DRAWING THE NET is born of twenty-seven fruitful years of service in the field of evangelism throughout our church in the United States and Canada. The author, Dr. Jarrette Aycock, who has been superintendent of the Kansas City District for ten years, writes to his own young preachers of his experiences and methods employed, and thus he addresses himself to all earnest ministers everywhere who would do the work of an evangelist and make full proof of their ministry. Dr. Aycock acknowledges freely our utter dependence upon the Holy Spirit in this engaging business of “drawing the net,” and he warns against methods that may become mechanical and stereotyped. The style of the book is readable, direct, and “down to earth.” I am sure it will prove especially helpful to all pastors and young evangelists who want to learn how to assist souls in coming to the crisis moment of seeking God for spiritual deliverance. – SAMUEL YOUNG, General Superintendent
WHY THIS BOOK?
Many have said to me, “My ministry is fruitless; I fail in my invitations; I do not seem to be able to get folks forward for prayer.”
A pastor said to me, “Brother Aycock, for nearly thirty years you were an evangelist and God gave you many souls. Why do you not hold conferences among your pastors and tell us how you gave an invitation? I need advice and I am sure others do also.”
Acting on this suggestion, I held six such conferences with the pastors on my district, giving them in the very words I would use in revival campaigns the methods I have used across the years in drawing the net. They seemed to appreciate the message and in each instance voted that it be published, and that is the WHY of THIS BOOK.
GIVING THE INVITATION
The giving of an invitation for people to come to Christ is a very sacred thing. It is only by request and with an apology that I dare write upon the subject.
For over twenty-seven years, almost every night, I tried to give an invitation and I am convinced that there are no definite plans or rules that will always prove effective. Often factors which seemed so helpful in getting folk forward for prayer in one service miserably fail in others.
It is only through the power of God that an effective invitation can ever be given, but when the Spirit is manifested the most unlikely methods often bring results. It is “not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord.”
There are methods, however, which we have used across the years on which God has often placed His blessing, bringing forth thirty, sixty, and sometimes a hundred fold. These we humbly place before you, not as something new or original, but methods which are old and often tried. And if one preacher using any of these suggestions can lead one soul to Christ, I shall be eternally grateful.
If you want to give an invitation at the close of the service, you should plan and build your message for that purpose. Preach with a view of drawing the net and endeavor to put into your sermon that which is likely to make people think about the need of their souls.
There are, however, exceptions to all rules and sometimes that sermon which has not been particularly planned for immediate results, if an invitation is given, will produce wonders. For this reason, the soul winner should always preach with his ear listening for the voice of God and his heart tuned to the urge of the Spirit.
Lean on the Lord
Place your dependence on God and never on your message. Dr. M., after preaching a great evangelistic message without results, returned to the parsonage and in great agitation walked the floor, saying, over and over: “I don’t understand it; when I preach that sermon I always have a large altar service. Did he depend too much on his discourse? I do not know, but I do know it always pays to lean heavily upon the Lord.
Dr. J. had an effective evangelistic sermon with which he often lined the altar. However, one night in his endeavor dramatically to sweep the audience off their feet his methods reacted and he was humiliated and the amused audience went away laughing.
Rev. S. used to give a very fruitful message on the four horsemen of Revelation and often the slain of the Lord were many. One night he said to a group of ministers, “We will have the altar full tonight; I am going to ride the horses.” He rode the horses all right and used the same words he had at other times, but folks did not respond.
I have a message I have tried to preach over three hundred times with over six thousand seekers resulting, and I know there is a temptation to lean upon the sermon. There have been times when God has so blessed that more than a hundred souls came forward, but there have been other times when no one was reached. We cannot emphasize too much the fact that it is “not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord.”
Be careful lest your message leave the impression that it is too difficult to find God. Do not picture the task so hard that sinners will think it useless to seek the Lord. If you convince men they have committed the unpardonable sin, you have convinced them that it is hopeless for them to seek God.
Humor, properly used, can often be very helpful in getting the attention and holding your audience. It is easier to make people laugh than to make them cry. It is easier to move folks from laughter to crying than from gravity to weeping.
