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Evangelism and soul winning

ABSTRACT

The study examined hindrances to evangelism and soul winning. The primary purpose of the study was to survey and evaluate the hindrances to evangelism and soul winning, using Assemblies of God Nigeria, Ali-Udo District as a case study. Four research questions were addressed.  Data were collected from the library and selected participants in Assemblies of God Nigeria, Ali-Udo District, Abia State. Data were analyzed using simple percentages. It was found that evangelism and soul winning has a significant role in church growth. It was also found that lack of confidence, fear, self-righteousness, self-centeredness and lack of unity are hinderances to evangelism and soul winning in Ali-Udo District. It is recommended that Christians of all ages should be educated and encouraged to partake at all times, in the course of evangelism and soul winning activities. It was also recommended that believers should cast out fear, self-righteousness and self-centredness to ensure that they effectively carry out evangelism to unbelievers.

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background of the Study

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 …”[1] 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). In fact, the word martyr comes from the Greek word for “witness.” Early Christians were often put to death for their “witness” to Christ. Clearly, 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 lost around the corner as around the globe, however, the resources at our disposal to achieve local and world evangelism are unmatched in church history.[2]

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.”[3]

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.[4] In Greenfield 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.[5]

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.”[6]

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 on 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.”[7]  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.”[8]

Hence, evangelism which gives room for discussion and mutual coexistence among individuals from different tribes and culture 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 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 Ali-Udo District of Assemblies of God, Nigeria. The following areas shall be critically analysed:

  1. The concept of evangelism and the Great Commission.
  2. The benefit of evangelism in Soul winning.
  • Hindrances to effective evangelism/soul winning in Ali-Udo District
  1. Impact of evangelism on church growth

1.4       Research Questions

With regards to the above objectives, the following questions arose:

  1. How is evangelism important in soul winning?
  2. What are the benefit of evangelism in soul winning?
  3. What are the hindrances to evangelism and soul winning in Ali-Udo District?
  4. 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 a number of ways:

  1. The result of this analysis will draw the attention of pastors and ministers of the gospel to acknowledging the true roles of evangelism with emphasis on combating observed hindrances to effective evangelism.
  2. 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.
  3. The results of the study will reveal to the church, the growth impact of evangelism and soul winning.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. The research work will also serve as a 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 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 – Greek word meaning to bring good news.

Euaggelion – A Greek word that means gospel

 

ENDNOTES

 

CHAPTER TWO

REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

2.0       Introduction

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.”[9] 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. [10] 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 who actively encourage evangelism are sometimes known as evangelistic or evangelist. 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:[11] “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of 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.[12]

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:[13] “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 of the Son and of 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 is discussed below.

2.2.1    Authority

Arndt and Wilbur states that, “The basis of the Lord’s “marching orders” is His authority. “All authority hath been given me,” declared the risen Savior.”[14] The Greek term exousia is better rendered “authority” (ASV) than “power” (KJV). It denotes the Lord’s right, as the Son of God, to command obedience. There are several important points that need to be mentioned relative to this phrase.

Firstly, though the verbal “hath been given” is past tense, it anticipates the imminent coronation of Christ when, following his ascension, the Lord was to “sit at [God’s] right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion,” (Eph. 1:20,21). Carson stated that, “While it is true that Jesus exercised divine authority during his teaching ministry (cf. Mt. 7:29; 10:1, 7, 8; 22:43, 44), at the time of his return to the Father, that authority was expanded, i.e., exercised both in heaven and on earth.”[15] Only the Father Himself is exempted from this reign (cf. 1 Cor. 15:27, 8). Surely this declaration of the regal authority of Jesus Christ is evidence of His deity.

Secondly, the fact that such authority was “given” to the Lord is a commentary on his subordination to the Father. Prior to the incarnation, i.e., the point at which the eternal Word (cf. Jn. 1:1) became flesh (cf. Jn. 1:14), the Second Person of the Godhead possessed an “equality” with Jehovah. Jackson noted that: “In assuming the ‘likeness of man,’ the Lord chose not to retain that equality. Rather, He “emptied Himself” of the independent exercise of certain divine prerogatives, and yielded to the will of his Father” (Phil. 2:5ff)[16].

Thirdly, Attwater argued that, “During His reign, Christ would delegate certain authority (cf. Mt. 19:28); yet, there is no biblical evidence whatever that he would appoint any earthly dignitary to function as “the visible head of the Church on earth,” as is claimed by Roman Catholic writers. He emphasized that, “Jesus is “the exclusive head” of that institution (Col. 1:18).”[17]

2.2.2    Make disciples

Friberg opined that in the Greek text, Matthew 28:19 begins with a participle, literally, “having gone.” He added that participles may sometimes be used in the imperative (command) sense, hence, it is not improper to render the term as “Go” in this passage. Christ thus admonished his men to go forth and “make disciples.”[18]

Vine established that, “The expression ‘make disciples’ (“teach” KJV) is also a command. According to him, the basic form of the word is mathetes, which is actually “a learner.” The word derives from the root math, which indicates “thought accompanied by endeavor.”[19] Balz and Schneider suggest that a disciple is one who “stands in relation to another as pupil and is instructed by that person.”[20]

The Congregationalist scholar Philip Dodderidge, in his famous Family Expositor, argued that the verbal matheteusate in 28:19 “seems to import instruction in the essentials of religion, which it was necessary to know and submit to, before they could regularly be admitted to baptism.”[21]

Similarly, according to Matthew Henry, “the essentials of the religion of Jesus – the remolding of the character, through the truth – is necessary to entitle any individual to baptism.”[22] Obviously, therefore, infants are excluded because the New Testament knows nothing of baby-baptism. Thus, when one is taught, he should be baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

After one leads his student into a knowledge of and obedience to the Son of God, there is an abiding responsibility to instruct the novice in the fundamentals of the faith. Consistent with this admonition, for example, is the fact that elders are required to “feed the flock” (Acts 20:28).

2.2.3    Abiding presence of Christ

Jesus declared that if His people carry out the commission imposed, He would “be with them always, even to the end of the world.” Is there a more comforting New Testament passage emphasizing the providential activity of the Savior? Later, Paul could say: “At my first defense no one took my part, but all forsook me … but the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me” (2 Tim. 4:16, 17).

Jesus wants us to finish what He began.  He came to the disciples, taught them, and worked with them.  He then died on the cross and rose from the dead. But, before He ascended into heaven, He gave them, and us, the commission to convert the world.  Our effort to honor Christ by obeying His call to make disciples of all nations is something that we can do. We were all called to evangelize and win souls to fulfill this great commission at this time and ages to come.

