5. THE TYPICAL SOUL-WINNING PROGRAM DOESN’T EMPHASIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF ANSWERING SINCERE QUESTIONS.
This could go under the previous point of taking the time to be thorough and to deal with the sinner carefully, but I want to cover it under a separate point because of its importance.
At Bible College I was taught NOT to answer most questions during soul-winning situations. I was taught to stay with the verses of the “Romans Road” plan and to say, “That is a good question and we will get back to it later, but right now I would like to show you…”
There is a time for that approach, if the question would truly sidetrack the issue and if it is not necessary to answer it, but there are many questions that need to be answered before the person can properly understand the gospel and before he is ready to be saved.
The man that led me to Jesus Christ spent three or four entire days with me, patiently teaching me the Scriptures and answering the myriad of questions and arguments that I had, such as whether reincarnation is true or why a man can’t simply follow his heart or why God would send people to Hell who have never heard the gospel or how Hinduism is different than the Bible way. If he had put off my questions in the manner in which I was taught at Bible College, he would not have gotten very far with me. My questions reflected what I believed at the time, and they needed to be answered. The fact that he could give me Bible answers for questions I considered unanswerable impressed me greatly. And the fact that he could turn right to the relevant Bible passages was doubly impressive. I realized that this was a man who took his religious faith seriously and had made the effort to educate himself in it, and it was one of the main reasons why I was willing to listen to him.
It is important to understand the difference between a question that should be answered and a “foolish question” (2 Tim. 2:23; Titus 3:9-10). A foolish question is one that is asked insincerely with the objective of confusing the truth rather than finding it. It is something that is practiced by hardened rebels and heretics. Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, are often trained to ask foolish questions about such things as the Deity of Christ, death, heaven, and the bodily resurrection. They aren’t interested in your answer; they only want to push their own heresies, which are based on Scriptures that are twisted out of context.
6. THE TYPICAL SOUL-WINNING PROGRAM IS TOO FORMULAIC.
From my experience with soul-winning courses, they are typically too formulaic. The soul winner is taught a simple, pat plan that he uses in every case.
While it is good to have a plan and to know how to present the gospel, there is no one soul-winning formula taught in Scripture.
Christ is the pre-eminent Soul Winner and His dealings with people followed no set pattern. His dealing with the Woman at the Well (John 2) was dramatically different from His dealings with Nicodemus (John 3) or the Rich Young Ruler (Luke 19) or Zacchaeus (Luke 19) or the Pharisees (Matthew 23).
The same thing can be seen in Paul’s ministry. Consider his dealings with Lydia (Acts 16:14), the Philippian jailor (Acts 16:25-32), and the philosophers on Mars Hill (Acts 17).
The soul-winner must be in fellowship with the Lord so that he has God’s wisdom to discern people’s spiritual conditions and needs. Some questions should be answered and some ignored. Sometimes we must deal tenderly and sometimes sharply. Sometimes we must hammer the need to repent and sometimes this is unnecessary, as in the case of the Philippian Jailer. Sometimes we must spend a lot of time showing the person that he is a sinner and making him understand what sin is and removing his self-righteousness, while sometimes God has already shown him this.
7. THE TYPICAL SOUL-WINNING PROGRAM USES HUMAN PSYCHOLOGY AND SALESMANSHIP.
The late evangelist Carl Hatch was probably the epitome of this. He was called the world’s greatest soul winner” by Curtis Hutson and Jack Hyles. In a soul-winning seminar at Bob Gray’s Texas Baptist University, which I have on DVD, he taught the following technique:
Carl Hatch says:
I don’t ask anybody if they want to be saved. If you want a positive answer you must ask a positive question. If you want a no answer ask a no question. If you want a yes answer ask a yes question. Soul winning is positive. And in soul-winning, you use a lot of reverse psychology and psychology.
For instance, if you are lost and I say, “Mr. Smith, let me ask you a question. You don’t want to go to hell, do you?”
He will answer, No.
I say, “Wonderful, you want to go to heaven, don’t you?” He will say yes. I will reply, “Sure you do. Sure you do. Sure you do. Sure you do. I thank God for a man that doesn’t want to go to hell.”
Did you get that? I am reinforcing the fact that he wants to go to heaven. I’m keeping everything positive.
I don’t say, “Can I show this to you?” or “Do you mind if I read the Bible to you?” That’s negative and you will probably get a negative answer. I don’t ask people; I just say, “I’m so glad you don’t want to go to hell and I will just take a minute here to show you some verses. I don’t have long and I know you don’t, either. There are three things that you need to know. First, Jesus died for you. Isn’t that wonderful? Two, Jesus loves you. Isn’t that wonderful? Three, Jesus wants you to go to heaven. Isn’t that wonderful? And I’m so glad that you want to.”
See, I am being positive.
He may say he has a lot of questions, but unsaved people don’t have questions. Don’t get on unsaved people’s questions. Tell them that you will answer their questions later, but first, you want to read a few verses of Scripture. Unsaved people don’t have questions. If you get them saved, that answers all of them.
Let me tell you how to deal with someone who has a dumb spirit who bucks getting saved. You share the gospel and get them to the point of praying the sinner’s prayer, but they stop. How do you get that type of person saved? Now, this will work in most cases. If he is a man, put your hand on his shoulder and say, “Mr. Jones, I want to have prayer for you. I’m thrilled you want to go to heaven. God has been good to you. Bow your head with me. Then I pray, “Lord, I’m so thankful for this man that doesn’t want to burn in hell. I’m so thrilled he wants to go to heaven and not take his kids to hell. I thank you for this man. And I pray you will help him to see that need.” While our heads are still bowed, I say, “Mr. Jones, if you want heaven as your home and Christ as your Saviour, pray this prayer. Lord Jesus.” And if he doesn’t repeat that and tries not to pray, I squeeze his shoulder. I use this technique. If I am dealing with the president of the bank, I take his hand and when it comes time for him to pray, I squeeze his hand. We’ve titled that the Carl Hatch squeeze. It works. If I am dealing with a woman, I ask her to put her hand on the Bible, and when it comes time to pray I just tap her hand gently. It works; it works.
The previous is from a Carl Hatch soul-winning seminar at Texas Baptist University.
This is nothing more than cheap salesmanship. It might be a good way to sell a used car but it is a bad way to win souls to Christ. There is not a hint of such a thing in Scripture. We can’t imagine the Lord Jesus or the apostles doing such a thing. When Jesus dealt with the woman at the well, He didn’t ask a bunch of leading questions to keep the subject positive. He is the one who brought up the woman’s immoral lifestyle. When He dealt with Nicodemus, He confronted the man with his need for the new birth, which Nicodemus didn’t find positive at all. Christ told the rich young ruler to sell everything he had and follow Him. He told people if they didn’t repent they would perish, which is a very negative approach (Luke 13:1-5). He told the people that only those who continue in His Word are His true disciples (John 8:30-31). Jesus and the evangelists in the early churches knew absolutely nothing of the Carl Hatch squeeze.
SOWING AND REAPING: A COURSE IN EVANGELISM.
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