"Dedicated to strengthening and encouraging the Body of Christ."

The Art And Act Of Soul Winning

By Charles G. Trumbull (1872-1941)

    Soul winning is hard work. Because it is an effective sort of warfare against the devil, it is the kind of effort which the devil bitterly opposes, seeking always to persuade us away from it by the subtle, poisonous suggestion that we may harm the cause of Christ if we attempt it just now. For this reason it will never grow easy. Nor ought it to; its costliness is a secret of its effectiveness, and when it is easily done there is grave question whether it is effectively done. The obligation to do this work rests with equal weight upon every confessed follower of Christ. Failure here is open disloyalty to the Great Commission.

    Individual work is simply a telling others of our experience of Christ’s love, so that they may share it. Efficiency in this does not demand an expert knowledge of the Bible or of theology, nor skill and power in argument and discussion. It does call for unshaken knowledge of what Jesus Christ has done for us, and a deeply-rooted purpose to share that knowledge with others. We must know Christ, and we must know the one to whom we would make Christ attractive.

    The best way to begin in this work is to begin; the best time to begin is now. The only mistake we need really to fear is the mistake of holding off. There are few errors to dread in the work; the great error is the error of keeping out of the work. Our feelings must not be recognized as factors at all. Their presence or absence is to be brushed aside, ignored. To "feel like doing it" is not the secret of success in this work; will-power, resolute intention persistently carried out, is the secret. We must and we may love those whom we do not like.

    Our own personal shortcomings must not deter us. What Christ is, not what we are, is our message. We speak as saved sinners, not as superior beings. Yet the doing of this work is bound to have a powerfully uplifting influence upon the personal life and character of those who engage in it.

    A life-resolve that every Christian worker ought to consider is the following: "Whenever I am in such intimacy with a soul as to be justified in choosing my subject of conversation, the theme of themes shall have prominence between us, so that I may learn his need, and if possible, meet it."

    As we are face to face with an opportunity, our whole attention should be centered upon the person whom we would win – nothing else. We must seek to know him in order to know his interests; having learned what his interests are, we must begin by working with them just as they are, not as we think they ought to be. This is the secret of tact: a touch in keeping with, rather than apart from, our man’s present interests.

    The encouragements in the work are greater than the difficulties. We have only the devil working against us; we have God working with us. A frequent surprise is the finding that God has especially prepared the way, and that some one whom we approached with reluctance has been longing to be spoken to. Special difficulties are largely in our own timorous, devil-aided imaginations. Rebuffs by those whom we would win are almost unknown.

    No opportunity is so slight or trifling that it can safely be passed by. The "trifles" in this work, rejected of men, may become cornerstones in life-buildings planned by the Master-Builder. If we admit of any opportunity that it is too trifling to use, we are sure to lose priceless opportunities. We are especially in danger of missing the opportunities that are close at hand – the commonplace, everyday openings; and in so doing to overlook the souls nearest to us who need our help. Opportunity cannot be measured by man-made rules. "It may be a small matter for you to speak the one word for Christ that wins a needy soul – a small matter to you but it is everything to him."

    Seeing results in the work may or may not be our privilege. It is our duty to work for results just as long as the result does not appear and the person sought is within our sphere of influence. At times it is an evident duty to urge an immediate decision. Always we ought to make it plain that Jesus Christ accepts at once – that if there is any delay it is not of His causing. Follow-up work is important. It may be supremely important; without it, all our preliminary effort may count for nothing.

    The enduring purpose of Jesus as a man must be our enduring purpose in soul-winning: to get close alongside of men, just as they are, in order to show them that they are dear to us and to our Savior who would be theirs.

    – Excerpted from Taking Men Alive by Charles G. Trumbull. Charles G. Trumbull (1872-1941) was an editor and prolific writer. In 1903 he succeeded his father as editor of The Sunday School Times magazine.