2.3       The Concept of Soul Winning

According to Larry Moyer, Soul winning is a metaphor for evangelism, or witnessing.[23] As such, this is a good thing to pursue. The Bible calls us to evangelize. 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). In fact, the word martyr comes from the Greek word for “witness.” Early Christians were often put to death for their “witness” to Christ. Clearly, these people were so motivated for winning souls that they gave their lives to that cause.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon writes: “Soul-winning is the chief business of the Christian minister; indeed, it should be the main pursuit of every true believer.  We each should say with Simon Peter, ‘I’m going fishing,’ and with Paul our aim should be, “That I may somehow save some of them.”[24] 

Jesus stressed the importance of soul winning in Luke 9:26: “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.” However, important as such a witness is, in many situations, God wants us to go beyond that. He wants our witness to develop into an effort and determination whereby we are truly endeavoring to win a soul to Christ. Witnessing is similar to throwing bait to a fish, but soul-winning is catching that fish.

2.4       Evangelism and Soul Winning

Evangelism is the art of spreading the good news of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ for the purpose of soul-winning, while soul winning is the art of making converts for Jesus Christ through the spreading of the good news of His saving grace.[25] The Bible taught us different approaches to evangelism and soul winning. These approaches are proven to be effective, although, one may not apply all the approaches the same time; but needs direction from the Holy Spirit to lead him/her on the one to use at any given time.

2.4.1    Prayer

Prayer is one of the effective way to evangelize and win souls for Christ. In Psalm 2:8, the God commanded us saying, “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession”. When we ask God for the souls of the lost, He gives it. I prayed for the lost in my family, asking God to give me their souls for Christ. Paul knew about the power of prayer in evangelism and soul-winning, he admonished Timothy saying:

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4, KJV)

Praying for the salvation of the souls of the lost or sinners is good and acceptable in the sight of God, and He will work together with us to ensure that souls are won to Him through our prayers.

2.4.2    Invitation

The Bible is the book of invitation. God had invited a lot of people to start a journey of personal salvation which led to family and even national salvation. He called out Abraham from pagan life-style to life of faith through invitation. Still today, God is inviting or calling us unto the salvation of our souls. In John 1:40-51, it was recorded that, “One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, we have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus…”

2.4.3    Sharing testimonies of the Lord’s doing

Telling of stories of the Lord’s doing in our lives is a powerful tool for evangelism and soul-winning. The story teller is a living witness of what God has done and with his/her stories people’s life is transformed and they encounter the saving power of Jesus Christ. In John 12:9-11, the Bible revealed that what led to many believing in Jesus was not just about his presence or preaching; but because of Lazarus who He was a living testimony of the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. It is written: “Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus”. (John 12: 9-11)

2.4.4    Teaching of the word of God

After King David was confronted by Prophet Nathan for having had sexual relationship with the wife of Uriah and also, got Uriah killed; he repented from his sins. In verse 10 of Psalm 51, he asked God to create in him a clean heart and renew a right spirit inside of him. In verse 11, he asked God not to cast him from His presence or take away His Holy Spirit from him; but to restore him to the faith. And the reason for these requests was to reach out to sinner and got their souls back to God through the teaching of the ways (word) of God. “Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee” (Psalm 51:13).

God’s ways are God word on how He wants us to do things. His word has the capability of winning souls to Christ if we can share it with the experiences we have. It is written: “The law (Word) of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7).

2.4.5    Witnessing

Witnessing is sharing what you experienced about your life with Jesus. It is sharing your encounter with Him. It is telling what you have seen, heard, as touching Jesus. John wrote his audience saying:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full (1 John 1:1-4).

Peter standing before the Sanhedrims and his audience respectively said: “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him”. Act 5:30-32 Christians are nothing but CHRIST’S WITNESSES. 

2.4.6    Go to the lost, preach, heal, deliver and wrought miracles

Sinners don’t go to church. They go to clubs, bar, hotels, etc. they are not in the church. They are outside the church. The church is a place where souls won for Christ are gathered to be matured in the faith. It is a place where those God added to the church continued in the Apostle’s teaching, prayers, fellowship, communion, etc and grow in the faith. The church should not look for sinners in the church to reach and win for Christ. The sinners are outside there. For us to win them, we need to take the gospel where they are.

Peter, on the Pentecost day, stood where mockers and sinners were, preached to them and won three thousand souls for Christ. We cannot get it right and make a formidable impact in evangelism and soul-winning until we learn to follow the foot step of our master Jesus, even as the apostles did. In Matthew 10:6-8, Jesus commanded His apostles saying: “But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give”.

2.5       Benefits of Evangelism/Soul Winning

Evangelism is dying in many churches today. According to Thom Rainer, when compared the rate of evangelism today to 30 years ago, only one person is being reached with the gospel for every forty to sixty church members. He noted that conversion rate have declined precipitously: where you find numerical growth, you are more likely to find that the growth is transfer of Christians from one church to another.[26] It is important to let believers understand the benefits of evangelism and soul winning so as to rekindle the fire among Christians. Some of the benefits are:

  1. Inexplicable joy. The best cure for sadness and depression is evangelism. The joy that follows it is matchless (Luke 10:1, 17). Once a soul is won, Heaven goes into celebration mood (Luke 15:10). This electric mood in Heaven is also passed down to the folk who did the job. Suddenly one becomes joyful without any material explanation for such a great mood. He becomes a bundle of inexplicable joy.
  2. Reward in Heaven (Matthew 19:27, 29). A soul winner got mansions waiting for him/her in heaven (John 14:2-3), and crowns of glory (1 Peter 5:4). The Bible is explicable about these. Rather than store up treasures here on earth, build up treasure in heaven. The best way to do this is when one goes out for evangelism and wins soul for Christ. Cagan noted that, beyond this life on earth, the Bible promises heavenly rewards to those who win souls.[27]
  3. Divine security (2 Corinthians 11:23-26; Acts 18:9-10). Several times Paul would have been assassinated, but his relevance to Heaven’s soul growth committed God to protect him by all means. He met robbers, he was arrested, there were plots to assassinate him, he was imprisoned several times…no surprise that he came out of all. A soul winner cannot be wasted overnight by natural or unnatural powers, occurrences or mishaps cannot come to a life that is profitable to God in the evangelical field. (Matthew 21:17-19). No wonder the scriptures wrote: … They shall take up serpents and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them and they shall lay their hands on the sick and they shall recover (Matthew 16:15-18).
  4. Manifestations of spiritual gifts. A soul winner can actually begin to experience spiritual gifts in action while preaching to souls through evangelism. The first time the disciples did healing and deliverance on their own was while they went out evangelizing. At their return, they simply could not hide their excitement about the miracles that they “performed”.
  5. Eternal life (Luke 10:20; Philippians 3:14; 4:3-4). Spreading the Gospel in truth and righteousness further cements once place in the Heavenly admission list, the Book of Life. The LORD Jesus affirmed this to the evangelising disciples in simple terms. This is the greatest benefit of all.
  6. Key to accessing a long-awaited breakthrough (Matthew 6:33). Winning a soul attracts divine intervention in our lives. It is one sure way to receiving a miraculous answer to a dragging problem. When Christ went out for soul winning, every of his words had power. This power brought about a net-breaking draught of fishes in the same river that Peter could not catch anything all night. According to Rice, “The Christian who wins souls has special blessings which [others], who do not win souls, never have.”[28]
  7. Divine beautification.Most people do not go out for evangelism or for soul winning because of shyness or some minor limitations but the simple truth is that whenever one goes out for soul winning (with understanding), he/she would be beautified by God just as the bible recorded, ‘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 (Daniel 12:3).

