A Counselor’s Guide to Soul Winning
For the Freddie Gage
Go Tell Crusade
“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said,
“Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:18-19)
“It is vision or vanish.” Proverbs 29:18 says,
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
Where there is no vision, no passion for the souls of men, a church dies. All across America churches that once burned in revival fires are now living in the smoke and the glory of God has departed. Why? Because Christians have lost their first love for souls. Jesus said,
“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love,” (Rev.2:4)
The church in Ephesus was not having disco dances. They were not liberal by any stretch of the imagination. They were orthodox, conservative, fundamentalists. What happened? They got sidetracked. They lost their love for the primary mission that Jesus gave them,
“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)
Many churches are now embarrassingly empty. The offerings are not sufficient to meet a continually decreasing budget. There are empty classrooms. They have eliminated the Sunday night service because of a lack of interest. There is no power in the service, no joy in the pew and no evidence of God in the service. It has died. The once vibrant soul-winning outreach program has been disbanded. As John R. Bisagno, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, states in his book, HOW TO BUILD AN EVANGELISTIC CHURCH,
“It is business as usual. On prayer meeting night a handful of faithful souls show up. Lustily the organ cranks on and on, but for all their trying they just could not get much heart into the song, ‘Day Is Dying In The West.’ And, brother, that is not all that was dying in the west and the east and the north and the south. Many are dead and just don’t know it.” He states, ”People stay away in great droves. Ninety-nine percent of America will not be in church on Sunday night and it’s only slightly better on Sunday morning. And why should they go?” He states, “Most services are dead, dull, despondent and depressing. At any ball game, concert, movie or disco club, there is more life than in the average church. Why? Absence of vision for souls. They have forgotten why Jesus came. ‘ , “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10). The Great Commission is not on the agenda and there is no hope because there is no vision. John Bisagno further states, “There is no vision because the leadership has no vision and the result is death. For without a vision for souls we perish. Vision, like expectancy, always believes it will happen. ‘We Can Do It” is the theme for those with a vision for souls.”
There are 60,000 churches in America which have padlocks on their doors, 1,000 per year are going out of business. Dr. James T. Draper, President of the Southern Baptist Convention, states that 6,000 Baptist churches baptized no one and 28,000 baptized less than ten last year. He states, ”We must return to the basics of New Testament evangelism, soul winning.” People become satisfied. They lose their first love for Jesus. They forget they have been commissioned by Jesus to evangelize the world beginning in their own backyard. Think about it, how can a church die carrying out the Great Commission? It cannot. “It will glow and grow,” states Adrian Rogers, pastor of the Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee. He states, “We will either evangelize or fossilize. Saving souls was the life passion of Jesus. Soul-winning is the alpha and omega of Christianity.” Andrew Murray says, ”There are two kinds of Christians, soul winners and backsliders. I pray you are a soul winner. If not, become one we can’t all be preachers but we can all be reachers. Don’t procrastinate. Go tell someone today how to be born again.
You’re In For An Adventure! You are going to enjoy this book. It will cause the apprehension to disappear. You’re in for the spiritual time of your life.
Counseling brings deep joy and wonderful excitement. I want you to know that joy. It will be the joy of heaven spilling over on you. Remember how enthusiastic Jesus was when he said in heaven there is more joy over one sinner whose heart is changed than over 99 righteous people who have no need of repentance (Luke 15). How thrilling to share the joy of winning a lost soul to Jesus.
The very reason that the church exists is to communicate the message of Jesus to the lost. The church is laborers engaged in the harvesting task of reaching the perplexed and seeking sinners with something so vital, that if they receive Christ it will change their lives. Billy Graham said,
“The Church exists by mission as fire exists by burning.” Billy Graham states,
“The primary mission of the church is soul winning. Everything else is secondary.” He states,
“We should be out of breath chasing down sinners.”