Place your jokes, epigrams, funny stories, and all lightness in the beginning, or in the body of your message, never at the close. Many good appeals have been hindered and the invitation ruined by the joke or wisecrack which was placed too near the close of the message.
Patience is both a gift and a grace in giving an invitation. Many a service that might have been profitable has closed without results because the preacher lost patience. In my early ministry I was often defeated in this way.
A Pastor’s Help
Years ago, a pastor for whom I was conducting a campaign greatly helped me along this line. During the first two or three nights of the invitation he stood near me and, in tones too low for others to hear, he would say over and over, “Hold on,. God is here, don’t give up.” This greatly encouraged me, increased my patience, brought results, and taught me a lesson I have never forgotten.
It was the last night of a great camp meeting; Bud Robinson was my co-laborer and it was my turn to preach. At the close of the message I was completely defeated. I gave an invitation but did not expect anyone to respond. Bud Robinson stood in back of me and began saying, “Hold on, they are coming, hold on.” I did not think so but, because of his faith and encouragement, I held on until 125 were kneeling at the altar. This was another much needed lesson in patience.
Do Not Be Defeated
Do not let the devil bluff you out of an invitation. He will try it. He will make all kinds of suggestions, such as, “There is no conviction, the hour is late, you will drive folks away.” Or he will pick out some individual in the audience and suggest because of him you should not give an invitation. Do not be defeated. We should always remember that the devil is a liar and the father of lies.
Christians expect an invitation and 90 per cent of the sinners expect it. Twice in my ministry I have received a note from the unsaved rebuking me because I did not give them an opportunity to come to the altar.
We are not suggesting that an invitation should always be given or that it should always be lengthy. Yet we are saying that we should try to get the mind of God as to how and when the invitation should be given and not be defeated by a suggestion of the devil.
Do not let the fact that there seems to be a lethargy or deadness in the service defeat or deceive you. I have yielded to this feeling and closed the service and had good Christians come around and say, “God was here tonight, and lots of conviction on the people.” It was I who was dead, tired, and afflicted with lethargy. I was deceived, whipped out, and defeated in what might have been a fruitful service.
If we could only remember that Jesus said, “I am with you alway”; you may be tired, but “I will help thee.”
C. E. Cornell
Dr. C. E. Cornell, the author of Hints to Fishermen and Casting the Net, and perhaps the most successful at giving the invitation of any man our church has ever known, said: “Make your sermon twenty-five or thirty minutes long, right to the point, then make your invitation as long as your message.” Of course, this is not a hard and fast rule; circumstance, place, and the spirit of the service will help you in judging how long to make your invitation.
Choose your own invitation songs. However, do not have the number announced, as this starts people looking for the song and greatly distracts their attention. It is best to choose a familiar song, so that searching for it will not be necessary
If people are responding during the song you have selected, be slow to change it. Sing it over and over. If there is a lull in the response, a change of song may help. I have used the same song for twenty minutes; at other times I have used a number of different songs during the same length of time.
The Last Stanza
I have heard a young evangelist say three times in one service, “This is positively the last stanza we will sing.” This was very unwise, as it left him wide open to be called insincere and to be accused of lying.
People often respond, either in coming for prayer or in doing personal work, when what they think will be the last stanza is being sung. If you make a statement as the one just related, then see you have made a mistake, either quit as you promised or apologize by saying: “I have made a mistake. I am sorry and, if you will pardon me, I would like to continue the invitation.” This will put you in the clear and will head off any who may be watching for something to criticize.
A Better Way
It is much better in bringing your invitation to a close to say, “If there is no move among Christians to do personal work,” or, “If no one comes to the altar, this is the last stanza.” Or a still better way is to say, “This is the last full verse and chorus we will sing.” Then if there seems to be a need of extending the invitation, you are free to repeat the chorus as often as you wish.
There are some choruses which are very singable if cut in two. If you wish to emphasize the fact that you are bringing your invitation nearer the end, say, “This is the last full chorus we will sing.” I have had many respond after such a statement as we sang over and over the part chorus, “I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way,” or the last few words of the old song, “Don’t turn the Saviour away from your heart, don’t turn Him away.”