2.6       Hindrances to Effective Evangelism and Soul Winning

Evangelism/soul winning as have been discussed above is the duty of every Christian. But often times, most Christians find it difficult to be involved in witnessing. According to Kim Harrington, there are anywhere between 1500 and 3900 unreached “people groups” in the world today, and approximately two and a half billion people who are as yet totally unevangelized.[29] Essentially, it means there is no way of them getting saved today, short of a sovereign visitation of God.

Furthermore, he noted that, there are many millions of people who are technically within “reached” or “evangelized” areas who have, nevertheless, never heard the name of Jesus Christ and there are multitudes of people who know something of the Christian religion, who may even belong to some church or another, but have never heard the saving Gospel, who do not know that Jesus died for them, and that they can have assurance of eternal life through faith in Him.

On his own, Ralph Winter, noted that, “The world Christian movement has largely stalled in relation to the Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist bloc of unreached peoples.”[30] These three religions comprise the lion’s share of the unreached peoples. Not much progress is being made to reach them. The question that would be answered here is, what are the hindrances to evangelism and soul winning?

2.6.1    Lack of hospitality

One of the most common hindrances to evangelism and soul winning today is the simple fact that too many believers have little or no significant contact with unbelievers.[31] Many of us work side-by-side with them for hours at a time on a regular basis, but after that, do we spend any time with them socially?  Do we have any meaningful friendships with unbelievers?

It seems that, over the course of our lives as believers in Jesus Christ, our circle of friends often becomes more and more narrow in at least one very important sense – we for whatever reason end up having fewer and fewer unbelieving friends.  And because of that, our opportunities for evangelism are then fewer and fewer as well. Thabiti M. Anyabwile writes,

Perhaps our failure to be hospitable explains why so many Christians have few non-Christian friends and find themselves far removed from evangelistic opportunities. We cannot share the gospel with a person we fail to greet, or speak to a person with whom we refuse to spend time. Apart from being hospitable on some level, sharing the good news becomes close to impossible.[32]

Many of us need to work at reversing this trend. We need to resist the urge to isolate and insulate ourselves from others.  We need to actively look for ways to get involved in the lives of others, and to allow them to be involved in ours as well. If we do that, things may get a little messy and uncomfortable at times. But we will eventually find that, over time, one of the biggest obstacles to evangelism has been removed.  It really is much easier to share the good news if we cultivate the grace of hospitality.

2.6.2    Laziness

 Richard Phillips convincingly states that:

Many of us are ineffective evangelists simply because we are too lazy and self-centered. We are not willing to cross the street to meet people. We do not care enough for the eternal destiny of friends, family members, and co-workers to risk the social hazard of talking about the Lord.[33]

This might be one of the primary reasons behind our lack of evangelism & outreach. We might well be pleasantly surprised by what the Lord would do through us if we would just step out in faith by reaching out to someone with the gospel or even just a simple invitation to worship with us at church on Sunday. As the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 10:14-15, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

2.6.3    Division

In John 17 Jesus prayed for the unity of the church.  His prayer clearly shows us the critical importance of unity in the church. And one of the primary reasons that He gives us for the vital importance of unity has to do with our witness or testimony to truth of the gospel.  In John 17: 20-23 He says,

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

Unity (or lack of it) makes a huge difference in soul winning because the world is watching. A watching world takes notice whether or not we are one.  We are either demonstrating the reality of the gospel through our unity, or we are giving the world more armour for their skepticism and unbelief by our lack of unity (or outright division). No wonder the Lord Jesus told us that the distinguishing mark of His disciples would be that we love one another (John 13:35).

It is therefore, important to understand that our relationship with one other in the church also has an impact on our relationship with those outside of the church.  It even affects our ability to share the gospel effectively.

2.6.4    Fear

According to Josh Buice, evangelism is one of those subjects that can easily lend itself toward producing a guilt complex.[34] It is something that each and every one of us know we should do, because lives are at stake; yet we often struggle at making even the most meager attempts at it due to fear.

Writing of the sufferings of the Apostle Paul as detailed in the book of Acts, John Stott writes, “witness to Christ involves suffering for Christ. It is not an accident that the Greek word for witness came to be associated with martyrdom. ‘Suffering, then, is the badge of true discipleship.”[35] So we must be prepared for the possibility of suffering in some way if we are going to be faithful in testifying to the gospel of Jesus Christ. And that should not be all that surprising, as the message of the gospel itself centers on the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ on behalf of sinners.

But while we must be prepared for the possibility of suffering for the sake of the gospel, we should also (perhaps even more so) be prepared to see the risen & ascended Lord Jesus do marvelous things through the faithful proclamation of the gospel.

2.6.5    Self-righteousness

One of the most common obstacle to evangelism is Self-righteousness. Self-righteousness sometimes keeps us from sharing the gospel with those who need to hear it, and it can also keep those who need to hear it from listening to us. Paul’s words in a letter that he wrote to Timothy says:

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:15-17)

In other words, Paul considered himself to be the worst sinner of all.  And yet the Lord Jesus Christ saved him.  God gave him mercy in Jesus Christ.  And if God would save a sinner like Paul, is there anyone beyond the reach of God’s grace in the gospel? No wonder Paul was so eager to preach the gospel to all men (Romans 1:15-16).  Since the Lord saved him, Paul despaired of the salvation of no man.

Sometimes we fail to share the gospel because we think too highly of ourselves and therefore too lowly of others (or of God’s ability or willingness to save them). We forget that our salvation is nothing but the sheer love, mercy & grace of God that He lavished upon us in Christ. We forget that we are nothing more than sinners, saved by grace.

2.6.6    Lack of confidence

Another very important hindrance that many of us need to learn to overcome is simply a lack of confidence in the power of the gospel. In other words, we often have very low, at times, negative expectations in evangelism.  Most people think that nothing good will come of it (not that God will not be glorified rather that something bad will result): not just unbelief, but rejection, mocking, ridicule, etc.

