Throughout history, Christians have used many different approaches to spread Christianity through the practice of evangelism and soul-winning. According to John R. Rice, “The call to evangelize is a holy calling …” Evangelism is at the heart of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19–20). Christians are called to be witnesses of their faith to a watching world (Acts 1:8). The word martyr comes from the Greek word for “witness.” Early Christians were often put to death for their “witness” to Christ. These people were so motivated for winning souls that they gave their lives to that cause.
In our today’s world, especially, in Ali-Udo District, such obstacle as persecution is reduced, however, we are also faced with challenges and hindrances to effective evangelism and soul-winning. James Kennedy states that:
The Great Commission describes a continuum of outreach from the local community to peoples around the globe such that the local church is concerned about the loss around the corner as around the globe, however, the resources at our disposal to achieve local and world evangelism are unmatched in church history.
The Assemblies of God Nigeria, Ali-Udo District is to engage a world without Christ in such a way as to expand the kingdom of God by drawing people into a life-giving and life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. According to Peter Wagner, “The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches and winning souls for the expansion of the Kingdom.”
Evangelism is the act of earnestly proclaiming the gospel to sinners so they can turn to Christ and follow Him. Soul-winning is the practice of trying to lead lost sinners to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. In Greenfield’s words, Biblical evangelism is God-centered, not man-centered. It trusts the message, not the messenger. It relies on God’s power, not persuasiveness. It seeks to save the lost, not transform the culture.
Roy Fish, professor of evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary asserts that his extensive study of commentaries has led him to conclude that evangelism in the New Testament is what “we usually consider it in our denomination and our churches today . . . preaching of the gospel, with the primary purpose of going in to win people to initial conversion to the Christian faith.”
Honest diagnosis on the condition of the AG churches in Ali-Udo would include the word “unhealthy”. In Ali-Udo, the churches are losing the battle of evangelism. Some are noticed, while others go unnoticed. Bill Bright, said “One of the great scandals of the centuries is the condition of the church of Christ today.” According to Aubrey Malphurs:
While numerous signs indicate that there’s danger ahead if the established church does not change its attitude toward evangelism, there’s a solution. . . New churches have the potential to pursue lost people with a passion.”
Hence, evangelism which gives room for discussion and mutual coexistence among individuals from different tribes and cultures has been bathed with numerous challenges which have hindered its effectiveness in Assemblies of God Nigeria, Ali-Udo District. This study shall survey such hindrances.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Evangelism/ soul-winning is important to the fulfillment of the great commission. Therefore, the statement of the problem of this research work is to survey the hindrances to evangelism/ soul-winning in the Ali-Udo District of Assemblies of God Nigeria.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The overall objective of this study is to evaluate the hindrances to evangelism in the Ali-Udo District of Assemblies of God, Nigeria. The following areas shall be critically analyzed:
- The concept of evangelism and the Great Commission.
- The benefit of evangelism in Soul-winning.
- Hindrances to effective evangelism/soul-winning in Ali-Udo District
- Impact of evangelism on church growth
1.4 Research Questions
With regards to the above objectives, the following questions arose:
- How is evangelism important in soul-winning?
- What is the benefit of evangelism in soul-winning?
- What are the hindrances to evangelism and soul winning in Ali-Udo District?
- What is the impact of evangelism on the growth of the church?
1.5 Significance of the Study
This study on examining the hindrances to evangelism and soul-winning in Ali-Udo District is significant to pastors, gospel ministers, evangelists, bible students, and churches in several ways:
- The result of this analysis will draw the attention of pastors and ministers of the gospel to acknowledging the true roles of evangelism with an emphasis on combating observed hindrances to effective evangelism.
- It will also reveal the challenges to evangelism and soul-winning in Assemblies of God churches in Ali-Udo District and seek biblical measures to fulfilling the great commission.
- The results of the study will reveal to the church, the growth impact of evangelism and soul-winning.
- It should also help leaders/ presbyters in Ali-Udo District to be able to place ministers in their gifted positions without obstructing the activities and growth potentials of the church.
- It is also the belief of the researcher that the suggestions and recommendations offered at the end of this research, if applied will help the churches in Ali-Udo District and beyond in fulfilling the great commission.
- The research work will also serve as material for further research for student pastors and add to the volume of knowledge in the field of evangelism.
1.6 Limitations of the Study
In the course of carrying out this research, the researcher experienced some constraints: time and finance.
Firstly, because it was not possible to involve the entire churches and sections in Ali-Udo District, the researcher limited his field survey to some selected churches and sections in the Ali-Udo District of Assemblies of God, Nigeria. He could not get to all the places to administer his questionnaire.
Secondly, due to time and financial limitations, the researcher could not meet up with all that was required for the research. Also, time was short due to a combination of research work with academic duty. However, these limitations did not devalue the authenticity of the result of the investigation.
1.7 Delimitation of the Study
This study is restricted to Assemblies of God Nigeria, Ali-Udo District of Abia State. The study evaluates the hindrances to evangelism/soul-winning in Assemblies of God, Ali-Udo District. It is delimited to independent variables. It covers the existing sections in AG Ali-Udo District. It has a total of thirty-nine (39) churches.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Exousia – Authority or power (The Lord’s right to command obedience)
Eujaggelisthv – A Greek word for Evangelist
Euaggelizesthai – a Greek word meaning to bring good news.