Charles H. Spurgeon was asked the question, “What do you count the greatest thing a human being can do?” and he replied, ”Bring another human being to Jesus Christ.” In eleven easy steps you will be ready to share in the vital and joyful mission of the church. This soul winning method is one of the most effective ways to counsel the lost in practice today. It has been born out of experience -the experience of over 1000 Freddie Gage Go Tell Crusades. The methods, I am about to share with you, are used by hundreds of evangelists and major evangelistic churches throughout the world.
Thousands of churches are now using this book with positive results.
Soon the information in this book will be used of God to release you from fear and bring you into the joy of being a soul-winning counselor. Pray this prayer with me.
“Father, I commit myself to serve you as a soul-winning counselor during this crusade. Make me sensitive, as Jesus is, to the needs of others. As I apply myself to this opportunity, teach me what I need to learn, through your Holy Spirit. I humbly ask to share in your joy as someone comes to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Now the adventure begins.
Let this poem by Bertha Prince inspire you. Read it slowly and let the words form a picture in your mind.
A living soul, how priceless!
Its value is untold.
Worth more than purest gold.
And oh, the souls are countless
Upon life’s busy way
Who know not Christ, our Saviour,
Who never stop to pray.
They rush toward sin’ s gay glitter,
It’s glaring, garish light
These souls of men are marching
To everlasting night.
O go ye into all the world,
Is his divine command.
I hear his voice so tender,
I see his loving hand
Outstretched in power and blessing
The fallen ones to raise.
Then may we do his bidding
Through all our early days;
And when the sheaves are gathered
Before his throne that day,
May there be souls most precious
Whom we have shown the way.
LET’S STUDY THESE SCRIPTURES
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth ” (II Timothy 2:15)
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30)
“Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” (James 5:20)
“He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus.” (John 1:41-42)
“When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.” (Ezekiel 3:18-19)
“And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3)
I want to personally challenge you to memorize the entire counseling procedures outlined in this book for the glory of God.
LET’S SEE THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING A COUNSELOR
Counseling is the most important part of the entire crusade! The role of the preacher is to bring each unsaved person to the place of decision. The role of the counselor is to help the individual seeker to personally understand how to become a Christian.
Mass evangelism within the walls of the local church building cannot effectively take place without individual counselors. Salvation is personal. It is now and it always has been. The proclamation of the gospel message, however, is often to the masses, just as it often was in Jesus’ ministry. The preaching of the gospel from a pulpit by an evangelist or a pastor will often cause many to seek Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The message proclaimed in a mass meeting will often cause mass response. The personalization of the gospel message is accomplished by the trained counselor.
The counselor is a leader, a spiritual-leader who is able to lead people to Christ. The message causes them to want Christ. The counselor’s guidance shows them how to receive him. It really isn’t hard, but it does require training. It will take an investment of time on your part. But, believe me, there is no more important task in this evangelistic crusade than to be a counselor. Carefully and prayerfully study the step-by-step methods and instructions in this booklet. You will then be prepared to counsel for the Freddie Gage Go Tell Crusade.
NOTE: We do ask that you do not deviate from the instructions set forth in this booklet.
You’re doing great! Any questions so far? I thought so. Time to go on to Step 3
LET’S ANSWER SOME QUESTIONS
Most questions at this point have to do with procedure-what counselors do prior to and during the crusade meetings. Obviously, in this space, we cannot answer every question. But we have included here the questions with answers, we are most frequently asked, the ones that are important at this point.
QUESTION: How many counselors should we have for the Freddie Gage Go Tell Crusade?
ANSWER: For a local church crusade it is imperative that there be 200 trained counselors prepared and ready for the first service. If properly trained months in advance, these 200 will bring a lost person to the very first service and walk the aisle with them to accept Christ.
QUESTION: Who should be a counselor?
ANSWER: Soul-winning Sunday School teachers, departmental leaders, and deacons. Also included should be young adults, high school students and college students. It goes without saying that they must be spiritually-concerned Christians.
QUESTION: What are acceptable ages for counselors to be?
ANSWER: We suggest that all of the counselors be 16 years of age and older. We also suggest approximately the same number of men counselors as women.
QUESTION: What are the qualifications for a counselor?