According to Paul:

I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.  For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:14-17, ESV)

Paul tells us that not only was he “under obligation” (v.14) to preach the gospel, but he was “eager” (v.15) to do so as well. Most of us are probably able to identify with the former, but how many of us are ever truly “eager” to share the gospel? Paul tells us that he was eager to preach the gospel (not ashamed) because he knew that the gospel of Christ is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (v.16).

The gospel is not just powerful – it is the power of God!  In other words, God Himself works through the gospel for the salvation of sinners. God works through the gospel of His Son. So we have every reason to be eager to share the good news.  That is where we will see God at work!

2.7       The Impact of Evangelism/Soul Winning to Church Growth

For years, members of the church growth movement have asserted that higher levels of evangelistic activity will yield membership growth for church congregations.  Although a reasonable assumption, little research actually existed supporting that claim.  To help fill the gap, C. Kirk Hadaway of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries has written a study: Is Evangelistic Activity Related to Church Growth? “Evangelism may be the single most important thing church leaders can do if they want their church to grow,”[36] Hadaway concluded in the study.  Hadaway’s analysis suggested that the relationship between growth and evangelism is stronger than previously estimated. 

Earlier studies showed that evangelism boosted church growth, but not much, and not as much as other predictors, such as population growth in the larger community.  The first direct test of this theory, conducted in 1976 by the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., showed a “positive but weak” correlation between recruitment activity and church growth.[37]  

To probe more deeply into the relationship between evangelism and church growth, Hadaway studied the results of a survey of 990 metropolitan Southern Baptist churches.  The lengthy questionnaire asked pastors to rate their churches on “evangelism indicators” such as whether the church offered regular evangelism training, an evangelism campaign or a Sunday school outreach program, or whether the church involved of members in recruitment and visitation. This questionnaire was distributed to roughly equal sets of growing, plateaued and declining churches. Eliminating churches without pastors, and those surveys that were incomplete or incorrect, resulted in 543 responses in the final analysis.[38]

These ratings of “evangelistic activity” were then compared for each of the growth-related categories (growing, plateaued or declining).  This approach was used instead of a random sampling of churches, to avoid the errors that typically occur when comparing membership data supplied by churches. Nine key “evangelism indicators” exhibited a significant relationship to growth.  For example, one question asked whether the church had a “regular program for evangelism training.”  Among growing churches, 58% responded with a “yes,” among plateaued churches the percentages of “yes” responses was 34.9%; and finally, only 25.6% of declining churches responded positively.  Similarly, over 75% of growing churches had weekly (or more frequent) visitation programs; only 50.8% of plateaued churches and 43.7% of declining churches did so.

Interestingly, Hadaway noted that, while growing churches scored much higher on the evangelism/outreach scale, there wasn’t much difference between the scores of plateaued and declining churches.  “Apparently, evangelism explains growth, but is of little value in explaining decline,” he concluded.

The study probed further by asking, “Does this strong relationship hold even when controlling other variables?  Those other variables included the churches’ “social context” (population growth in the community, the proximity of other Southern Baptist churches, the buying power of the community, and the age and condition of housing in the area), congregational characteristics (such as the age distribution of members) and  “programmatic variables” (such as members’ preferences toward innovation or tradition). 

Many of these variables did prove to be important factors in the “growth” picture of congregations.  The age structure of the congregation, for example, was almost as important as evangelistic activity in predicting growth.  Churches with a large number of elderly members, for example, are less likely to grow than churches with a high number of young families.  Similar, churches tend to grow in areas where new housing is going up. However, Hadaway concluded, “The evangelism scale is the most important predictor of church growth.” 

Many of the factors that cause churches to grow – or to decline – are not within the realm of a congregation’s control.  A church would find it difficult, for example, to change the age structure of its congregation, or to affect the population growth rate of its larger communities.  But churches do have a choice about evangelism, and it does make a difference.

Hadaway concluded: “Evangelism appears to be the only programmatic activity that retains a meaningful relationship with church growth when statistical controls are in effect.”  In other words, if a church wants to grow, evangelism is the most important thing that church leaders can do.

2.8       Summary

In this chapter, the researcher had been able to review related literature on the hindrances to evangelism and soul winning. The chapter started with the concept of evangelism and the great commission. It continued with discussions on evangelism and soul winning and benefits of evangelism and soul winning. The chapter further discusses the hindrances to evangelism and soul winning, and the impact of evangelism/soul winning to church growth.

 

ENDNOTES

 

CHAPTER THREE

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

3.0       Introduction

This chapter discusses the procedures used by the researcher to analyze the results of the survey. It is organized under the following headings: The area of study, population of study, sampling and sampling techniques, and instrument for data collection, method of data collection and method of data analysis.

3.1       Research Design

The research design used in this research is the survey method. The researcher carried out the study by involving members of Assemblies of God, Nigeria in Ali-Udo District of Abia State.

3.2       Area of Study

In this research, the area of study was Ali-Udo District, Abia State of Nigeria. The study was carried out within Assemblies of God church Ali-Udo within Ohafia metropolis. The headquarters is located in Abiriba in Abia State of Nigeria.

3.3       Population of Study

Research population was the whole object for which a sample was drawn. The population in this case referred to the members and ministers of the sections of AG in Ali-Udo District, Abia State. From data obtained from the Ali-Udo District Headquarters, the population of study consists of 19 sections in Ali-Udo District of Assemblies of God. Ali-Udo District has 196 churches with sixteen thousand, six hundred and twenty two (16622) adherents.

3.4       Sample and Sampling Techniques

To effectively draw samples for the study, the student used appropriate sampling technique suitable for drawing such samples.

The sample of this study comprises of 10 churches selected randomly from Ali-Udo District. 300 number of people (both clergy and laity) were used.

Sampling technique was the method used in drawing sample from population which gives a sample size of the study. Because the sections are distinct in their administration and structure, the student used the stratified random sampling technique. This technique allows the population of the study to be divided into sections which formed the strata and simple random sampling was used to select samples from each stratum. In simple random sampling technique, every member of the entire sampling population has equal chance of being selected at random.

3.5       Data Collection

The instrument used for data collection was the questionnaire. The questionnaire was comprised of a set of simple questions constructed to elicit information from the respondent within the area of study. Questionnaires were sent to the randomly selected respondents of the four sections of AG in Ali-Udo District and the information received was used for the evaluation. The method used to collect the research data was the survey method. Here questionnaires were distributed to the respondents and their responses were collected. The student used face to face method to distribute and retrieve the questionnaires to/from the respondents respectively.

3.6       Administration of Instruments

The modified and simplified questionnaires were distributed to selected samples within the sections. A total of 315 questionnaires were distributed at random to ten (10) selected churches in Ali-Udo District.

The student made use of himself for the purpose of distribution and collection of the research questionnaires. The questionnaires were lodged to the selected respondents and a period of 30 days allowed for the respondents to fill the questionnaires. After 30 days, the student went back and retrieved the lodged questionnaires. The administration of the instrument and collection took a period of about 40 days.