Last Appeal on Last Night
On bringing to a close the last invitation on the last night I have often used the following song and exhortation with good results: “I am giving my last invitation to you; we are going to sing our last song. In a little while the meeting will be over and we will all be gone, never to meet this way again this side of the judgment. I may never see any of you again, but I have learned to know and appreciate you. If I know my heart, it is wrapped up in that grand old farewell hymn, ‘God Be with You till We Meet Again.’ We are going to sing it; it is the last song. How many are there here who will grant me the privilege of praying for you one time before I go? Maybe you did not plan to come to the altar, but will you reconsider and grant me this privilege? I could leave with a lighter heart if you would. Come for one prayer.” I have had scores respond to this appeal. If you make such a proposition, be sure to pray the first prayer.
The invitation songs I have used most often across the years are: “Almost Persuaded,” “Softly and Tenderly,” “Where He Leads Me,” “Don’t Turn Him Away,” “Just as I Am,” and “Tell Mother I’ll Be There.”
After bringing an evangelistic message on death, I have used the old song “Nearer, My God, to Thee” with good results.
“Just Inside the Eastern Gate” has proved very effective for the invitation following a sermon on heaven.
A Good Closing
The closing night of a revival, after the last altar service is over, after the stranger, the indifferent church member, and those who may be only slightly interested are gone, it always leaves a good feeling in the church to have the young converts and the people remaining to form a circle, join hands, and sing “Blest Be the Tie That Binds.”
This usually stirs the emotions and leaves a good impression in the minds of the people which will long be remembered.
SOME THINGS TO AVOID
Avoid anything that detracts from the effectiveness of your message, especially near the close. Anything that detracts from the sinfulness of sin, the love of Christ, and the necessity of salvation should never be admitted into the service.
Avoid using illustrations which are illogical, unreasonable, extreme, or ridiculous. In our age of travel and modern education, superstition is almost a thing of the past and anything bordering on it will prove more ridiculous than effective.
Avoid making the price of salvation so high that people will feel they cannot afford it. Many things are easier explained and settled after they come to the altar.
Avoid making your proposition so weak and easy that to respond becomes meaningless. The Scriptures say, He “commandeth all men every where to repent.”
Avoid making rash statements, such as, “The Holy Ghost left that man tonight.” It might keep him from ever trying to find God; and then he might get saved in the next service, which would place you in a poor light as a prophet.
Avoid speaking disparagingly of any other church. There may be people in the audience who have strong ties of kinship or sentiment with that church, and unkind remarks, even when true, may drive them away. Crowds are too small these days; we cannot afford to lose anyone from our audiences.
Avoid public issues from the pulpit. You may be right, but someone is sure to take the other fellow’s side.
Avoid making a hobby of nonessentials and preaching your personal convictions as though they were essential to salvation. The exhortation of the Scriptures is, “Preach the word.”
Avoid using illustrations that are extreme and treating them as though such instances are common. I dare say all the vivid ones you know are the exception rather than the rule.
THINK ON THESE THINGS
Faith is a definite asset in giving an invitation. Draw your net with the assurance that God is there. The meeting is His, so expect results. While you are pulling from the pulpit, God is working in the audience. Have faith; we are “workers together with God.”
Know Your Crowd
The soul winner should study his audience. Watch faces for signs of conviction. When you see someone under conviction, slip quickly to his side and invite him to come. Just a word from the preacher at such a time has brought thousands into the Kingdom.
Be Honest, Sincere
Be careful never to leave a question or a doubt in anyone’s mind as to your sincerity. You are dealing with immortal souls, and on this dealing may hinge eternal life for someone.
Be on the Alert
Always be on the alert both to the voice of God and to a change in the attitude of your audience. Often in the midst of a hard invitation, a thought will grip you to exhort on some other line, change your proposition, or change your song. Such impulses should be obeyed and you will find they will often change the tide.
