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What About Soulwinning?

Let me preface this study with a few remarks:

1. I very much believe that it is vital for believers to faithfully give the gospel to the lost.

2. There are some who may use the term “soulwinning” that are not guilty of the things I am going to write about in this post.

3. I am not writing about this subject just to be critical, but rather I want to warn against some very serious errors in modern day evangelism. How we go about giving out the gospel is extremely important. I fear that there are multitudes of people that have been wrongly led to think they are saved as a result of the kind of soulwinning that I am writing about. They think they are saved because they “prayed the prayer” or "walked the aisle."

The way most fundamental churches emphasize what they call “soulwinning,” you would think it was a major subject in the word of God. However, there is only one mention of soulwinning in the Bible, and it is not even talking about evangelism. It is never right to build a doctrine on a single verse taken out of context!

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. (Prov. 11:30)

The general context is divine wisdom applied to the daily life of Israel under the law. There are certainly moral principles that we may apply from Proverbs, but we must always be mindful that it wasn’t actually written to the Body of Christ living under grace.

The immediate context concerns the wisdom of being good to others so that they will be good to you (vs.24-31). So, v.30 is not talking about winning souls to Christ; it is talking winning souls to yourself. The expression, “tree of life” is used four times in Proverbs to signify fruitfulness, happiness, and vitality (3:18; 13:12; 15:4).

I am all for true evangelism, but I am against “soulwinning” as it has been taught by preachers like Jack Hyles. I was influenced by such teaching early on in my Christian life. What caused me to eventually reject it? Reading and studying the Bible! What is the problem with it?

1. The presentation – They give a presentation instead of the plain gospel. The whole approach is faulty. “If you died to today, are you sure you would go to heaven?” The typical soulwinning presentation is centered around going to heaven, but the Bible does not teach that going to heaven is the purpose of salvation. It is about being reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:17-21). Everybody wants to go to heaven, but not everybody wants to be saved from their sin and reconciled to God. The typical presentation does not emphasize the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. They briefly mention that Jesus paid for our sins so we can go to heaven if we will just invite Him into our heart.

2. The goal – Their goal is to get people to repeat a prayer. People are religious by nature, and so it is easy to get them to repeat a prayer if it means a free ticket to heaven. Where does the Bible say we must pray to be saved? We must BELIEVE the gospel with our heart, trusting Christ as our Savior (Eph. 1:13; Acts 16:31).

3. The high pressure techniques – Soulwinners are not supposed to give the sinner a chance to say no. “You want to go to heaven, don’t you? Say this prayer with me…” Jack Hyles bragged about a car dealership using his soulwinning book to train their salesmen.

4. The wrong standard of success (numbers) - That is how the “sinner’s prayer” and “walking the aisle” got started. They need visible results to count up numbers. They think the more numbers they have (professions, baptisms, attendance, offerings, staff, buildings), the more blessed they are of God. Paul said that those who suppose gain is godliness have a corrupt mind (1 Tim. 6:5).

Most soulwinning churches have a door to door soulwinning program every week, and SHAME on you if you don’t participate! Those who don’t go soulwinning are put on a major guilt trip and are they not allowed to be involved in the church. We do door to door canvassing, but we simply hand out gospel tracts and invite people to church. Of course, if we have the opportunity we will share the gospel with anybody who is interested.

I certainly believe that we should try to persuade sinners to trust Christ as their Savior, but we are to persuade them with gospel, not a soulwinning presentation. We need to have confidence in the power of the gospel (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:18; 1 Thess. 2:4). Just sincerely share the gospel the best way you know how. Use your personal testimony. Don’t put pressure on your self to “win souls.” We just need to give the gospel (1 Cor. 3:6-7) and trust the Holy Spirit to work in hearts through the word of God. Whether or not the sinner trusts Christ to be saved is between them and the Lord. We shouldn’t get in the way and act like we are some kind of mediator between God and men (1 Tim. 2:5).

It is the responsibility of every believer to be a faithful ambassador for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). Being an ambassador for Christ is a way of life, not a once-a-week program.



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