3.7 Method of Data Analysis

The data captured for this study was analyzed, using descriptive statistical methods. The descriptive analysis involves the use of percentages, and tabulations. The percentage analysis is computed using the formula:

 Where f = frequency of a particular response,

N = total response

CHAPTER FOUR

DATA ANALYSIS AND PRESENTATION OF RESULTS

4.1       Introduction

This chapter presented and described the findings of the study following the order of the research questions formulated for the study. The result obtained from analyzing data of this study is presented in this chapter.

4.2       Data Presentation

Research Question one

How is evangelism important in soul winning?

Table 4.1: Importance of Evangelism and Soul Winning

StatementA%SA%D%SD%Total %
Prayer is one of the effective way to evangelize and win souls: through evangelism & soul winning, our prayer life is sharpened40.060.00.00.0100
The habit of evangelization enhances the refilling of God’s word in us which equip us to win souls40.040.020.00.0100
Through evangelism, one testifies of the works of God in his life which can enhance soul winning30.050.010.00.0100
Soul-winning is the chief business of the Christian minister; it should be the main pursuit of every true believer20.050.010.020.0100
Christians are called to be witnesses of their faith to a watching world50.050.00.00.0100

Table 4.1 shows the responses of the 300 respondents on the importance of evangelism in soul winning. From the table, five statements were raised according to which respondents responded: Agreed, Strongly Agreed, Disagreed, and Strongly Disagreed.

In the first statement: “Prayer is one of the effective way to evangelize and win souls: through evangelism & soul winning, our prayer life is sharpened”, 40% and 60% of the respondents agreed and strongly agreed respectively to the statement. This gives a total of 100% in acceptance to this statement, none of the respondents disagreed to this statement. Hence, we conclude that all of the respondents totally agreed that “Prayer is one of the effective way to evangelize and win souls.”

In the second statement: “The habit of evangelization enhances the refilling of God’s word in us which equip us to win souls”, 40% of the respondents agreed, 40% strongly agreed, and 20% disagreed with the statement. This shows that a total of 80% of the respondents are in total acceptance with the statement. Therefore we conclude that about 80% of the respondents were in agreement with the view that the habit of evangelization enhances the refilling of God’s word in us which equip us to win souls, while only 20% of the respondents disagreed with this statement.

The third statement states that “Through evangelism, one testifies of the works of God in his life which can enhance soul winning.” From the results of the responses, 30% agreed, 50% strongly agreed while only 10% of the respondents disagreed; the remaining 10% of the respondents did not respond to the statement. This result shows that up to 80% of the overall respondents accept that evangelism gives us an avenue to testify of the works of God in our lives which can enhance soul winning.

The fourth statement states that “Soul-winning is the chief business of the Christian minister; it should be the main pursuit of every true believer.” The results based on the questionnaire shows that 20% of the respondents agreed, 50% strongly agreed, 10% of the respondents disagreed and 20% strongly disagreed to the statement. The results of the respondents show clearly that 70% of the respondents are in agreement with this statement. Hence the major goal of Christian ministers and every true believer should be soul winning.

Finally, the responses to the fifth statement, “Christians are called to be witnesses of their faith to a watching world,” reflect the following responses: 50% of respondents agreed and 50% strongly agreed with the statement. Based on the above responses, it can be clearly seen that all the respondents accepts that Christians are called to be witnesses of their faith to a watching world.

Research Question Two

What are the benefits of evangelism in soul winning?

 

Table 4.2: Benefits of evangelism and soul winning

StatementA%SA%D%SD%Total %
Evangelism is the best cure for sadness and depression because it brings inexplicable joy50.030.010.010.0100
A soul winner got mansions waiting for him/her in heaven and crowns of glory30.050.010.010.0100
A soul winner cannot be wasted overnight by natural or unnatural powers, occurrences or mishaps cannot come to a life that is profitable to God in the evangelical field because he/she is divinely secure40.020.020.020.0100
Evangelism & Soul winning brings the Manifestations of spiritual gifts10.040.050.00.0100
Spreading the Gospel in truth and righteousness cements once place in the Heavenly admission list, the Book of Life.70.030.00.00.0100

Table 4.2 depicts the responses of the respondents on the benefits of evangelism and soul winning.

In the first statement: “Evangelism is the best cure for sadness and depression because it brings inexplicable joy”, 50% and 30% of the respondents agreed and strongly agreed respectively to the statement. This gives a total of 80% in acceptance to this statement. While 10% and 10% disagreed and strongly disagreed to this statement respectively. Hence, we can conclude that about 80% of the respondents accept that evangelism is the best cure for sadness and depression because it brings inexplicable joy.

In the second statement: “A soul winner got mansions waiting for him/her in heaven and crowns of glory”, 30% of the respondents agreed, 50% strongly agreed, and 10% disagreed and 10% strongly disagreed with the statement. This shows that a total of 80% of the respondents are in total acceptance of the statement. Therefore we conclude that about 80% of the respondents accept that soul winners have mansions waiting for them in heaven and crowns of glory.

The third statement states that “A soul winner cannot be wasted overnight by natural or unnatural powers, occurrences or mishaps cannot come to a life that is profitable to God in the evangelical field because he/she is divinely secure.” From the results of the responses, 40% agreed, 20% strongly agreed, 20% disagreed and 20% strongly disagreed with the statement. This result shows that only about 60% of the overall respondents accept that soul winners are divinely secured.

The fourth statement states that evangelism & Soul winning brings the manifestations of spiritual gifts. The results based on the questionnaire shows that 10% of the respondents agreed, 40% strongly agreed, and 50% disagreed with the statement. The results of the respondents show clearly that this statement is inconclusive. 50% of the respondents are in agreement with the statement and 50% of the respondents are in disagreement with the statement; hence, we cannot admit or dismiss that evangelism & soul winning brings the manifestations of spiritual gifts.

Finally, the responses to the fifth statement, “Spreading the Gospel in truth and righteousness cements once place in the Heavenly admission list, the Book of Life.,” reflect the following responses: 70% of respondents agreed and 30% strongly agreed with the statement. Based on the above responses, it can be clearly seen that all the respondents agreed that evangelism and soul winning cements once place in the Heavenly admission list, the Book of Life.

Research Question Three

What are the hindrances to evangelism and soul winning in Ali-Udo District?

Table 4.3: Hindrances to evangelism and soul winning

StatementA%SA%D%SD%Total %
Lack of confidence in the power of the gospel40.050.010.00.0100
Self-righteousness sometimes keeps us from sharing the gospel with those who need to hear it, and it can also keep those who need to hear it from listening to us60.040.00.00.0100
Fear is devastating and can be a hindrances to evangelism10.060.010.010.0100
Laziness and self-centeredness is a limiting factor to evangelism40.060.00.00.0100
Unity makes a huge difference in soul winning because the world is watching30.050.020.00.0100

Table 4.3 is used to show the responses obtained from the respondents on the hinderances to evangelism and soul winning in Ali-Udo District of Assemblies of God, Nigeria.