The invitation is a time for serious, positive, deliberate thought. If there was ever a time when a man needs all his wits about him, it is when he is making this all-important decision of where he will spend eternity. Never use anything which might distract his thinking from these lines.
Keep Your Invitation
It is seldom wise to turn the invitation over to another or to grant anyone’s request to speak to the audience. In most cases it will hinder rather than help.
Use the Pastor
As a rule it is not wise for a pastor to take over the invitation unless the evangelist requests him to do so. However, the evangelist can often use the pastor to great advantage. Frequently when I have found myself failing in the invitation I have asked the pastor to make an appeal and seekers were the results. At times I have taken it back and at other times I have let him close it.
After a long invitation, yet still feeling we should not quit, I have been able to get a new start and grip on the situation by saying, “This is the last stanza, unless the pastor suggests we sing another.” Most pastors will sense the situation and make the suggestion, which will put you in the clear to continue your invitation. The pastor’s suggesting it will make the folk feel better about it.
There is usually quite a tension immediately following an evangelistic message and it is hard for the unsaved to be the first to make a move. ‘This tension can be relieved and the invitation aided greatly if the pastor, or someone in the audience who is vitally interested, will step out in the aisle and move about in the audience.
After several services with such tension and no move, I have privately requested the pastor or some interested layman to do this, and it has helped me in getting a break.
It has been said, “A sermon without illustrations is like a house without windows.” Striking, tender, gripping, thought-provoking illustrations are some of the soul winner’s best weapons.
C. E. Cornell
Rev. C. E. Cornell, that prince of soul winners, said. “Use three good illustrations, one at the beginning of your message to get their attention, one in the middle to catch those going astray, and one at the close to clinch the truth you are trying to present.”
Regardless of the kind you use at the opening or in the body of your message, be sure those at the close are given with a view of persuasion.
Your Own Are Best
Your own illustrations are best if you have them. But if not, use others but never claim them as your own. Much harm has often been done in this way.
Vary Your Illustrations
Illustrations preceding an invitation should or may be varied. They should make men think, stir the emotions, move them to tears, challenge their courage, or frighten them with impending danger.
Do not avoid sentiment. Stories of mother, home, and heaven have won many souls to Christ. However, always keep in mind that, no matter how gripping, tender, or moving the story may be, it is “not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord.”
All methods, plans, and practices are worthless without the blessing of God upon them, and for this blessing we should always pray earnestly.
There are, however, certain methods that God often uses, methods that seem to affect some people and bring definite results.
It is well to understand that no method will always work. That which at one time proved so effective and brought wonderful results, the very next time may utterly fail.
There are many methods which may be effectively used in giving an invitation, and all I may suggest I have used often to the salvation of many souls. At other times I have used them with no results whatever. We cannot emphasize too much that in soul winning all methods must be anointed by the Spirit.
The Raised Hand
It is often well at the close of the message to ask those interested to raise their hands. I usually ask those who have been filled with the Spirit, then those who have been saved, and then those who are interested in either one or the other. This is a step toward God and it gives personal workers, as well as yourself, a chance to spot those manifesting concern.
When the spirit of conviction seems to be upon the people, it often helps to ask those who have raised their hands to go a step further and stand. Most of those who respond will come to the altar.
I have used this occasionally to good advantage, “How many are interested enough to step right out without a song and come and kneel at the altar?” Any who are concerned enough to do this are very close to settling the question of salvation.
In your message, in your invitation, in your exhortation, and in all your methods, keep the responsibility on individuals. Emphasize the fact that God does not leave them, they leave Him. They drive Him away. They force the issue. They make it impossible for God to save them.
Never say or do anything that will lead folks to believe that Christ is unwilling to save. “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him,” and He “is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish.”
You Act Deliberately
After a sermon on walking in the light or some kindred theme, I have found the following exhortation often effective. “You have heard it said people get so excited at the revival that they do not know what they are doing, but that is not true here. You know what you are doing; your mind was never more clear and you were never acting more deliberately than you are now.