ANSWER: First, he must be assured of his own salvation. And he must be living a dedicated, spirit-filled Christian life. He should also be trained in the use of the following materials:
- The Roman Road
- How To Be Born Again Tract
- How To Get Started Right Booklet
- Go Tell Soul Winners New Testament
QUESTION: Should there be a head counselor?
ANSWER: There should be a chairman and a co-chairman for the counseling committee. During the crusade, these two work closely with the pastor and with the Freddie Gage Go Tell Crusade office.
Let me say at this point, if there are any questions whatsoever, please contact our office. It’s there for that purpose.
QUESTION: Should the counselors wear badges?
ANSWER: No, the counselors should not wear badges. The reason is that it makes them look too conspicuous. We recommend wearing our “Go Tell” pin, not because it is our pin, but because it is small and provides a simple and unassuming way of identifying counselors for this Go Tell crusade.
LET’S SIMPLIFY THE PROCESS
Where To Sit:
Counselors should be scattered throughout the auditorium. No special seats will be assigned. Members of the crusade choir cannot be counselors-it is impossible to do both adequately.
What To Do During The Service:
Pray. Pray that God will give us a great harvest of souls. In that harvest you will be one of the reapers, a trained, spirit-filled, soul-winning counselor should lead one soul to Jesus at the close of each service. Jesus said, “Go tell.” (Mark 5:19) Throughout the crusade, as a counselor, you should be bringing at least one lost person to every service. I almost feel that a counselor, who doesn’t bring a lost person to the first service, ought to be disqualified as a counselor. A well trained counselor will be praying, witnessing, inviting, and winning lost souls daily. (Acts 2:47)
May I open my heart to you. I firmly believe that a Christian trained for weeks in advance on soul winning and counseling should come to the first service with a lost person. He should sit with him and silently pray for him during the service. At the time of invitation the counselor should urge that lost friend to come forward. Then he should come with him and lead him to Christ.
It is almost impossible for me to comprehend why a counselor would not be willing to do that!
One lady came to me after a service and said, “I’ve been here all week as a counselor and haven’t counseled anyone or won anyone.” I replied,
“Ma’am you need to go where the fish are.”
On the last Saturday afternoon of the crusade, she went out and brought three lost people to the service. They, accompanied by her, walked the aisle during the invitation. Each of her friends made decisions to accept Christ. Good fishing is always where the fish are! We need to remind ourselves that the gospel is not something to come to church to hear, but something to go from the church to tell. We have had enough of “sit and listen churchianity” what we need is a vital “Go ye Christianity.”
Amen? Amen! It sounds like I’m preaching. Well, I am, and I mean it with all my heart.
WHEN TO COME TO THE FRONT:
When I close each sermon, I will say, “Shall we pray.” At that moment, the organist and pianist will begin to play, “Just as I Am.” When the prayer is concluded, we will sing the first verse of the invitational song.
At the end of the first verse of singing, the counselors should step out and come to the front.
DO NOT JUST STAND THERE:
With my own eyes, I have actually seen 50 counselors just standing at the front, with big badges on, just standing around looking at the people weeping at the altar.
Be sure to have with you the following:
- Pen or Pencil
- How To Get Started Right Booklet
- How To Be Born Again Tract
- Go Tell Soul Winners New Testament
WHO TO COUNSEL:
Every seeker, who comes forward, needs to be counseled. It was important enough for the person to come forward, it should certainly be important enough for a counselor to deal with that person. To begin with, assume that the person you are dealing with is a sinner seeking salvation. Proceed appropriately from there.
But, whatever you do, do not allow the person you are dealing with to return to his seat-under any circumstances.
The counselor must be prepared to converse with the seeker about his need for salvation. From an open Bible he needs to show him what God wants him to know. And then he needs to pray with him. It cannot merely be shaking a few hands and shedding a few tears. Billy Graham points out that this, ”has caused church rolls to become the greatest mission fields in the world.” He further states 50 percent of all church members on church rolls have never been born again.
Who is responsible for that?
“Not the seeker,” says Dr. Graham. “It has been the lack of training on the part of people who have dealt with sinners seeking salvation.”
