HOW TO WIN MORE MEN
In many church congregations there is a painful absence of men. God bless the faithful mothers, the loyal wives, the courageous young women, whose faces are set Zionward in the face of difficulties. But are not the fathers, the husbands, the young men precious to God? Did not Christ die for them too? There is only one answer: Yes.
Christ has given no general rule, and the technique is not the same in every case. But there are some general underlying principles in soul-winning.
LOVE FOR SOULS
One of the qualities required of elders is that they be "lovers of good men" (Titus 1:8). They are to love goodness and good things in general. They are to love the companionship of "good men" and seek them out. Such a course would settle the problem of some serious troubles if it were followed. "Love the brotherhood," says Peter (1 Peter 2:17). But that is not all. Said Christ, "Love your enemies" (Luke 6:27). God commandeth His love to us "while we were yet sinners" (Romans 5:8). Though we hate sin we must love the sinner. That is not easy to do. But "the love of Christ constraineth us" (2 Cor. 5:14). In Christ is found the secret of soul-winning. Genuine love will touch hearts and open doors.
Men, as well as others, like to see action. It appeals to men to see a person "on the job." A minister "not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord" (Rom. 12:11) appeals to men of the world.
For example, consider the famine when "all the land of Egypt was famished." Joseph's father and brethren were brought "out of the land of Canaan," and Joseph "presented them unto Pharaoh." As the monarch looked them over he said to Jacob, the father, "How old art thou?" Jacob answered, "An hundred and thirty years." Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "In the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle" (Gen. 47:6). It is the man of action men are attracted to. Action on the job in soul-saving wins men. "Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord negligently" (Jer. 48:10, margin). Carelessness and inactivity are condemned by God and scorned by men. If we see things to be done and lend a helping hand, such activity will win souls.
"The cause of God demands men who can see quickly and act instantaneously at the right time and with power" (Gospel Workers, 133).
The Lord said to Joshua, "Be strong and of good courage." And He repeated it with emphasis, saying, "Only be thou strong and very courageous" (Joshua 1:6,7).
It really takes courage to work with and for some men. But listen─"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest" (Joshua 1:9). Be sure you are right, with your feet planted on the eternal truth, then manifest the courage of your convictions.
"Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong" (1 Cor. 16:13). I have said to many people, "How are you today?" They often say, "Oh well, I have my ups and downs." I say, "You put it wrong. You should say, 'I have my downs and ups.' In the last act you want to be up."
"Courage, energy, and perseverance they [Christ's followers] must possess. Though apparent impossibilities obstruct their way, by His grace they are to go forward. Instead of deploring difficulties, they are called upon to surmount them. They are to despair of nothing, and to hope for everything" (Gospel Workers, 39).
"A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother" (Prov. 18:24). "A friend loveth at all times" (Prov. 17:17). It pays to be friendly in a tangible way. A certain family moved into a neighborhood. For some reason one neighbor would not speak to the newcomers. The woman always turned her head away when spoken to. One day the woman in the new family made a dish of delicious food. She stepped to the fence and called the obdurate lady. The lady came running out and was offered something good to eat. She took the food and went back into her house. The next day she received a dishpan full of fine peaches. That started a friendship. A friendly look, a friendly handshake, a friendly act counts. Try it every day.
Be tactful, not tack-full. Be courteous. If you want to win a man, become interested in something he is interested in. Show your interest in any worthy project.
During my 17 years in legislatures, I learned that I could make a new legislator my friend by taking to him one of his good bills, with expressions of appreciation, and asking him for further explanation. I immediately gained his attention and interest. After a short explanation I would thank him and say, "I must not trouble you further."
"Well, Mr. Adams, I am glad to become acquainted with you. If I can do anything for you, call on me." Thus I gained a friend at court. Why? Because I had taken an interest in something he was interested in. It pays and wins.
I am reminded of the Christian tact of one of our ministers. He was holding an evangelistic meeting and had good attendance. Among the interested ones was a woman whose husband never attended. She became converted and desired baptism. When she told her husband her intentions, he swore vengeance against the minster and said, "I'll shoot the man that baptizes you." She was fearful but was baptized. When her husband learned of it, he swore again that he would shoot that preacher.
The minister was told to stay away from their home, but he did not. He went to find the man. Neither one had seen the other. He saw the husband feedings his hogs. The minister said, "Hello, neighbor" and complimented him on his pigs. He continued to talk "hogology," a topic the man was interested in. "What is the price of hogs in Chicago?" he inquired. Everything was friendly.
Finally the minister asked, "I wonder if I might get a drink of water?"
"Sure," said the man, "come to the house." The man did not know who the minster was yet. He called his wife for a glass. She brought the glass and was thunderstruck to see the two men together. The minister said to the wife, "Your husband has the best lot of hogs I have ever seen."
Then the lady said to her husband, "This is my minister," and the two shook hands. The husband gave the minister a glass of water instead of shooting him. Later the man was baptized. Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you Christian tact.
"In the work of soul-winning, great tact and wisdom are needed.... The minister must not feel that the whole truth is to be spoken to unbelievers on any and every occasion. He should study carefully when to speak, what to say, and what to leave unsaid.... Tact and good judgment increase the usefulness of the laborer a hundred-fold. If he will speak the right words at the right time and show the right spirit, this will exert a melting power on the heart of the one he is trying to help" (Ibid., 117-119).
W. M. Adams was associate religious liberty secretary of the Pacific Union when he wrote this article.