“There may have been times when you have unthoughtedly turned Christ away, but not tonight. If you reject Him now, you do so consciously, willfully, deliberately, knowingly. With the light and knowledge you have of the way of salvation, can you afford to say ‘no’ tonight?”
Have a Goal
It is sometimes good to set your heart on a certain number of seekers that should be at the altar. The spirit of your service and the liberty God has given you will help you do this after you start your invitation. When you have chosen your number, tell the audience how many you think should come forward, whether five, ten, or more, and pull for that number. For instance, “Three are here now. Where are the others? Who will be the fourth?” With prayer, faith, and persistency you will be far more likely to reach your goal than you will with no reference to the number.
Inform the Audience
I have found it well, when God is blessing the invitation, to inform the congregation from time to time how many are at the altar. As the number increases, both your faith and the faith of the Christians are strengthened and those needing salvation are encouraged to come forward for prayer.
In the last service I held with Dr. L. A. Reed, when ninety-one came forward, at my request Dr. Reed stood near me during my invitation and informed me from time to time how many were kneeling, and I told the audience. As the number kneeling increased, many were encouraged to go out into the tabernacle urging friends and loved ones to come.
Remember, however, in mentioning the number kneeling, to avoid mentioning thirteen. Some will not come with that number at the altar, or if you mention the number preceding it.
Seekers Need to Be Alone
I have never found it wise to urge Christians to come and pray with seekers during the invitation. I have seen two or three people so concerned over one person at the altar that the invitation was defeated. Do not be in too much of a hurry; it helps a seeker to kneel alone and think.
This difficulty of workers coming too early to deal with seekers can be avoided if the preacher will say at the beginning of his invitation: “Let us hold steady, pray, and do one thing at a time; and when the invitation is finished, we will all gather around the altar and pray with those needing help.”
Have a plan and work it. Do one thing at a time. Have someone place the seekers, or show them where to kneel, so you can most effectively deal with them. If chairs must be used to extend the altar, turn them sideways, so the workers can deal across the chair with the seeker.
Do not rush through your invitation. Hang on. Keep pulling. Ninety per cent of the invitations fail because the preacher quits too soon.
If your appeal does not seem to be taking hold, stop everything’ and pray a few words, then start over again. Ask again for raised hands; appeal to those responding to come for just one prayer. This proposition has often proved helpful for me: “If you do not care to come for the altar service, are you interested enough to come for the first prayer? I will call on someone to pray, and when that prayer is finished return to your seat if you desire.” I have seen scores come on this appeal. Some, of course, will return to their seats, but the majority will remain and many pray through.
A Personal Appeal
If during your invitation you see a face that indicates interest and conviction, go yourself and speak to that one. In this very way God has helped me to lead hundreds to Christ.
Another method which has often helped in getting the unsaved to come for prayer is as follows: Call a number of fathers and mothers who are elderly people to come and kneel inside the altar. Do not call for volunteers to come but select those who are godly, respected, and in whom people have confidence. Then say: “We are going to have prayer. How many of you would like to have these good fathers and mothers pray for you? If you would, come, kneel here at the altar. Let this mother represent your mother, this father your father.” I have seen gratifying results follow.
Some folks will respond to a challenge. I have used this many times with good results. “How many of you have the moral courage to step out before your friends, before this crowd, and come down to the front and kneel? I challenge your courage. I know it is not easy, it is hard to do; in fact, it takes more real courage than most have. How about it? Are you courageous enough to step out right now regardless of what others may think or say? Do you believe in your mother’s God? Would you be ashamed to let this audience know where you stand? Again I challenge your courage; come, kneel while we sing a verse of song.”
The element of surprise is sometimes very effective. People expect an evangelistic service at night; surprise them by planning such a service for Sunday school or at the morning worship hour. If done too often, there might be some reaction; but to do this occasionally, unannounced, once or twice a year, will do far more good than harm.
I usually ask the privilege of taking over the entire Sunday-school hour, except Primary and Beginner groups, confide my plan to the pastor and superintendent only, pull for an on-time record, preach as soon after the opening as possible, start my invitation by 10:45 a.m., and do our work around the altar at the usual worship hour. This gives the people who are not particularly interested a chance to get out early. God has greatly blessed this method.