In the first statement: “Lack of confidence in the power of the gospel”, 90% of the overall respondents agreed to this statement in the ratio of 40% for those that agreed and 50% for those that strongly agreed. Only 10% of the respondents were in disagreement with this statement. This tells us that lack of confidence in the power of the gospel affects evangelism and soul winning.

In the second statement: “Self-righteousness sometimes keeps us from sharing the gospel with those who need to hear it, and it can also keep those who need to hear it from listening to us”, 60% of the respondents agreed while 40% strongly agreed with the statement. This shows that a total of 100% of the respondents are in total support of this statement. Therefore we conclude that self-righteousness on the part of the receiver and / or on the giver of significantly affects evangelism and soul winning.

The third statement states that “Fear is devastating and can be a hindrances to evangelism.” From the results of the responses, 10% agreed, 60% strongly agreed, 10% disagreed, and 10% strongly disagreed while 10% did not respond to the statement. This result shows that up to 70% of the overall respondents accept that fear is a hindering factor in evangelism and soul winning. Most Christians face the challenge to preach the gospel to non-believers as a result of fear, and this is devastating in populating the kingdom of God.

The fourth statement relates to Laziness and self-centeredness as a limiting factor to evangelism. The results based on the questionnaire shows that 40% of the respondents agreed and 60% strongly agreed that Christians are lazy to preach the gospel. The results of the respondents show clearly 100% support of the respondents to this statement.

Finally, the responses to the fifth statement, “Unity makes a huge difference in soul winning because the world is watching,” reflect the following: 30% of respondents agreed and 50% strongly agreed with the statement, while 20% disagreed with the statement. Based on the above responses, it can be clearly seen that 80% of the respondents agrees to the fact that unity makes a huge difference in soul winning because the world is watching. This implies that when there is no unity, the kingdom work cannot move forward. Jesus rightly identified this when He retorted that a kingdom divided among itself cannot stand.

In conclusion, based on the results of the respondents shown in table 4.3 above, the researcher concludes that there are numerous hinderances to evangelism and soul winning that should be addressed in Ali-Udo District.

Research Question Four

What is the impact of evangelism on the growth of the church?

Table 4.4: Evangelism and church growth

StatementA%SA%D%SD%Total %
There is a strong relationship between evangelism and church growth40.060.00.00.0100
If a church wants to grow, evangelism is the most important thing that church leaders can do60.030.00.010.0100
Higher levels of evangelistic activity will yield membership growth for church congregations50.030.010.010.0100
Regular evangelism program can revive a declining church40.020.040.00.0100
Evangelism is a tool of restructuring the age structure of a congregation50.040.00.010.0100

Table 4.4 is used to show the responses obtained from the respondents on the impact of evangelism to church growth. From the table, the following results were obtained.

In the first statement: “There is a strong relationship between evangelism and church growth”, 40% and 60% of the respondents agreed and strongly agreed respectively to the statement. This gives a total of 100% in acceptance to this statement. Hence, we can conclude that evangelism contributes significantly to the growth of the church. In the second statement: “If a church wants to grow, evangelism is the most important thing that church leaders can do”, 60% of the respondents agreed, 30% strongly agreed, and 10% strongly disagreed with the statement. This shows that a total of 90% of the respondents are in total support that church leaders should consider evangelism to boast growth.

The third statement states that “Higher levels of evangelistic activity will yield membership growth for church congregations.” From the results of the responses, 50% agreed, 30% strongly agreed, and 10% disagreed and 10% strongly disagreed with this statement. This result shows that up to 80% of the overall respondents accepted that higher levels of evangelistic activity will yield membership growth for church congregations.

The fourth statement says, “Regular evangelism program can revive a declining church.” The results based on the questionnaire shows that 40% of the respondents agreed, 20% strongly agreed, and 40% of respondents disagreed to the statement. The results of the respondents show clearly that 60% of the respondents are in agreement with the statement and 40% of the respondents were in disagreement with the statement; hence, we accept, based on the responses that regular evangelism program can revive a declining church.

Finally, the responses to the fifth statement, “Evangelism is a tool of restructuring the age structure of a congregation,” reflect the following: 50% of respondents agreed, 40% strongly agreed, 0% disagreed and 10% strongly disagreed with the statement. Based on the above responses, it can be clearly seen that 90% of the overall respondents accept that evangelism can be used to restructure the age structure of a congregation.

In conclusion, based on the results of the respondents shown in table 4.4 above, the researcher concludes that, evangelism contributes adequately to the growth churches.

 

CHAPTER FIVE

SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

This chapter discusses the results of the study according to the research questions, and the conclusion of the study. Recommendations are made and limitations to the study discussed.

5.1       Summary of Findings

The results of the responses to research question one reveal the importance of evangelism and soul winning as agreed by the respondents. According to the results, about 80% of the respondents agreed with the following importance of evangelism and soul winning: it sharpens our prayer life; it refills God’s word in us which equip us to win souls; it gives us the opportunity to testify of Gods works in our life and helps win souls for Christ; it should be the main pursuit of every Christian minister and believer; and it gives Christians opportunity to win the world for Christ, thereby depopulating the kingdom of darkness.

The research question two tells us that majority of the respondents recognized the benefits of evangelism and soul winning. From the results obtained, the following benefits of the evangelism were identified:

  1. It is the best cure for sadness and depression
  2. It guarantees mansions and crowns of glory for every Christian that engages in them
  3. It divinely secures every Christian believer from natural and unnatural powers, occurrences and mishaps
  4. Finally, Spreading the Gospel in truth and righteousness cements once place in the Heavenly admission list, the Book of Life.

In table 4.3, the researcher analyzed the hindrances to evangelism and soul winning. From the results of the findings, it was observed that the following hindrances are peculiar to evangelism and soul winning in Ali-Udo District.

  1. Lack of confidence in the power of the gospel
  2. Self-righteousness on the part of the Christian and the unbeliever that need to be evangelized. Sometimes it keeps us from sharing the gospel with those who need to hear it, and it can also keep those who need to hear it from listening to us
  3. Fear: a devastating factor that can completely hinder evangelism
  4. Laziness and self-centeredness: a limiting factor to evangelism
  5. Finally, lack of unity among Christians and believers.

Furthermore, research question 4 surveyed the responses of the respondents on the impact of evangelism on church growth. From the results of the survey it was observed that evangelism has a significant relationship with the growth of churches; evangelism is the most important thing church leaders can do to attract growth. Also, regular evangelism program can revive a declining church; evangelism is a tool of restructuring the age structure of a congregation. Finally, higher levels of evangelistic activity will yield membership growth for church congregations.

