In our world right now, evangelism is one of the hardest activities to do. I'm pretty sure that almost no one envies it. Very few are doing it and especially in a scriptural fashion. Because of the difficulty, we need to have our motivation or purpose of and for evangelism down. We need to know why and what we are doing in evangelism. This has become much less easy as well because of a dust storm around the motivation and purpose of evangelism. It's hard to see through the cloud of sand what evangelism is about. This precipitates sitting on our hands in indecision with lips pressed together, then looking for something else to do while maybe we'll figure it out.
One of the statements you often here about evangelism is that it doesn't work. New methods for church growth occur because evangelism itself doesn't work. I've heard that many times. In our area right here right now, I've watched something curious. The two largest evangelical churches, which are not large compared to those in other parts of the country, don't do evangelism. Both of them are into modern church growth methods, which I know results in their churches expanding in numbers with more unsaved people. Their churches are full of unsaved people. I know this by talking to numbers of the members of their church. The gospel isn't clear to their people.
As a whole, the people in these two churches don't evangelize. They don't even talk about the gospel. They talk about how much they like their churches, because of all the stuff their churches have for them. Something is happening though. Both of the churches are less than about 40 years old with one of them about that old or a little older. The founding pastor is still the pastor in the older one. He is a Dallas Theological Seminary graduate. The church is an evangelical church that uses modern church growth methodology. The emphasis isn't on doctrine, but on making people feel welcome.
The second church has a younger pastor, a Trinity Evangelical Seminary grad in his forties, and he is using the same methodology as the first, except he pushes the envelope much further. He started doing this about ten to fifteen years ago. By my observation, the first one is shrinking in numbers, losing people, many of them, especially young ones, to the second evangelical church. This is a concern to the membership of the first. Their methods aren't working, because they are competing with the other church, using the same means. It's all about getting bigger numbers. The strategy is obviously even to pull from all the other churches in the area by attracting the most worldly people. Neither has taken one person from our church. Both of these churches would say that evangelism doesn't work and neither of them are evangelizing our area. People don't hear the gospel from them and when they do, it's watered down to make it palatable to a lost person. I believe this is normal today.
Both of the churches I describe above would justify what they do by the notion that evangelism itself doesn't work, so they don't evangelize. Some of their members, when we encounter them in person, congratulate our church for doing what we are doing in evangelism. They think it's "nice." They are happy that "we" are doing it. Their churches are built, however, on their not doing it themselves.
In my inbox, I get emails from Steven Anderson's online company, Framing the World. He's got his own videographer that is pushing his brand of false Christianity. I didn't subscribe, but he culled me or us in some way online. He is trying to pull from many other churches into his movement. Steven Anderson does not emulate everything that Jack Hyles did, but he does in evangelism. I perceive him to be identical to Jack Hyles when it comes to "soulwinning," including using that term predominately for evangelism. Anderson and his people are doing that a lot. They are doing a lot of this "soulwinning," as he terms it. He and his movement are growing in part from his method of soulwinning very much like the Jehovah's Witnesses have grown.
I get something about every other day from Anderson's company in my box and usually I just immediately delete. Yesterday, I didn't delete, because it was a promotion, what Framing the World called a "teaser," to watch a little clip or sample of a seminar Anderson was doing on soulwinning in the Detroit area. It seems that Anderson just rented a hotel meeting room, advertised that he was going to have this seminar, and then showed up to give it. It was not sponsored by any church in the area. However, in that assembly area, there were about 75-100 people or maybe a little more in their listening to his teaching on this subject.
In his little clip, Anderson talks about why soulwinning is relevant in 2018. He's not as dynamic as Hyles, but he is attracting people in great numbers compared to most. It's easy to see. In his presentation, first Anderson says that it's relevant because of the numbers in his meeting, including that they had seen already over "60 saved" there. I guarantee you that Anderson and his people did not see 60 saved in the meeting. This is the Hyles methodology, the 1-2-3 pray with me. Anderson uses that, copies what Hyles did. You might know that Anderson does not believe in repentance. He preaches that repentance comes after someone is saved, not in order for someone to be saved. Salvation is praying the prayer with him.
When Anderson says "soulwinning works," even though it is more difficult in some areas than others, he is saying that you see professions, prayers prayed everywhere and always. His basis for that is experience and then he quotes Psalm 126:6 as a guarantee.
He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
That verse is a guarantee of physical blessing for Israel in its future, based on the promises of God, actual real crops growing, like my other promises in the Old Testament. It is not about evangelism, but it is a common one for those like Anderson.
Anderson is attempting to motivate people to do what he believes and does and he speaks with great conviction. What he's saying is false, but he understands that motivation is important in this. His second point is that we can and will see great work today, much harvest today, that this is promised. He quotes John 4 with the woman at the well as a present tense guarantee of a great harvest (John 4:35).
Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.Anderson takes that passage out of context. The disciples could see the Samaritan men coming down toward them, as a result of the witness of the woman at the well. It was present tense, but it's not a guarantee of those present results. This is typical of fundamentalist sermons, however, that I would hear about motivation of evangelism.
Anderson says that in the old days, the "glory days," soulwinning was a more effective means for building a church than it is today. This exposes his false doctrine of salvation or his false gospel, same thing. People who "get saved" with Anderson's method don't necessarily end up in church and in a major way, he doesn't care. He says, "Maybe it doesn't work to build the church, but . . . it does work for, to get people saved." He continues, "If they keep going to the same church, so be it. If they don't end up going to church, so be it." If someone stays in his Catholic church after he's been "saved," or he doesn't even go to church, then he really hasn't been saved. Anderson is motivating his followers or adherents to go out and preach a false gospel, and he calls it soulwinning, but it's really motivating them to go out and make people twice the child of hell that they once were (Mt 23:15). Anderson's followers are not really evangelizing and part of it relates again to motivation and then what evangelism is.
What Anderson proposes to people and pushes them to do under the guise of actual soulwinning or some kind of work of God, which it isn't and is actually a complete perversion, makes it easier for them to do this thing. Motivation is at the forefront. They can do this and see great things happen. They can do it, because it's just getting people to pray prayers, which is much easier than actual evangelism. They can do it, because they'll see results, which will make them happy, feel like they did something eternal. People want that included in their lives. Both are lies from Anderson, but they are lies in the realm of motivation of people, to get them to do what he suggests.
The dust storm of evangelism about which I write here is about the motivation to evangelize and the biblical understanding of evangelism. Evangelism is occurring little because people don't understand what evangelism is and what motivates it. Churches have stopped doing it because they don't know what it is or why they should do it. If churches are not evangelizing, then they are missing one of the major points of their existence.