Ask, “How many unsaved are here who believe the Bible? If you do, come give me your hand and return to your seat.”
Invite everyone in the audience who is especially interested in someone now in the service to come and stand around the altar. Then ask, “All who would like an interest in the prayers of these Christians, will you come and stand (or kneel) with them for a closing prayer?”
Calling all mothers in the audience who have unsaved children to come and kneel and then making an appeal to those who are unsaved has proved effective, especially in reaching unsaved children who may be present.
I have at times used this to advantage, “If you have loved ones (or a mother) in heaven and you hope to meet them someday, come and kneel with us for one prayer.”
Do not be afraid of being sentimental. Do not be finicky about making an appeal based on mother, home, and heaven. Some hearts can be touched in no other way.
The fact that the most popular type of songs on the air are sentimental songs, many built around the theme of mother, home, and heaven; the fact that some singers of such songs are making close to a million dollars a year, proves that sentiment still moves hearts, and we can use the right kind to win people to Christ.
Ask all who were converted after they were fifty to stand. There will not be many and it will greatly help in driving home the fact, “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
If you can get Christians to turn and speak to someone standing near them, it will often mean a lot. Many a soul needs just that personal touch to start him on the way to the road of life.
THE FOURTH PROPOSITION
God has helped me to help thousands on what I call “The Fourth Proposition.” This was suggested to me by hearing Dr. Chapman say, “We invite people forward to be saved, reclaimed, and filled with the Spirit; and I sometimes wonder if we should not have a fourth proposition inviting Christians to the altar to get help.”
Here are about the words I use in giving this invitation. “I have been inviting you each night to come forward and seek on three counts, to be saved, to be reclaimed, or to be filled with the Spirit. The altar is still open for anyone in need of any of these three. But tonight I wish to emphasize to you a fourth proposition, not to the unsaved or backslider, but to the Christian.
“This is not for reconsecration, or a ‘get closer to God’ appeal, which is so often given, but a definite proposition as to your own personal needs.
“How many Christians are there here who say: ‘Preacher, I am not backslidden. I love God and I am trying to hold on to Him, but I will admit I have lost ground. I have seen better days spiritually. I am not at the place I used to be.”
“I have not gone back to the old habits, the old haunts, or the old sins but I have been so busy trying to make a living, send my children to school, and support my family that I find my soul lean. I have been so busy in legitimate things that I have neglected weightier matters.”
“You definitely admit you are not where you once were, and where you ought to be and want to be. Would you be willing to come and kneel and let us gather around and pray for you?”
I have seen many helped in this way.
At the close of the invitation on the fourth proposition, before I call the workers forward to pray, I say to those kneeling: “I said at the beginning of the invitation that the altar was open to any and all who had a definite need to be saved, reclaimed, or filled with the Spirit. Now, that we may know how to pray, I want those whose need is to be saved or reclaimed to raise your hands. Now, those who know your real need is to be filled with the Spirit, raise your hands. We know the others kneeling are here as Christians on the fourth proposition. The Bible says, ‘Pray one for another,’ so we are going to gather here and pray for these according to their needs.” By asking these questions, a definite division is made, and faith is strengthened rather than hurt.
You will find that many who come forward on the fourth appeal will, after they are on their knees, raise their hands indicating that they need to be reclaimed or they are not clear in their consecration.
The writer has had many pastors say during the invitation, “I have never heard this appeal before, but it is just what many of my people need.”
A BRIEF APPEAL
After an invitation that failed to bring results, I have had some wonderful services on the following proposition.
“How many are there here who have something in your life over which you do not have complete victory? something over which the devil keeps fighting you, making it hard for you to keep at your best for God?
“It may be one of many things. It may be some habit you have found hard to give up. It may be some thing or it may be some one. You do not need to tell me or anyone else what it is, but there is something hindering you spiritually. There is power in prayer and God is still on the throne. If you want complete victory, come and kneel and we will have the saints gather around you and pray. Prayer changes things.”