5.2       Conclusion

The church exists for the pleasure of God and for His glory. The church does not exist for the pleasure and comfort of its members and attenders. The gospel is not to be given just to followers of Christ, but through them to each God-created person in the world in the various sub-cultures and tribes in which they live. The church 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, this is the essence of evangelism. Through evangelism and soul winning, new churches are planted which will continue the process of refining the new believers and make them fit for the kingdom of God and the kingdom of God is populated while kingdom of darkness remains depopulated.

The hope for all of God’s people, united in justice and truth under Jesus Christ, is a Resurrection vision that sustains people around the world. This Christian message of hope is not finished, as God’s reign presses toward fulfillment. Rather, it is the deeper meaning that lies at the heart of evangelism and soul winning activities. The call to fulfill the great commission was not beckoned to the disciples of Jesus Christ alone. As many that have believed are called to partake in the Lord’s command; by so doing, each and every one of us will contribute to actualizing the heartbeat of God the father and create a better world for our children unborn.

At the forefront of fulfilling this commission is evangelism and soul winning activities which entails carrying the believers along through various means to reconcile the world with God. According to the study, evangelism plays an important role in building a sustainable church which growth over time is guaranteed. Through effective evangelism, it is understood that Christians would proclaim Christ; emphasize on spiritual discipline by always considering spiritual growth as an ongoing and necessary process in the life of Christians and preaching the good news to sinners, making converts, and baptizing them, among others. These processes are noted to add souls to the church and enhance its growth over time.

However, the researcher observed that there are various hindrances that face evangelism and soul winning, some of the observed hindrances include: Lack of confidence in the power of the gospel, Self-righteousness, Fear, Laziness and self-centeredness and lack of unity.

5.3       Recommendations

Based on the findings of the study, the following recommendations are made:

  1. Pastors, ministers and believers should be encouraged by church administrators to lead the way in the charge of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ through evangelism and soul winning. They should be admonished and encouraged to understand that they have a greater role to play in depopulating hell and populating heaven for Christ.
  2. Christians of all ages should be educated and encouraged to partake at all times in the course of evangelism and soul winning. They should be educated to understand that evangelism and soul winning are not the sole responsibility of pastors and missionaries, but they can assist financially, morally or otherwise.
  3. Believers should cast out fear, self-righteousness and self-centeredness to ensure that they effectively carry out evangelism to unbelievers.
  4. The church should always form a united front in other to effectively win souls for Christ. A kingdom divided among itself will never stand, but a kingdom that is united will ever grow stronger each day.

5.4       Suggestions for Further Study

The following areas of study are suggested:

  1. A Study on the city-wide crusade and evangelism in an age of globalization
  2. A study on the role of pastors and spiritual leaders in the evangelism and soul winning
  3. The role of personal evangelism and its impact in fulfilling the great commission in the 21st century
  4. A comparative study of the impact of personal evangelism and crusade in reaching the unreached
  5. Critical evaluation of the role of Pentecostalism in effective evangelization of the 21st century

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Hadaway, Kirk C. Chapter 8: Is Evangelistic Activity Related to Church Growth? Church Growth and Decline Articles: Hartford Institute for Religion Research, 2006, 169-187.

Hadaway, Kirk C. Chapter 8: Is Evangelistic Activity Related to Church Growth? Church Growth and Decline Articles: Hartford Institute for Religion Research, 2006.

Harrington, Kim. Hindrances to World Evangelism. Masterbuilder.org, Masterbuilder Ministries, 1998.

Henry, Matthew. “Matt.-John” The Comprehensive Commentary, William Jenks, Ed. Boston: Shattuck & Co. 1834.

Hess, Larry G. “Church Growth through Evangelism and Spiritual Renewal.” Faith Library.

Kennedy, James D. “Overcoming Evangelism Barriers.” Springfield, MO: Assemblies of God. Enrichment Journal. 2016.

Larry, Moyer. “How to book on Personal evangelism.” In got questions.org. How can I become more motivated for soul winning? 2016.

Malphurs, Aubrey. Planting Growing Churches for the 21st Century. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992.

Phillips, Richard. Jesus the Evangelist.  Schreiberspace: Ligonier Ministries, March 20, 2013.

Rainer, Thom S. Seven Reasons Why Evangelism Should Be A Priority Of Your Church. Thomrainer.com: Lifeway Christian Resources, October 10, 2012.

Rice, John R. The Evangelist and His Work. Murfreesboro, TN: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1968.

Rice, John R. The Golden Path to Successful Personal Soul Winning. Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1961.

Soughtout, E. Matthew. Biblical Approaches to Effective Evangelism and Soul Winning. Reachout.com.ng, April 14, 2015.

Spurgeon, C.H. What Is It to Win a Soul? (Believers web.org: Bible Bulletin board, January 4, 2003

Stewarts, David. Soul Winning. Retrieved on 16th May 2016 from www.jesus-is-savior.com

Stott, John. The Message of Acts. Screiberspace: Bonhoeffer, October 11, 2012.

Toby Druin, “Roy Fish: Evangelist’s Call Is Legitimate,” Baptist Standard, January 23, 1991.

Tony, Miano. “What is Evangelism?” Nampa carm.org: Christian Apologetic & Research Ministry, 2014.

Vine, W.E. Amplified Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Iowa Falls, IA: World, 2001.

Wagner, C. Peter Church Planting for a Greater Harvest. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1990.

Wagner, C. Peter. The Growing Church. Pasadena, CA: Fuller Evangelistic Association, 1976, Cassette #3, Side 1.

Wayne, Jackson, The Great Commission According to Matthew. Christian Courier, 2009.

Wayne, Jackson. The Book of Philippians. Abilene, TX: Quality, 2007.

William, Carey in Jay Riley Case, An Unpredictable Gospel: American Evangelicals and World Christianity, 1812-1920. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Winter, Ralph. U.S. Center for World Missions, in Kim Harrington. Hindrances to World Evangelism. Masterbuilder.org, 1998.

Wright, Christopher. The Mission of God. IVP Academic. 2006.

APPENDIX

SECTION A

Department of Missions

Assemblies of God Divinity School

of Nigeria, Old Umuahia

Dear Respondent,

This questionnaire was prepared for the project writing entitled, “Hinderances to Evangelism & Soul winning in Ali-Udo District” and is not purposed for the collection of any other information. The content of this questionnaire will not be used for any other purpose. Please read the following questions and make sure to mark on only one of A (Agreed), SD (Strongly Agreed), D (Disagreed) or SD (Strongly Disagreed) against each statement following the questions.

Thank you.