LET’S THINK ABOUT THE NEEDS OF PEOPLE
Just last week in our crusade, I personally dealt with a 26-year-old lady who was a drug addict, an alcoholic, and a prostitute. I also learned that her child had been taken from her by the state welfare department.
However, and here is the point, she was also a member of that Baptist church. There at the altar, I asked her if she had ever been saved. “No,” she said, “two years ago I came down the aisle seeking help for alcoholism and drug addiction and personal problems.” I asked her what happened? “They handed me a card and I filled it out. And then I was baptized.
“The next night I was intoxicated and back to smoking dope. I thought it was all a joke until this week when I read your book, PULPIT IN THE SHADOWS. God spoke to me through the book and I came to hear you preach. And a moment ago, I actually hesitated to come forward because I was afraid the same thing would happen again. That’s why I asked to talk to you personally.”
Twenty minutes later the young lady was born again, changed by Jesus Christ. That Sunday night she was scripturally baptized. Before the crusade was over, she had personally brought 17 others with her, who were saved as a result of her changed life.
DO NOT ASSUME ANYTHING:
The point is this: When she came forward the second time a counselor might not have dealt with her, thinking she was simply coming to rededicate her life-for after all she was a member of the church. The only way you’ll know is not to assume anything.
For example, we have seen over 50 full-time clergymen, Christian workers, and church staff come forward to be saved. An organist, who had played the organ for over 15 years came forward at our last crusade and was gloriously saved. Allow me to belabor the point further. In the past two years we have seen six Baptist, preachers, one Catholic priest, one Episcopalian rector, one Lutheran minister, two full-time Southern Baptist evangelists, and six ministers wives saved. Of course, they were all church members-before they were saved. But they had never come to know Jesus Christ as personal Savior.
Don’t assume anything, be like this young man, who when a famous Baptist preacher came to speak at a banquet in Houston asked him, “Are you saved?” The preacher replied by telling the young man his name, to which the young man responded, “Don’t let that stand in your way. Jesus can save you, too.”
DO NOT TAKE ANYONE’S SALVATION FOR GRANTED:
In a crusade this past April we had 18 counselors saved. In the Billy Graham meetings hundreds of counselors are saved every crusade. Do not take anyone’s salvation for granted. I have seen the altar filled with drug addicts, gamblers, drunkards, prostitutes, and gangsters. Believe it or not, because some of these people had their names on the church roll, they were sent back to their seats. When I asked, “Did that person accept Christ?” I was told that he just rededicated his life. The truth was, he didn’t have anything to rededicate.
Why have we Baptists placed so much emphasis on rededication? Sometimes I think it is simply because it is easier to counsel for rededication than to be scripturally thorough with a salvation seeker. Sometimes it is the difference between having a card filled out for rededication and taking the time to insure that the person is actually born again. I personally feel our biggest problem is not lack of follow-up, not lack of discipleship, but rather improper counseling of salvation seekers at the altar. Thousands have simply been added to church rolls rather than being born again.
WHOSE FAULT IS IT?
Leadership. The counselors were not trained properly. Counselors are the most important workers in the crusade-they must be trained properly. So often I have seen people trained to do everything else but counsel-trained to teach, to preach, to sing, to tithe, but not trained to win souls.
As a result, soul winning is not even on the life’ s agenda of the average Christian. The Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention states that 95 percent of Southern Baptists never win a soul to Christ. Think of that! And the Southern Baptists are one of the most evangelistic denominations.
Within the past two years, five prominent evangelists have left full-time evangelism for the pastorate. These men are personal friends of mine. Without exception in each of their lives the deciding factors were as follows:
Lack of preparation for a crusade and lack of training for counselors.
So they have left full-time evangelistic preaching to take local churches, where they can teach people to win souls and thereby not labor in vain.
