My books on soul winning, Win Them, Save Some, and Drawing the
Net, have been so
well received that I make bold to launch a companion book, INVITE THEM,
on the sea of soul
winning. Jesus said, "Go out and INVITE them to come."
Nowhere does the
soul winner, unless it is while dealing with seekers as they kneel in
prayer, need more tact, more courtesy, more common sense, and more
grace than when doing
personal work during an invitation. In my early evangelistic
saw this need and often gathered chosen workers
together and gave this message. Now, with a prayer that it may
others, I present these
suggestions by means of the printed page.
1. A Great Asset
3. The Raised Hand
5. When Shall We Go?
6. Pray for Guidance
7. Have an Answer
9. Dealing with Strangers
10. Don't Argue
Dealing with Couples
12. One at a Time
13. Don't Block Traffic
14. A Time to Stop
15. Trust God
16. Secure a Commitment
17. Remove Every Barrier
18. B's for Personal Workers
19. Some Things to Avoid
A GREAT ASSET
One of the greatest assets in any revival or other
evangelistic service is sane, spiritual
personal work during the invitation.
In the twenty-seven years of my own evangelistic work my best
meetings have been in
places where there were a few good Christian people who went out into
the audience and invited
men to come and definitely seek the Lord. The objection is
that doing personal work during a revival will drive people
away. That is true, if it is improperly done, but the right
not drive anyone away but will
have a tendency to hold people and eventually bring them to Christ.
Knowing the value of the right kind and the danger of the improper kind
of personal work
during the invitation, I offer the following suggestion: Let the
pastor, or the evangelist and pastor, choose spiritual people in whom
confidence. Call them together to instruct them in the best
approaching people about
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There are certain definite qualifications necessary in
order to be an efficient personal
worker and soul winner. You should have a sincere passion for
This comes, and will increase, through prayer
and practice. If you would gain a burden for souls, begin to pray
souls and work to bring them to
Christ and the passion or burden will come automatically. You
tactful, gentle, sincere, and courteous. These graces are always
order. You should have a personal and scriptural knowledge of
salvation. The man who goes
forth to deal with others must know that he himself is right with
You may have all these qualifications and yet be "as sounding brass, or
a tinkling cymbal,"
if God be not with you in the work. Keep in mind it is "not by
nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."
Dr. Biederwolf once
asked a prominent churchman,
at the front seat during the
invitation, to go into the audience and do personal work. The man
responded, but when he spoke to
an individual, one standing near heard this reply:
"Who are you to come back and talk to me? What is it that I
you do not do? I swear
and you swear. I drink and so do you, for we have drunk
play poker and so do you, for I
have played with you. Who are you to ask me to get saved?
better get saved yourself." The churchman turned and walked back
front. When Dr. Biederwolf looked
questioningly at him he said, "Doctor, I guess I am not adapted to this
kind of work." Neither is anyone else unless he personally knows
There is yet another qualification which many may
yet which all may do something
about. That is, one should have a pleasant breath. Bad breath has
repulsed many an individual and
has been so offensive he could not listen to the worker's appeal. A
pastor friend told me that he spoke to a businessman about going
forward for prayer. The
preacher said: "I looked upon him as my friend, but he seemed cold and
retiring and I could not
understand it. "I met him the next day and, calling me by name, he
said, 'John, if you ever speak to anyone
else about becoming a Christian, before doing so, take something for
your breath to keep it from
being so offensive. Then when you draw near him he can listen to what
you have to say.'" The words which the man used were cruel and cutting.
Nevertheless, the advice was good.
"Watch your breath."
3. THE RAISED HAND
It is always best to sit toward the rear in a revival
service where, without being
conspicuous, you can have a good view of the audience and see who raise
their hands. The raised hand is a step toward God and an
interest in prayer. It gives the
worker who sees it an advantage. He can make his approach with
more confidence, knowing
that the person is interested. When you speak to the individual,
mention the raised hand. If he does not yield in
that service, he will be slow to lift his hand again lest he attract
someone to him.
Always co-operate, no matter who is in charge of the service.
when and as the leader
suggests. You may not always agree with the method, but unless
a principle involved,
co-operate in the plan proposed or being used. After all, "My
are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord" (Isa. 55:8). Even
Jesus was on earth, there
were some whose methods did not suit the disciples, yet their work bore
fruit and the Master said,
"Forbid them not." If the leader says, "Everyone bow your head,"
co-operate. You can do that and still watch
for the raised hand. If he asks everyone to cease talking for a
stop immediately, so the one
with whom you are dealing can hear the speaker. The appeal he is
may be the very thing
that will cause your prospect to yield and go forward.
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WHEN SHALL WE GO?