Gideon I. Okoronkwo

 

Personal Data

  1. Name ____________________________Marital Status_______________
  2. Sex _______________ Age____________ Years in Church____________
  3. Status______________________________________________

 

 

SECTION B

Questionnaire Section

  1. How is evangelism important in soul winning?
S/NStatementASADSD
1Prayer is one of the effective way to evangelize and win souls: through evangelism & soul winning, our prayer life is sharpened
2The habit of evangelization enhances the refilling of God’s word in us which equip us to win souls
3Through evangelism, one testifies of the works of God in his life which can enhance soul winning
4Soul-winning is the chief business of the Christian minister; it should be the main pursuit of every true believer
5Christians are called to be witnesses of their faith to a watching world
  1. What are the benefits of evangelism in soul winning?
S/NStatementASADSD
1Evangelism is the best cure for sadness and depression because it brings inexplicable joy
2A soul winner got mansions waiting for him/her in heaven and crowns of glory
3A soul winner cannot be wasted overnight by natural or unnatural powers, occurrences or mishaps cannot come to a life that is profitable to God in the evangelical field because he/she is divinely secure
4Evangelism & Soul winning brings the Manifestations of spiritual gifts
5Spreading the Gospel in truth and righteousness cements once place in the Heavenly admission list, the Book of Life.
  1. What are the hindrances to evangelism and soul winning in Ali-Udo District?
S/NStatementASADSD
1Lack of confidence in the power of the gospel
2Self-righteousness sometimes keeps us from sharing the gospel with those who need to hear it, and it can also keep those who need to hear it from listening to us
3Fear is devastating and can be a hindrances to evangelism
4Laziness and self-centeredness is a limiting factor to evangelism
5Unity makes a huge difference in soul winning because the world is watching
  1. What is the impact of evangelism on the growth of the church?
S/NStatementASADSD
1There is a strong relationship between evangelism and church growth
2If a church wants to grow, evangelism is the most important thing that church leaders can do
3Higher levels of evangelistic activity will yield membership growth for church congregations
4Regular evangelism program can revive a declining church
5Evangelism is a tool of restructuring the age structure of a congregation

[1] John R. Rice. The Evangelist and His Work (Murfreesboro, TN: Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1968), 11.

[2] James D. Kennedy. “Overcoming Evangelism Barriers.” Springfield, MO: Assemblies of God. Enrichment Journal. 2016.

[3] C. Peter Wagner, Church Planting for a Greater Harvest (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1990), 11.

[4] David Stewarts. Soul Winning. Retrieved on 16th May 2016 from www.jesus-is-savior.com

[5] Pastor Greenfield. Biblical Evangelism, Part 2: The Meaning of Evangelism. Orwell Bible Church. September 12, 2007. 3.

[6] Toby Druin, “Roy Fish: Evangelist’s Call Is Legitimate,” Baptist Standard, January 23, 1991: 12-13.

[7] Bill Bright, in Baptist Press article By Mark Kelly. Bright spoke at the Southern Baptist Convention. Jun 13, 2002.

[8] Aubrey Malphurs, Planting Growing Churches for the 21st Century (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992), 193.

[9] Tony Miano. “What is Evangelism?” (Nampa carm.org: Christian Apologetic & Research Ministry, 2014). 1-2.

[10] Collins English Dictionary. Collins. 2006.

[11] William Carey in Jay Riley Case, An Unpredictable Gospel: American Evangelicals and World Christianity, 1812-1920. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).

[12] Christopher Wright. The Mission of God. IVP Academic. 2006, 2-3.

[13] Wayne Jackson, The Great Commission According to Matthew. (Christian Courier, 2009), 1.

[14] Arndt William F. and Gingrich, F. Wilbur, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2007), 52.

[15] Carson D.A.  “Matthew,” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Frank Gaebelein, Ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan 2004), 594.

[16] Wayne Jackson. The Book of Philippians (Abilene, TX: Quality, 2007), 45-48.

[17] Attwater Donald, A Catholic Dictionary (New York: Macmillan, 1961), 388.

[18] Friberg Barbara and Timothy. Analytical Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2001), 809, 810.

[19] Vine W.E. Amplified Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Iowa Falls, IA: World, 2001), 221.

[20] Balz, Horst and Schneider, Gerhard (1981), Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001), Vol. 2. 372.

[21] Philip Dodderidge. “Family Expositor.” In Shepherd, J.W. Handbook on Baptism (Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1990), 262.

[22] Henry Matthew. “Matt.-John” The Comprehensive Commentary, William Jenks, Ed. (Boston: Shattuck & Co. 1834), 307.

[23] Larry Moyer. “How to book on Personal evangelism.” In got questions.org. (How can I become more motivated for soul winning?), 2016.

[24] C.H. Spurgeon. What Is It to Win a Soul? (Believers web.org: Bible Bulletin board, January 4, 2003), 1 – 5.

[25] Soughtout E. Matthew. Biblical Approaches to Effective Evangelism and Soul Winning. (Reachout.com.ng, April 14, 2015). 1-7.

[26] Thom S. Rainer. Seven Reasons Why Evangelism Should Be A Priority Of Your Church. (Thomrainer.com: Lifeway Christian Resources, October 10, 2012), 1 – 2.

[27] C. L. Cagan Deacon. The Blessings of the Soul Winner. (The Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles: Lord’s Day Morning, January 23, 2011). 5-6.

[28] John R. Rice. The Golden Path to Successful Personal Soul Winning. (Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1961), 275.

[29] Kim Harrington. Hindrances to World Evangelism. (Masterbuilder.org, Masterbuilder Ministries, 1998), 1 – 3.

[30] Ralph Winter. U.S. Center for World Missions, in Kim Harrington. Hindrances to World Evangelism. (Masterbuilder.org, 1998), 2.

[31] Larry G. Hess. “Church Growth through Evangelism and Spiritual Renewal.” Faith Library.

[32] Thabiti M. Anyabwile. Finding Faithful Elders And Deacons. (Schreiberspace, January 18, 2014), 72.

[33] Richard Phillips. Jesus the Evangelist.  (Schreiberspace: Ligonier Ministries, March 20, 2013 ), 111.

[34] Josh Buice. The True Hindrance to Evangelism. (DBG, May 21, 2008).

[35] John Stott. The Message of Acts. (Screiberspace: Bonhoeffer, October 11, 2012), 179.

[36] Kirk C. Hadaway. Chapter 8: Is Evangelistic Activity Related to Church Growth? (Church Growth and Decline

Articles: Hartford Institute for Religion Research, 2006), 169-187.

[37] C. Peter Wagner, The Growing Church. (Pasadena, CA.: Fuller Evangelistic Association, 1976), Cassette #3, Side 1.

[38] Kirk C. Hadaway. Chapter 8: Is Evangelistic Activity Related to Church Growth? (Church Growth and Decline

Articles: Hartford Institute for Religion Research, 2006), 169-187.