Sunday, April 23, 2006

More Soulwinning Discussion

I didn't realize what a chord my soulwinning post on Saturday would hit! We are commanded to "preach the gospel to every creature" but when those creatures won't listen or aren't interested, how are we to carry out that commission?!

Melody wrote a blog entry today on the differences in certain areas of the US in attitudes toward soulwinners. The more people comment on my post, and now after Melody's, the more I realize that what we're experiencing here is more widespread than I had thought. Wes had an interesting observation this morning. He said he believes that people are hardened to the Gospel in the south (and other areas of the US) because they are saturated with it - they've heard it all their lives, and now someone is knocking on their door with it (speaking generally here!). Here in Canada, there is a famine of the Gospel - soulwinning and solid, fundamental churches preaching the Gospel are not common (we could use more help up here, by the way, should the Lord touch your heart for Canada! LOL). So, especially here in the Vancouver area, where it's truly a multi-cultural society, thus multi-faith, people see Christianity as just another religion, and Baptists as just one facet of that religion, and so they don't want to hear it.

Melody dropped by my blog and left a comment, and within that comment asked this question:

Doesn't it seem that as a result, we should become more creative in sharing the Gospel in other ways?

I do believe we need to be more creative, and this is something I've been thinking about this week anyway. I read a book by Janette Oke earlier this week (The Measure of a Heart) in which a young woman marries a pastor and they minister in a small town. The one thing that struck me in this book is that this young woman did not go out door to door to win her neighbors, although she accompanied her husband to visit once or twice a week; she reached out to them through her everyday life: taking a bit of baked custard to her elderly, crotchety neighbor, reacting with calmness and kindness when the neighborhood boys broke her bedroom window with their baseball; helping in the kitchen when she and her husband visited a new family in town that very clearly were not interested in church. In all these situations, she extended friendship to people, got to know them, and they saw first-hand her Christianity lived out day to day.

That really made a strong impression on me. I don't believe in only lifestyle evangelism; we do need to be actively seeking out people to witness to. But I'm coming to the conclusion that we have to also befriend people. For example, the only contact I have with our immediate neighbors is when we are getting in our cars at the same time or knocking on their door when their music gets too loud. I haven't reached out to them as people, yet I pray for them to be saved. I had been blinded into thinking that my witness to them should be limited to inviting them to church and hopefully getting to witness to them . . . when? On the way out the door?! I'm quite amazed at the attitude I've had! So now I'm trying to find ways to reach out to them and our other neighbors. I don't know how, really. I'm a little shy and uncomfortable in unfamiliar situations. Maybe the Lord will help me and show me how to befriend my neighbors. Melody, I couldn't agree with you more . . . we do need to be more creative in sharing our testimonies, and people need to see real Christians with real testimonies. I think they're probably tired of "church people" who ignore them except when they want them to come to church for something.

15 comments:

  1. Susan,
    I don't know if you are aware of the Way of the Master materials for witnessing. We have been using them for the last three years and rarely come across people who are not at least willing to listen. That's not just here in Texas, Gene's been out to Los Angeles witnessing and has had similar results. I would suggest that you listen to the audios at the links I will give you. They may change the way you evangelize and help you to reach people more effectively. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

    Hell's Best Kept Secret:
    http://www.livingwaters.com/learn/hellsbestkeptsecret.htm

    True/False Conversions:
    http://www.livingwaters.com/listenwatch2.shtml

    In Him,
    Lora

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  2. I think it helps, too, to remember that we are telling people about something wonderful that has been offered.Sometimes I think people feel they have been singled out as the "bad" people that the Christians are coming to change and they are immediately defensive. In my mind, telling someone about Christ is alot like sharing things about your children or anything else you love...you share it because you can't help yourself...you just love Him so much and are so grateful. I, of course, am not saying that you're doing it any other way but I know that sometimes even as a Christian I'm a little put off by some approaches of witnessing people. I admire what you're doing. I can't imagine being shy and then going door to door knowing the reactions you're probably going to get. I think God must be smiling on you. :)

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  3. hmmm I think Blogger is having trouble today. Most posts on different blogspot blogs have 0 comments but then when you click on it, there they are. Anyway, Susan..I added you to my fave links on my blog. If that's not ok just let me know and I'll remove it in a jiffy (Blogger-willing, that is).

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  4. "Maybe the Lord will help me and show me how to befriend my neighbors."

    This is something that I've been thinking about as well. We hardly ever see our neighbors - they seem to not come and go much. By nature, I am a very shy person. I'd be perfectly happy just sitting in my house keeping to myself. Yet we are to share Christ with others. I've wondered about making some sort of goodies to take to neighbors (I love to bake)...but I still chicken out when I think about it...perhaps I need to be praying for boldness!

