge you to begin one. Or, if your soulwinning program has been lacking fervency and involvement, I urge you to prayerfully relaunch it.
If you are a Christian who has been lacking fervency in your witness or organization in combining your efforts with your church’s mission, I encourage you to ask God to once again stir your heart for souls and then to schedule time to make sharing the gospel a priority.
This post is adapted from Out of Commission: Getting Every Christian Back to the Great Commission. See chapter 12 of this book for a detailed plan of organizing and maintaining a soulwinning program in the local church.