I have often left services grieved in my spirit after hundreds have come forward and not been counseled properly. If it were not for the providence of God, I wonder if any could be saved in some churches where the counseling is either non-existent or completely inept. In some places, it is even difficult to come up with counselors who have enough training to fill out the card-the Lord knows I am not exaggerating. The most discouraging part of the evangelistic ministry that God has given me is experiencing such large numbers of counselors who are not qualified to win people to Jesus. Many a night I have actually gone to the motel and wept.
HERE IS MY FAITH
My faith is that with you it will be different. When I am discouraged about the lack of trained counselors I remember the words of Paul,
“Since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.” (II Corinthians 4:1 NIV)
“We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (II Corinthians 4: 7-9 NIV)
I will be praying for you. That you will study to show yourself approved (not unto me) but unto God, a counselor that needs not to be ashamed.
LET’S COUNSEL THE SEEKER
THE FIRST QUESTION
What is the first question to ask the person that has come forward?
This is important! Do not ask,” Why are you coming?” The question D. L. Moody asked cannot be improved, “If you were to die tonight, where would you go?” That question answers all the other questions. For instance, if the person says, “I don’t know,” then immediately kneel with him or her and read them I John 5:13: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” Then read John 1:12: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” Then ask the person to share with you when Jesus came into his or her heart. If he says, “I don’t know.” Then lead him to Christ. Vance Havner says, “If you could get saved and not know it, you could lose it and never know it.” Salvation is a definite experience.
A particular crusade comes to mind. After I had preached hundreds had come forward. It was a city-wide crusade with churches of several denominations represented. I noticed two ladies kneeling at the front with a teenage boy. One was hitting him on the back, saying, “Hold on,” while the other was saying, “Let go.” The poor boy didn’t know whether to hold on or let go. Being clear about salvation is imperative.
THE NEXT THING TO DO
God’s word says. If you don’t already know the Roman Road approach to sharing the gospel we are reprinting it here. Stay with this outline and you won’t go wrong.
The Roman Road
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23)
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Rom. 3:10)
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Rom. 5:12)
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23)
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8)
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Rom. 10:9)
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Rom. 10:13)
Evangelist Freddie Gage showing the seeker the plan of salvation, the Roman Road,
from the Soul Winner’s New Testament.
Some counselors want to use the outline on the back of the “How To Get Started Right” booklet. No! The outline on the back of this booklet is for the new convert to take home to study. But it is not meant to be used at the altar.
THE SINNER’S PRAYER:
After the Roman Road ask the seeker to pray the sinner’s prayer. Of course, there are those who disagree, but it worked with me when I became a Christian and I have seen it work on over half a million people. God has let me lead thousands to Christ in this way. I have them pray this prayer as I take them by the hand:
Dear God, be merciful to me, a sinner. This night I am accepting Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I cannot save myself. I am trusting you to save me. I want to live for you. I want to be baptized and join your church. I want to become a soul-winner. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Freddie Gage leading the seeker in the sinner’s prayer, drawing the net, winning the seeker to Jesus Christ
and committing the seeker to baptism and soul winning.
Through this prayer, the seeker is committed to baptism, church membership and soul winning.
Now you should become his spiritual buddy for purposes of follow-up. For example, as his counselor you should make the arrangements with the pastor for his baptism. Then you should personally take him to the baptistry to be baptized. This is not the responsibility of the staff or the evangelist and his staff. It’s your responsibility to have the person prepared to be baptized. And it should be in the next service after he has accepted Christ.
FOLLOW-UP IS THE KEY:
If the new convert is not integrated into the church it will be a tragedy. The counselor is responsible to creatively see that this happens. If you are not willing to do this you should not be a counselor.
NOTE: When the new convert is baptized be sure that they invite all their friends and relatives. Many family members of converts have been won to Christ in this way.
LET’S FINISH OUR WORK
WHAT TO DO WHEN FINISHED COUNSELING:
When you’ve finished counseling and your decider is assured of his decision for Christ, then fill out the perforated card in the back of the “How To Get Started Right” booklet. Please print giving careful attention to name, address, phone number, age, and church preference. This is vital information.