The best time to do personal work, unless the leader
has instructed otherwise, is to start
immediately. Start as soon as the Invitation is given. At
the close of
a searching evangelistic message that has gripped the hearts of the
and when the spirit of conviction is on them, the tension is very
great. It is difficult, at such a time, for a sinner to step out alone
and go forward for prayer. When
workers are moving around, it helps to break that tension and makes it
easier for the unsaved to
move out. As a rule there is more conviction immediately after
message than there is later on.
Therefore, immediate action is more likely to pay off.
Never wait to start your personal work until the
said, "We will sing just one
more stanza and close the invitation." If you start then, the
may be over before you reach the individual whom you wish to
win. The preacher must keep faith with his audience, and if
to close after one stanza
is finished he should do it. Yet the work that you might have
accomplished if you had started
sooner may be lost. Don't wait.
If you are near the front of the church and you
wish to speak to some
individual, it is
always best to lose yourself in the crowd before you approach him.
People are prone to watch a worker to see to whom he is going.
Sometimes this attracts
attention and proves embarrassing. It is better to move down some
aisle and inconspicuously approach the one to whom
you wish to speak.
PRAY FOR GUIDANCE
As you go into an audience to speak to the
it should always be with a spirit of
prayer. Ask God to guide you to the right person and help you to
the right words. Never wait until you feel definitely led before
go. The devil will hinder you at this
point. He will try to keep you from feeling led and some soul may
lost. Jesus said, "When ... the Spirit ... is come, he will guide
..." (John 16:13). It is my opinion that we should go forth in
strength of the Lord, praying for Him to guide
us to the person with whom He would have us deal.
I remember one night in a great camp
meeting when my
colaborer, who was preaching,
reached the invitation and there seemed to be considerable lethargy on
the part of the Christians. I
know it was on me. I did not feel led to do anything. However, duty
a knowledge of the fact that there were
souls there who were lost caused me to leave the platform and make my
way around the
tabernacle. As I walked, I prayed for God to guide me to someone. I
felt no leading whatever and started walking down the center aisle back
to the platform. As I passed a young woman it seemed to me that
"Speak to her." I did. She
went forward and was converted and in a few weeks she died and went to
heaven. Suppose I had waited until I felt led; she might never have
been saved. Go! Go at once! Trust God and pray for guidance.
HAVE AN ANSWER
"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be
ready always to
give an answer to every
man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness
and fear" (I Pet. 3:15). When you speak to an individual, pray
you wait for his reply. Always have a
scripture ready for the excuse the unsaved may make. In my little
I give twenty-five different excuses commonly made by the
unsaved and under each from six to nine verses of scripture answering
the excuse. Every worker should know these scriptures and be
give a Bible answer to those
who endeavor to give a reason for not seeking God.
An effective weapon, when you are dealing with
seeking the Lord, is your
personal testimony. This is why it is so necessary for a soul
know God. When the unsaved meet you with such excuses as, "I am
great a sinner," "I have gone
too far," or, "God does not love me," you can give a direct answer by
quoting Isa. 1:18 and John
3:16, and then you have your personal testimony. Tell them what
did for you. Tell them how you thought there was no use, that you
never be saved. Tell them how you felt, if you were once saved,
you could never live the Christian life. Tell them how you were
persuaded to seek God and how He wonderfully saved
you. Tell them how, by His grace, for all these months or years
graciously kept you. Tell them, if you were bound by some habit,
God delivered you.
DEALING WITH STRANGERS
Do not be too urgent with strangers who may be
in the audience for the first time.
It is all right to approach them and courteously inquire if they are
saved or if they would
like to go forward for prayer. However, if they decline, tell
are glad to have them in the service. Urge them to
return and courteously promise to pray for them. This will
and it will not offend. On the other hand, to put pressure on
the first service may drive them away. I know there are
in most instances you will find that caution at this point is
Are You Saved? It is seldom wise for a worker to ask, "Are you a
Christian?" There are several
denominations that have the word "Christian" attached to their names,
and to people who are not
used to revivals it is often confusing.
I once asked a young man in Dallas, "Is your
Christian?" He answered, "No. She is a Methodist." I said, "Wouldn't
she be glad for you to be a
Christian?" He replied, "No. But she would like for me to be a
Methodist." The young man was confused and thinking only of the
A better way of putting it would be, "Are you
or, "Have you been born again?"
Accept Testimony If you ask a person, "Are you saved?" and he answers
in the affirmative, always accept his
testimony. Even if you feel sure he has not been converted, it is
best to act as if you doubt him or
question his statement. I have often said, "I am glad that you
saved and I wonder if you have a deeper need and
would like to go forward and let us talk and pray with you."