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  5. Susan, I admire you for going door to door and giving your best effort to witness - especially since you are shy! I have the same feelings about my neighbors and like Melody in the previous post, I have thought about baking something to take to them but just haven't done it.

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  6. I loved this post Susan! Your thoughts have been mine as well.

    I also liked what Melody said here:

    Yet we are to share Christ with others. I've wondered about making some sort of goodies to take to neighbors (I love to bake)...but I still chicken out when I think about it...perhaps I need to be praying for boldness!

    I think we need to witness with our mouths and do kind and thoughtful things for others. Donna on her blog lady of blessings had a good example of this.....

    Her new neighbor stopped them while they were doing yard work and asked if they knew of anyone who mows lawns. Donna and her son offered to mow the lady's lawn for her and they did it. That took effort and sacrifice and I bet that touched that lady's heart.

    So now Donna probably has a way in to talk with her about Christ because the lady's heart will be softend towards her.

    Just sharing my thoughts....not trying to sound 'preachy'! LOL This post just excited me!

    Blessings!
    ~Mrs. B

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  7. Susan,

    this is totally off the topic but I was wondering if you could help me with putting links on my blog. We have the same template and I just can't seem to make it work. Could you help me?

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  8. Rachel5:13 PM

    Hello Sis Susan! I'm sorry for getting in on this discussion a little late. :) I'd like to add a few thoughts if I may. First of all, when we knew we were going to have to move last year, one thing we prayed for in a church is that it was a soul-winning church. We did not have much "experience" in this area of going door-to-door but knew that going was a command and that God does bless those churches that do. When we first started going on Thur eve with our church, I was pretty nervous (OK, I was VERY nervous and was actually praying that I would be able to go with a certain other lady...God answered my prayer and Courtney and I were both able to go with her that night.) Anyway, I was so impressed with her gracious manner in speaking with all sorts of people we came in contact with. I realize that the Lord was speaking through her...you could actually see people "let down their wall of resistance" as she talked with them. This of course opened the door for her to ask them if they were on their way to heaven. Sometimes she was able to give them the gospel, and sometimes just leave a tract for them to read. The Lord has allowed me to glean much from her...Courtney and I have seen the Lord "break that cold front" that people put up when they know why we are approaching them. One man in particular heard us talking to someone else in a laundromat. By the time we got to him, he had his "speech" prepared before we even got one word out. Normally, this would have taken me aback, offended me, brought me to tears, :) etc. but God gave me the "soft answer" for him and you could just see him relax. Though he did not get saved, he went from total resistance to actually giving me his name so I could pray for him. Some things I have learned in the short time is, Pray before going, God blesses going, and God will not fail you...He will give you the words to say when you do go. I will be the first to admit that I have been VERY slack in this area of witnessing...not because I did not see the need, but because of fear. But God is helping me as He said He would. I do believe we need to befriend people, but I think we need so share the gospel at the same time. We never know when that person will leave this earth. Many people may not get saved the first time you witness to them, but if you continue to show that you are concerned for their soul, I believe that many will see that love and know that you are sincere. Last week, Caleb (my 14 year old) and I were partners. He has been going out for several months now with his Sunday School teacher. Caleb told me last week when we were out that he was praying that the Lord would allow him to meet a boy his age...he was ready now to give someone the gospel! :) I'm excited for him because I know God is going to answer his prayer. One final thought...though we may not see any results, we need to remember that our command is to "Go" and it is God (not us) that gives the increase. Some are able to do the planting, others watering and still others that actually see that increase.
    Sorry for writing such a long comment. :)

    Sis Rachel

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  9. Oh, Susan, I just wrote a long, long comment and just lost it! I'll come back tomorrow because it's someone else's time on the computer now.

    I'll share what we did for friendship evangelism in our neighborhood in Williamsburg. :)

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  10. Thank you so much, ladies, for all your gracious and wise comments! You've all been an encouragement to me today.

    Lora, I will take a look at those links you posted - thanks for taking the time to do that!

    Lisa, I think you may have a point there about how we come across at times, especially unknowingly. I've never had the attitude that I'm here to rescue this poor lost sinner, but that may be their perception.

    Melody, I'm like you and think of things to do and then chicken out! And Terri and Mrs. B, I really do believe a combination of verbally witnessing through going door to door, and then doing the practical, kind things for those who live near us.

    Rachel, thank you for your comment - and it wasn't too long! You spoke with a lot of wisdom, and it was a blessing to me. As I've gotten discouraged in this area, the only thing that keeps me going is that it's a command and God promises to honor obedience and give fruit for our labor. One thing that another pastor here has told us is that he has been faithful to go soulwinning, and even though he hasn't seen results from that, the Lord has sent people into their church through other means and seen them saved. So God does indeed give the increase, even when we don't see where it's going to come from! Do you think your soulwinning partner would like to come to Vancouver?! ;)

    Terri, can you e-mail me about your links, and I'll see if I can help. What I learned has been through trial and error!