REMOVE THE CARD AND LEAVE THE BOOKLET WITH THE NEW CONVERT:
NOTE: We suggest that the church order a quantity of “How To Get Started Right” booklets from the Freddie Gage Evangelistic Association before the crusade begins so the counselors can have an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the material.
AFTER THE CARD:
With the finished card in your hand, it’s time to introduce your counselee to the following people: The pastor, the chairman and/or co-chairman of the counseling committee, other church staff members or some of Dr. Gage’s associates.
Of course, this will start the process of integrating him into the church family. It is also vitally important that he talk with one of these about his decision. By all means, keep him at the front, do not send him back to his seat. Even when the situation is really one of rededication, if it was important enough for the person to come forward, it is important enough to read their name and allow everyone to rejoice over their decision-salvation, rededication, etc.
I have seen people who have had the joy of their salvation restored and it is equal to that of a conversion experience.
David, in Psalm 51:12-13 said,
“Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.”
When David’s joy was restored he became concerned for sinners. His passion for lost souls was returned.
WHAT THE PASTOR WILL DO:
What are some of the other reasons for introducing the new convert to the pastor? This will give him a chance to see the person’s name written down. He will be able to check the information as to accuracy and legibility . But, most importantly, to talk with him about his new decision. In this way he will be able to reinforce all that you have done to help the convert feel assured. He will also lay the groundwork for baptism and church membership.
NOTE: It is very important that every new convert be talked to regarding baptism. The pastor will do this, but the counselor needs to do it too. Do not let the fish get out of the boat. I’ve seen many people accept Christ and because the counselor didn’t press for a decision to be baptized, the person didn’t follow through with baptism. Do you see how important you are as a counselor-everything rises or falls on what you do.
Every person making a decision, regardless of the nature of the decision, should have a copy of the “How To Get Started Right” booklet.
WHAT IF THE PERSON JUST CAME TO PRAY?
They should still be recognized. And if they are praying for someone’s salvation that person’s name should be put on the prayer list and on the prospect list. When the person who has come to pray is introduced, the congregation should be made aware of the burden that this person is carrying and asked to share the burden in prayer. The name of the person needing to be saved should also be shared. Of course, there are situations that would modify the way this is handled publicly.
LET’S PLAN FOR THE LAST SERVICE
When the sermon, ALL MY FRIENDS ARE DEAD, is preached I’ll ask all who come forward to stand at the front of the podium or platform. It is very important that all counselors stand there with them. In this service, do not kneel. Do not counsel until Freddie Gage has led them in the sinner’s prayer and explained to them the plan of salvation. This is the only night in the local church meeting we use this method, when the sermon, ALL MY FRIENDS ARE DEAD, is preached. The reason for this is because there is always such a great harvest of souls, we never have enough counselors and we feel it is imperative that once again they be told the plan of salvation by Dr. Gage before the counselors counsel with them. All other nights they will be counseled with at the end of the service in the counseling room.
NOTE: If the meeting is associational-whether city-wide or area-wide and if the meetings are held in a stadium or civic center then the method of coming, standing, and going to designated counseling areas will be used every night of the crusade.
LET’S BE READY FOR THE ALTAR SERVICE
Here’s the most exciting time of the service. The pastor should read each person’s name to the congregation and share with them the reason he or she came forward.
- Vote on them all at one time. Don’t vote on them one at a time. In one crusade 66 people came for baptism. The church voted 66 times. That actually happened. This time should be marked by fast pacing and joyful response. Dr. W. A. Criswell is a master at this. He makes me want to go down to the front every time I visit First Baptist Church of Dallas.
- Get excited about the person making a decision. If our favorite football team scores we get excited, why not at this infinitely more important time. Remember, what I said earlier about the rejoicing in heaven over one sinner that repents.
- If it is a child, have the father and mother come to stand next to their child. In addition to parents, If it is a teenager, have his or her friends and Sunday School teacher come.
- Get the congregation involved and excited. John Bisagno says, “The altar service should be as exciting as a maternity ward at a local hospital.”
NOTE: At the risk of sounding like a broken record, experience teaches me that it is important for me to say one more time: It is imperative that the person making a decision should remain at the front of the church until after the altar service, regardless of why he came.