Euaggelion – A Greek word that means gospel
This chapter reviewed related literature on hindrances to evangelism and soul-winning. The chapter takes a look at the concept of Evangelism and the Great Commission, evangelism and soul-winning, benefits of evangelism/ soul-winning, hindrances to effective evangelism and soul-winning, the impact of evangelism/soul-winning, and summary.
2.1 The Concept of Evangelism
According to Tony Miano, “The English word ‘evangelism’ comes from the Greek word euaggelion. Most literally translated in the noun form, euaggelion which means: “gospel” or “good news.”[i] In the verb form euaggelizesthai, the meaning of the word changes slightly to “announce” or “bring good news.” The Greek word in its various forms appears fifty-five times in the New Testament. In addition to the before-mentioned translations, the Greek word is also translated as “preach.” The Bible in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, established that evangelism is the announcement, proclamation, and/or preaching of the gospel, the good news of and about Jesus Christ.
According to Collins Dictionary of English, Evangelism is the preaching of the Christian Gospel or the practice of relaying information about a particular set of beliefs to others with the intention of conversion. [ii] The term is not restricted to any particular Christian tradition, and should not be confused with Evangelicalism, a common term for a wide range of Evangelical Protestant churches and groups.
Christians who specialize in evangelism are often known as evangelists whether they are in their home communities or living as missionaries in the field, although some Christian traditions refer to such people as missionaries in either case. Some Christian traditions consider evangelists to be in a leadership position; they may be found preaching to large meetings or in governance roles. Christian groups that actively encourage evangelism are sometimes known as evangelistic or evangelists. The scriptures do not use the word evangelism, but evangelist is used in (the translations of) Acts 21:8, Ephesians 4:11, and 2 Timothy 4:5. The communication of Christian faith to new geographical areas and cultures is often referred to as evangelization, or specifically, world evangelization, although some Christian traditions use evangelism and evangelization interchangeably.
Evangelism, which is the communication of the gospel message, includes a warning, an explanation, and a call. Evangelism includes warning people about sin and the consequences of sin (John 16:8; Acts 24:25; Revelation 20:11-15). It includes an explanation of God’s remedy for sin—the gospel (Acts 8:29-35; Romans 3:21-26; 2 Corinthians 5:21), and it includes the clear call to repent (to turn from sin and to turn toward God) and believe the gospel by faith (Mark 1:15; Luke 13:1-5; Acts 17:29-31; Romans 1:17; Romans 10:9-13).
In recent history, certain Bible passages have been used to promote evangelism. William Carey, in a book entitled, An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens popularised a quotation, where, according to the Bible, during his last days on earth Jesus commanded his eleven disciples (the apostles) as follows:[iii] “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28: 19, 20 NIV).
However, recent scholarship by Chris Wright and others has suggested that such activity is promoted by the entire Bible, or at least the wider term ‘mission’, although the meaning of the word ‘mission’ and its relationship to ‘evangelism’ is disputed amongst Christians.[iv]
2.2 The Concept of Great Commission
The Great Commission of Christianity is the instruction of the resurrected Jesus Christ to His disciples that they spread his teachings to all the nations of the world. It has become a tenet in Christian theology emphasizing ministry, missionary work, evangelism, and baptism.
According to Wayne Jackson, before Jesus ascended back to heaven, he gathered his disciples together and declared:[v] “All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Mt. 28:18-20 ASV).
This section of Scripture is known as the Great Commission. As the last recorded personal directive of the Savior to His disciples, it holds great significance to all followers of Christ. It is the foundation for evangelism and cross-cultural missions work in Christian theology. Because the Lord’s instructions were to go to all nations and that he would be with us until the very end of the age, Christians of all generations have embraced this command. From the scriptural passage, we could deduce the components of the Great Commission which are discussed below.
[i] Tony Miano. “What is Evangelism?” (Nampa carm.org: Christian Apologetic & Research Ministry, 2014). 1-2.
[ii] Collins English Dictionary. Collins. 2006.
[iii] William Carey in Jay Riley Case, An Unpredictable Gospel: American Evangelicals and World Christianity, 1812-1920. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).
[iv] Christopher Wright. The Mission of God. IVP Academic. 2006, 2-3.
[v] Wayne Jackson, The Great Commission According to Matthew. (Christian Courier, 2009), 1.
 John R. Rice. The Evangelist and His Work (Murfreesboro, TN: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1968), 11.
 James D. Kennedy. “Overcoming Evangelism Barriers.” Springfield, MO: Assemblies of God. Enrichment Journal. 2016.
 C. Peter Wagner, Church Planting for a Greater Harvest (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1990), 11.
 David Stewarts. Soul Winning. Retrieved on 16th May 2016 from www.jesus-is-savior.com
 Pastor Greenfield. Biblical Evangelism, Part 2: The Meaning of Evangelism. Orwell Bible Church. September 12, 2007. 3.
 Toby Druin, “Roy Fish: Evangelist’s Call Is Legitimate,” Baptist Standard, January 23, 1991: 12-13.
 Bill Bright, in Baptist Press article By Mark Kelly. Bright spoke at the Southern Baptist Convention. Jun 13, 2002.
 Aubrey Malphurs, Planting Growing Churches for the 21st Century (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992), 193.