    And Deb . . . I don't know what's up with Blogger the past few days. I had a reply all ready this afternoon, and Blogger ate it. I'm looking forward to your comment!

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  11. Rachel8:32 PM

    Sis Susan...

    I promise this won't be as long. :) I had already been thinking of a timely message we heard down at Faith Baptist Camp last summer by Bro Larry Brown (Iowa). He preached on "God, the Investor" and much of his message was on how God "invests" (blesses) those churches that are busy doing something for the Lord.
    I, too, have heard preachers tell how God has sent people to their church...not necessarily the ones that they had visited...but God was still blessing their obedience to Him.
    Sis Rachel

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  12. A few years ago when we lived in Wmsbg, the Lord gave us a burden for our neighbors. I have to admit that I'm not good at cold turkey door-to-door evangelism; I'm more for the lasting friendship/ lifestyle evangelism where your neighbors see the real way you live day-to-day and want to find out about who Jesus Christ is and how He affects your life just by watching you. After all, the Lord didn't plop us down in a totally Christian subdivision where everyone goes to our church and serves and loves Him. God puts us just in the neighborhood where He wants us and around the very people He wants us to influence.

    So...we decided to start praying for our neighbors. Our subdivision back then had about 50 - 75 or so homes, and of course we didn't know everyone's name. So we made up descriptive names for them: grumpy man who walks his spaniel, bow-legged man who runs, white column house, Japanese neighbors, AOP (someone's license plate we always saw), and others.

    These descriptions, along with the names we did know, we wrote down on our large white erasable board and prayed over them every day. We began to know these people a little more intimately just by bringing them to our minds in prayer every morning.

    After we felt that we had saturated them in prayer, we decided to have three ice cream socials in our driveway and invite the neighbors--three different ones so it wouldn't be too crowded at one time and so we could get to know them better.

    LOTS of neighbors came, enjoyed ice cream, got to know us and their fellow neighbors, and then moseyed on back down the street to their homes. Good relaxing contact.

    Then we let some time pass (with more prayer) before going around and inviting them to come to our home to a bible study (basic study in John on Who Jesus Christ Is).

    We had several to come--certainly not as many as we had wished for but that's okay. We worked with the ones the Lord brought our way. But not long after we began, we were transferred away from the area. We often pray for those neighbors that someone else would come along and water and reap the increase where we planted.

    In a Christmas note after we moved, our Japanese neighbor told us she did find Christ because of our friendship and the bible study. It was well worth all the effort for that one soul.

    Now, we've been here in our present location for awhile. We're beginning to start those same efforts in this smaller subdivision--only 12 families here.

    In March a new older single guy moved in. We thought that would be just the "excuse" to have everyone over and welcome him to our area. My husband has already made contact with him, and we're waiting for him to get back to us with a good date before we go around and invite everyone else over to our driveway for refreshments.

    The girls also recently took around some extra cake slices to several neighbors, so we've made some contacts through the girls' baking skills. One couple invited them in and talked and talked...so thankful for the visit and generosity. They actually acted like no one from the neighborhood had ever been to their door before.

    So, I think when the Lord has given you definite neighbors to be around, He has given you a mini-mission field right there, and we should take advantage of it.

    Pray for us as we befriend these folk and for our testimonies to be a shining light in front of them as we work in the yard, go in and out on our main road, and as we invite them over to get to know them better. Pray that some of them would be open to a home bible study to find out more about the great God we serve.

    Thanks for the topic, Susan.

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  13. Hi, Susan -

    I don't have your e-mail address to ask you about the link problems. Mine is tsmcorbitt@aol.com.

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  14. Terri, I'm sorry! I thought I had made my e-mail addy public the other day, but I didn't. It's there now, but I'll e-mail you later today. So sorry about that!

    Deb, thanks so much for your testimony of how you witnessed to your neighbors - and how thrilling that your Japanese friend did accept the Lord, even after you had moved away!

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  15. Ok, I'm well aware that this is months after the original post.....but....

    Susan, thanks for being so transparent about soulwinning. Our present church does not have an emphasis on door-to-door contact like the way Stephen and I feel it is supposed to be. It has been easy to forget about soulwinning on a regular basis since we have been here.

    With Christmas coming up though, I have plenty of reasons to bake. :O) I have neighbors who would love goodies, it's a great witnessing opportunity, and I can't eat the goodies anymore so I can use that as my excuse! That just excites me. I had been praying for a way to witness to one of our neighbors - she is so close to attending church.

    We live a block from the church, so we walk there for most services. I know the neighbors see us.....what a motivator!

    Amazing how God can use posts like this that have been up there in cyberspace for months to convict me!

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Thanks for taking a minute to read my ramblings and leave a comment! I appreciate it!

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