LET’S BAPTIZE THE NEW BELIEVERS
We recommend that the church baptize every service. Following is a list of just some o of the great soul-winning churches that baptize a person the moment they are saved:
First Baptist Church, Albuquerque, New Mexico
First Baptist Church, Del City, Oklahoma
First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana
First Baptist Church, Houston, Texas
The new believers are taken directly to the baptistry. Some do not, but most great soul-winning churches throughout the world baptize new converts immediately.
Read Acts 8:34-39, the story of the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch. Baptizing immediately is scriptural and biblical. Everywhere in the Bible when a person was saved, they were baptized immediately. One of the wonderful by-products of the new convert’s baptism is often the conversion of family members and friends who come to witness the baptism. If the pastor will arrange the baptism prior to the service, then the entire service that follows can be devoted to winning the lost ones who come to see the baptism.
In one crusade, a teenage Catholic boy was led to Christ. The next night he was baptized prior to the service and eleven in his family came to Jesus. His mother, father and all his brothers and sisters were saved in one service.
In Indianapolis, a 100-year-old lady came to see a family member baptized and walked the aisle herself that night to accept Christ. I have seen numerous husbands come to see their wives baptized and be gloriously saved.
In Louisville, a teenage boy on drugs brought fifteen of his friends to his baptismal service. Before the meeting was over all fifteen had been saved. It began with an invitation to a baptismal service.
Let’s Understand The Need For Training
There cannot be too many training sessions for counselors, but we suggest at least 12 sessions.
Training will help to alleviate confusion. One of the points of confusion that needs to be understood in the training of counselors is the roles of preacher and counselor. Re-read Step II at this point. Allow me to comment further on this confusion. One night a counselor stepped up to me and said, “Dr. Gage, we were confused because you did not give the plan of salvation during your sermon. Therefore, we didn’t know where to begin. What should we have done?”
My answer was, “The role of the preacher is to bring each unsaved person to the place of decision. The role of the counselor is to help the individual seeker to personally understand how to become a Christian.”
On Sunday during a recent crusade 3000 people were in attendance. Live on television I preached on God’s Hall of Fame For Soul Winners. The entire message was on the subject of soul winning. Over 800 people responded to the invitation. Some came to be saved, but most were Christians weeping over the sins of indifference, lethargy, apathy, loss of love for Jesus, and lack of love for the lost.
I said to the pastor, “Where are your counselors?” He said, “The counselors are at the altar getting right with God.” The point is they had been counselors without a burden for souls. They were not spiritually tuned to the heart of Jesus, who came to seek and to save the lost.
Regardless of the content of the message, the counselor that is trained and spiritually alert will sense the need of the moment and meet the seeker at the level of his need, just as Jesus did over and over in the gospels.
Recently I preached on the Tears of Jesus. The tears he shed were for souls. I did not give the plan of salvation. You would think that the response of 287 people would all be Christians making some decision about soul-winning, etc. But because the convicting power of the Holy Spirit combines many elements, we can never make those kinds of predictions. Seventy-six souls were saved in that service. There were well trained and spiritually alert counselors present and that is the reason that these seventy-six seekers were counseled about receiving Christ-even though the message was directed strictly to Christians.
THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR NOT TRAINING COUNSELORS:
Often more time is spent in training people musically in churches than in training people to win souls to Jesus. Recently, for example, I was in a large church. The church had five softball teams (I like softball). I guess, if the counselors of this 4000 member church had been trained, I wouldn’t have been so concerned to see an active training program in softball and other sports. You see, both are good, but one is more important. I explored the subject with the activity director of the church in a very direct way. “Do you have some great coaches?” “Oh, yes.” I said, “How many hours does a church softball team practice and play during a week in season?” “Twenty to thirty hours a week,” was his reply. Astounded, I replied, “God, help us.” “What’s the problem?” he said. I replied, “Your church is in the ball business, not the soul-winning business, the business Jesus left for the church to do.” “I guess you’re right,” he said.