This appeal will nearly always bring a response, and I have known some remarkable deliverances and fixed habits of many years broken because of this appeal.
The following appeal has proved worth-while. “I want every man in the audience who is a Christian, and you have definitely settled it to go with God, you are proud to take your stand for Him and you would like to recommend this way of life to the men and boys of this congregation and you urge them to take this step now, will you please stand?” While they are standing make your appeal to the unsaved. The same appeal may be made with the ladies.
To make your appeal somewhat personal to the individual is often effective. For instance, “I want the young man in the center section who raised his hand,” or, “I want the young lady in the rear who held up her hand to step out during the first stanza of song and come forward.”
Appeal for Help
The call for help has always appealed to some people. It was the method Jesus used with the woman by the well in Samaria, “Give me to drink.”
This has helped me. “I want you who raised your hands to assist me in giving this invitation.
“You may think, What can I do? ”
“If you will step out and come forward as soon as we start singing, it will encourage others and greatly help.”
It is thrilling to see a young couple step out for Christ. Many would like to do this, but each is waiting on the other to make the start. The following suggestion has often brought both to the altar. “If there is an unsaved young couple here, will each of you turn to the other, take his hand, and say, ‘I will go if you will’?” Often that is all that is needed, and together they step out just as surely and literally as Simon Peter turned from his fishing boat to follow the Master.
If either the wife or husband steps out alone, go immediately to the other and ask him to come and kneel alongside. If he is already saved, it will not hurt him; and if not, he will most likely settle it in that service. In this way, God has enabled me to win many a husband or wife to Him.
This appeal to Christians has aided me many times in getting a break in the invitation. “It is hard to get sinners to move out ahead of Christians who are walking back of light. Some of you are doing that now. Jesus said, ‘Tarry … until ye be endued with power.’ You haven’t done that. He said, ‘Wait for the promise of the Father.’ You haven’t done that. You have never been filled with the Holy Ghost. You have thought about it. You have meant to. You know you ought to, but you have put it off. This attitude on your part is a hindrance to others. If you would step out and seek Him in all His fullness, sinners would step out and come into the Kingdom.”
PASTORS CAN HELP
It is considered unwise for a pastor to tell an evangelist how and what to preach, and there are some evangelists who would resent even suggestions. However, a pastor can greatly help his revivalist, especially if the congregation is not large, by telling him whether or not he has anyone in the service to work on.
He need not speak about them personally or in detail, but the whispered words, “There are several unsaved here tonight,” or, “There are a number of Christians here who need the work of the Spirit,” has often aided me in bringing the message and in drawing the net. Such knowledge regarding a strange audience is of untold value to the soul winner.
DON’TS FOR FISHERMEN
Don’t show discouragement.
Don’t say anything or make any move that will destroy faith.
Don’t ignore the pastor; he is the shepherd of the flock and must remain to lead and guide them after you are gone.
Don’t try to tie the folks to yourself only so far as you may lead them to Christ.
Don’t ever leave the impression that God is a tyrant anxious to punish and destroy. The Bible says He “is
longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
Don’t make an issue of people leaving when you start your invitation. I have never known an evangelist who could make them return, but I have known of efforts to stop them ruining many an invitation. It is best to appeal for them to stay at the beginning of the invitation; but if they start out anyway, the less said the better.
Don’t blame the people if there is no response to your invitation. They may be partly to blame, but it seldom does any good to tell them so.
Don’t use extreme methods, such as placing a Bible in the doorway and challenging them to walk out over it.
Don’t form a circle of prayer around the building with Christians holding hands and daring sinners to break it.
Don’t ask all the Christians to move to one part of the building separate from the unsaved.
Such methods may move some, but those not reached are often damaged beyond repair.
Don’t make propositions which may confuse. Make your appeal plain, simple, explicit. Use as few words as possible and it is often well to repeat, so your listeners will be sure to understand.
“B’S” FOR FISHERMEN
Be a Christian.
Be a lady — a gentleman.
Be interested in others.
Be always dependent on God.
Be prayerful at all times.
Paul said, “Make full proof of thy ministry.”
* * * * * * *