Oftentimes, after such an approach people have stepped out and
definitely settled things
A Church Member
You will find many people who will answer your
question, "Are you saved?" with the
reply, "I am a church member." Often they will mention the name
their church. Never cast reflections on any denomination whether
think the doctrine is straight or
not. We never know what strong ties of friends or loved ones may
in a denomination. To
criticize that church may do serious damage. A better way would
say, "We are not asking you to join our church, but wouldn't you
like to let us pray with you that you might find a closer walk with
God?" This is an age-old method, but it has its appeal and
members of formal
churches have been swept into the Kingdom by it.
The wise worker will never argue with the one to
whom he is
speaking. There are three
good reasons for this. The invitation is no time or place for an
argument. Argument will attract the attention of those around you
will detract from the work of
the evangelist or pastor. An argumentative person is seldom under
conviction and contending with him will not
likely help him. When you find someone so inclined, it is best to
on quickly to someone else. I have known people who delighted in
attending a revival and arguing with every worker
who came to them. In almost every instance it greatly hinders the
Do Not Offend
Be careful never to bore or embarrass the person
whom you are dealing. If you find
you have offended him, be quick to apologize. In such instances I
said: "I am very sorry if I have offended you. I was only
in your soul. Please forgive me. I will not bother you again but
pray for you." Such a spirit of humility and courtesy will help you and
it will help the one offended. He
will leave with less resentment but with a feeling of shame that he has
taken a wrong attitude.
More than once I have had such individuals return and get saved, and
later testify that they
left the service feeling mean and miserable because they had taken that
attitude toward a worker
who was interested in their souls.
DEALING WITH COUPLES
In dealing with a couple, if one goes forward, I
have often been able to get the other to go
by saying: "Why don't you go and kneel with him? You may not be
interested but it will help him
and will not hurt you. Don't you believe if it was the other way
he would come and kneel
by you?" I can recall many instances, after such an appeal, the
individual has responded and both
received definite help from God. When the one not responding to
invitation claims to be a Christian, appeal to him to go
and pray for his companion or friend. I have known this appeal to
the beginning of a closer
walk with God for those to whom it was made.
A Married Couple
If you are dealing with a married couple with
children, appeal to them on behalf of their
little ones. Impress upon them how every child needs a Christian
a Christian father and
mother, and it is not only their privilege but their duty to give such
a home to their children.
Out of Place "Wisecracks," silly or humorous
remarks are always out of
place when dealing with a soul.
Never make cutting or harsh statements. Crude, cutting, and
words have no place in the
vocabulary of one when he is inviting a man or woman to the altar of
If you find resentment in the persons whom you
leave them immediately. There
may be various reasons for their attitude. It may be that they do
like your looks. Personalities of some people clash on
they just do not wish to be bothered. They may have heard
which makes them doubt you. Unwholesome rumors may have come to
which they believe.
If they resent you, they have a reason or think they have. Their
resentment, however, is no excuse for you to give them up. If you
cannot reach them
personally, you may be able to find someone else who can deal with them
and win them to Christ.
I remember the night I was
converted. I very much
the man who came and spoke to
me. I did not know the man. It was just a personality clash. I did not
like his looks and he sensed it
and quickly left. This worker was not only as "harmless as a dove" but
"wise as a serpent." Unknown to me
he went around to another individual and, pointing me out, said, "I
want you to go and invite that
young man to come to the altar and I will stay here and pray for you."
The worker he solicited to help him came and spoke words that caused me
to yield and go
forward and give my heart to God. If one resents you, do not give him
up but try to reach him in another way.
ONE AT A TIME
Unless you are the evangelist, avoid approaching a
with whom someone else is
dealing. If you feel you must speak to him, it is best to stand
for a moment, and most
workers not making headway themselves will give you an
However, if you are the one who brought the message, a few words from
you may be just
the thing to bring about a decision to seek God.
Your Enemy Never try to work with a person with whom you have had
difficulty or a misunderstanding.
You may be innocent but he does not think so. If you are
interested in his salvation, pray
for him. Send others to him but stay away from him yourself until
has settled the question with
DON'T BLOCK TRAFFIC
Avoid standing in the way, physically, of the
person whom you are trying to win. I have seen a worker stand
between the seats, and the person with
whom he was dealing
would have difficulty getting past him into the aisle. Always
one side. Make it easy for him to move. Say to him, "If you
am sure these folks will be glad to let you pass." Sometimes it
to say to the person between him and the aisle, "Would you please
step aside and permit him to pass?" Use the same type of courtesy
would with a guest in your home. Scores of times when I
have seen a worker "blocking" the way, I have walked back and said, "I
am sure this friend wants
to come; please let him pass," and immediately he has stepped out.
