by John Campbell
This title causes most of us to recall a scene of discipline or correction, and yes, we are on the receiving end of that correction. Because of that flashback or recollection, the image is not usually one of our most treasured memories. In contrast, however, when speaking with a new Christian it is imperative that eye contact be made. It is important for new Christians to hear in our words, as well as see in our eyes, a genuine concern for their understanding of the issue being addressed. In many cases, I believe the eyes are as good a tool of communication, if not better, than the words we speak.
Studies have shown that we give 25 times more attention to what we see than what we hear. Why is this so important, you ask? Sometimes, I think we are caught up in the world’s standard of success, where numbers or volume are the important measures of our labor. We live in a secular world of sales quotas, monthly goals and increased production. More is always better and quality may have to take a back seat to quantity. We can get by with that standard if it is limited to things, but it falls woefully short when applied to new Christians. Leading them to the point of praying the salvation prayer and then letting them find their own nurturing will not measure up to God’s will for their efforts.
A salvation message tells them how important they are. Discipling proves it. The new Christian does not care about being one of the many hands that were raised. They do care deeply that someone cares enough to spend whatever time it takes to bring them to a point of assurance and understanding. This has been done with some success in Newcomer classes, but the strongest soulwinners are those who have had a one-on-one mentoring experience. They realize that help and support are always there for them as they labor in the harvest field. If we are to build strong relevant churches, we need to assume the responsibility and blessings that accompany the one-on-one mentoring.
Looking back on my years as a Christian, I recall the many opportunities I have had to testify to the power of the gospel, and the decisions that were made as God blessed my testimony. It was only after a closer look that I realized there were only a few of those converts active in sharing their story. My experience had become just that—my experience. Not only was it no longer as rewarding as it had been, but it was not Scriptural, and also not very smart. A scripture I had read many times jumped out at me again: “two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work” (Ecclesiastes 4:9).
I immediately set out to attempt to reproduce a soulwinner. This effort came about the same time the Promise Keepers held their mega event at the Minneapolis Metrodome. I took a longtime friend and athlete to this event, and he gave his heart to the Lord. We started the process of small-group (two) ministry stressing personal accountability. For one year, we have been meeting on Wednesdays at 6 a.m.
On November 17, 1996, our church, in conjunction with the National Lay Witness Week, had an Outreach Sunday stressing salvation, and I was able to share my testimony. My friend was responsible for five of the many first-time visitors in attendance who heard the gospel. Two made decisions for Christ that day. Why? Because “two are better than one.” Currently, three mornings a week are set aside for one-on-one sessions with other men. Why? Because maybe four are better than two!
I must share with you that this desire did not just appear at that large gathering of men. For years, through many presentations of the Department of Lay Ministries, I knew this was how God wanted men to get active for Him and involved with other men. I put off this call because the Holy Spirit seemed to be saying to me, “Before you enter into this activity, I want you to look at Me when I’m talking to you.” I was expecting the stern correction I had experienced as a youth when encountering that phrase.
When I finally did seek direction in this outreach attempt, I did not see or experience the correction I had anticipated. What I saw was the compassion God has for all of us, and the support and guidance available whenever it is needed. Men, go ahead and “look at Him when He’s talking to you.” It will change your life!