Salvation and the Local Church
Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame, 1st Corinthians 15:34.
We are at the tail end of a half century wherein churches practiced a concerted effort to send "soul winning" teams all throughout their local neighborhoods to reach every person in their town or city. For a while during this time, "soul winning" clinics and classes were held wherein each and every participant was taught how to to direct every conversation into a discussion of heaven or hell, saved or lost.
The end result of this rather novel approach to universal evangelism has been the shrinking of any effect churches have in their respective communities, the shrinking of congregations, the closure of churches in small communities, the lethargy of what few people most churches have left, and a couple of generations who have no desire for the faith of their parents.
About 16 years ago, I attended a church whose pastor faithfully knocked on doors every single Thursday evening. He organized his church members to do their own canvassing of the area on Thursday nights. He had been a pastor in that community for many years, but there was no person in that church who he had won to the Lord. I asked him about his track record.
Looking straight at him, I asked, "After 30 years in the ministry, is there any person in any church anywhere in the world who currently occupies a pew in any bible believing church who would testify that they had been unconverted until such time as you found them and led them to a saving knowledge in Jesus Christ?". "No" was his short answer. He looked at me like I had two heads. It didn't seem to occur to him that such an outcome mattered.
He had been trained in some goofball bible college in Hammond, Indiana and he intended to keep on doing the same thing over and over as long as he lived. To him, that was the calling. I was saved in January of 1982. At that time, Oliver Greene had been dead for ten years. Yet, I ran into his converts in almost every church that I visited. To this day, I still hear occasional people speak of being won to the Lord through the preaching or ministry of Oliver Greene.
Likewise, I have talked with converts of J. Frank Norris. I know many converts of Evangelist Sammy Allen. I have sat under the preaching of men won to the Lord by Tom Malone. What I have never run into is a convert of the founder and namesake of the goofball school in Indiana. He claimed more converts than all of those other men combined. I have met a few men who were saved while at that school, but they always speak of the preaching of a visiting speaker, not him. Search the internet. Try to find converts of that man.
The reality decades later is that the whole heavy pressure, soul winning schtick was a fraud perpetrated upon an unwitting generation of pastors who opened their churches to it. A gospel void of Holy Ghost wrought conviction, fear, and repentance has left the churches bankrupt. Churches grow today by enticing others who already believe as they do to come to their church. In towns with many churches this has led to a game of musical chairs.
I am not going to argue theories with anyone. I was saved after a convert of Oliver Greene took the time to woo me to Christ when I thought I had no need. I had been the victim of a repentenceless gospel. The Black Creek Baptist Church is a vessel filled with the fruits of bible salvation. Drug addicts are free. Their homes are testimonies to the grace of God. Drunks no longer drink booze. Fornicators and adulterers live wholesome lives with the joy of God. Felons are preachers.
I built relationships with these people. I loved them. I sacrificially gave to them. I made my home to be a welcome spot for them. I endured their bad behavior with gentle reproofs. I proved to them that there really was a word of God that they could read and hold in their hands. They began to find the house of God to be a refuge from a cruel hard world.
I preached doctrine to them from the pulpit until they began to think in bible terms. I took each and every one of them to the throne of grace in prayer. Today, they lift up holy hands without wrath or doubting and give praise to Jesus Christ who loved them and gave himself for them.
I defended them from the Fundamentalist super-soul winners who wanted to make them a notch on their belts. These men boast of zillions of converts. In reality, they only have numbers. Gladly would they turn my people into numbers to feed their own egos. My people would have become like all of the other victims of these men, lost and drifting in the world without victory or hope.
Do you want to see your church have fruit? Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you, John 15:16. If Jesus Christ really did choose you to serve him, do you have fruit that has remained? Can you stand against your peers? Can you truly believe that there really is a Holy Ghost and he really can move the heart of a sinner and he really can cause the Spirit of God to bear witness with their spirit?
Are you still deceived into thinking that the trite little prayer these people believe is what the Apostle Paul meant when he talked about calling on the name of the Lord? How shall they call upon him in whom they have not believed?, Romans 10:14. For far too long our churches have watched people bring monopoly money for faith when they have prayed for deliverance. We watch them walk away with monopoly money for salvation. We spend our time doing what the Holy Ghost cannot and will not do. We convince them they they have eternal life. Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered morter, Ezekiel 13:10.
Please feel free to contact me. My book, Who moved the Goal Posts? : A Critique of 21st Century Soul Winning is on Kindle. I have mailed a free copy to each and every person who has desired one.