A TIME TO STOP
It is not often wise to continue dealing with a
after the invitation is finished. As a rule most of the
forward to work with those who are seeking the Lord.
Those who do not, usually take their seats. This makes the person
whom you are speaking more conspicuous than when many were
standing around you. As a result, he is often embarrassed and
very resentful. Sometimes, as a last resort, as the invitation
it is possible to get him to kneel at his
seat. It is worth trying, but I have known few who received
help. If he does not quickly respond to your appeal to kneel
is, immediately leave him
and go work with those who have manifested enough interest to go
A businessman attended a revival service I was
Montana. He was known to the
pastor and some of the people but had never been in the church before.
When the invitation started, an overzealous lady began talking to him
and continued talking
after the invitation closed. He courteously kept standing. They were
the only two people in the
church on their feet When she finally left him, without even being
seated he picked up his hat,
walked out, and never returned. I have always felt that he might have
come back if she had been more tactful, for he seemed
very interested during the earlier part of the service.
If you are dealing with one of your own sex, it is
usually best when
you approach him to
shake hands and endeavor to hold his hand while you talk with
Sometimes a gentle pressure
forward is just what is needed to get him to go. However, never
pull or force people to the altar or inquiry room. I have seen
few times, but it seldom works and often drives folks away. If
dealing with the opposite sex, always be careful. People are
Over-familiarity brings criticism. The meeting, souls, and you
may be harmed. Solomon said, "He that winneth souls is
wisdom will manifest itself in many
ways and one sign of wisdom is carefulness in dealing with the opposite
sex. This is one way and
place that the soul winner should always be wise.
Do not be discouraged because the person to whom
does not respond.
Remember the battle is God's. We are "workers together with him"
Cor. 6:1), and the fact that
you do not see immediate results is no sign that God was not with you
and blessing in all you did. It sometimes takes many days and
even many people, many months, and many
years to bring a soul to Christ. Looking back across the years
up to my conversion, I can now see where there
were eight different people, some far removed and unknown to others,
who had a definite part in
bringing me to Christ. Some passed on to heaven without ever
that the godless boy for
whom they prayed was finally saved.
If the evangelist makes a proposition while you
are speaking to
an individual, always cease
talking immediately and give him a chance to hear what the preacher has
to say. What he is proposing may have more influence upon your
than what you are
saying. As soon as the leader has finished, urge an acceptance of
appeal and try to get him to go
forward at once.
SECURE A COMMITMENT
If you cannot get the one to whom you are talking
to go forward,
always endeavor to get
him to make a commitment before he leaves. Get him to promise to
some scripture, that you
may designate, and to pray for his own soul. Assure him that God
meet him anywhere, that He will save him on his way home or by
his bedside or anywhere else when the conditions are met.
can get him to promise to return and settle it at the next
Urge him to
come back, and assure him you will be there to help him and pray for
Make It Short
It is usually not best to deal with an individual
long. If you don't seem to be making
progress, leave him and perhaps someone else can be more
know there have often been times in my own experience that I made no
the first time, but I have gone away and later in the same service
returned and spoken again and the
one spoken to yielded. I have had good results by going to an
person who was regularly attending
services and saying, not merely for effect, but because it was true,
"God has placed you on my
heart and I am praying definitely for you." I have spoken to such
similar way several times before actually trying to get them to go
forward. The results have been very gratifying.
In many church meetings today, to respond to the
invitation means to join that particular
church. Therefore, we should always make it plain that responding
the call to go forward for
prayer does not obligate anyone, in any way, to join the church.
folks that every Christian should have a church home and they may be
the church where they now attend. Say to them: "We are not trying
get you to join the church. We want to help you to a
closer walk with God; church membership is a matter for you to settle
personally after this is
done." I have dealt with scores who, after being assured we were
trying to line them up with
the church, stepped out for Christ and let Him have His way in their
REMOVE EVERY BARRIER
In dealing with an individual, remember
there is a soul in your
hands. Remove every
barrier possible to help him to go forward for prayer. We should
recognize that not all problems are likely to be settled during the
but can best be settled while the seeker kneels and talks with
Then there are some things that will be settled only after the soul is
saved and as he walks
in the light. All methods are useless and all words are in vain
anointed by the Spirit of God. As we work to win men to Christ,
continually be conscious of the fact that it is "not
by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts."
B'S FOR PERSONAL WORKERS
Be "wise as serpents."
Be "harmless as doves."
Be co-operative with the leader.
SOME THINGS TO AVOID
Avoid reflecting on other
Avoid loud speaking.
Avoid gestures, talking
Avoid being conspicuous.
Avoid lingering too
Avoid embarrassing those with whom you deal.