I use the term "growth" to refer to converting souls or growing the population of heaven. Note some key scriptural concepts that are essential to understand.
1. The Power Of Morality: -- Some believe that the world is so sinful that you cannot convert anyone but a very rare individual. Yet the more sinful the world is, the greater the power of morality! Consider the teaching of Matt. 5:16 and 1 Pet. 2:12; 3:16 where your morality eventually impacts those around you, even those who have mocked and defamed you. This does not teach "morality alone," as you have to do more than merely set an example. People generally will not become a Christian just because they see you refrain from certain behavior. Yet setting the table for conversions can happen when we find the few prospects that are hidden around us -- and who may be watching our actions.
The current power and correctness of these Scriptures is shown by research indicating 95% of those converted were first impressed by the good life of a moral Christian they observed. Only about 5% of our converts are "walk-ins" or "seekers." Most growth comes from the people around us who know us (and watch us!).
2. The Importance Of Saying, "Come.": -- Our biggest failing is that we do not make enough "good noise." Multiple invitations are necessary to find the 1 out of 100 of our associates that is a prospect and to find them during the brief periods when they are looking. This is commanded in the closing words of John to the people in the 3rd largest city of the New Testament world -- Rev. 22:17. This is one very critical element that is necessary to go hand in hand with our morality. Mass media words will not do much. It must be a personal word and personal work that is done well.
We have many great things to talk about but inviting others is a skill that requires practice. What could you say today about prayer, forgiveness, Bible study, Bible preaching or the benefits of morality? Whatever you say will have to be said wisely because most Americans are urbanized and usually skeptical. Jno. 1:35ff and Jno. 4 picture some of the concepts of "urban touches" necessary today.
3. Understanding "Come And See.": -- When John and Andrew (Jno. 1:38,39) were cautiously trying to observe Jesus after John the Baptizer had recommended Him, Jesus read their caution and met them unobtrusively at their limited level of exposed interest with the simple invitation of "Come and see." It allowed them to withhold their commitment until they were able to check Him out, that is, to "see" for themselves. We must understand modern urban skepticism and give one who "seeks" a chance to "see" for himself.
This means that we must have occasions where friends are invited to visit us for spiritual values that they feel they need. It means we must be patient with them and give them time to observe us without pushing too aggressively. This is a period of "moral certification" where, because they are aware of religious frauds, they want to "watch" us and be sure that we are genuine. That moral certification may take time but we must use that time to increase our contact with them. Many people in the Bible belt have to visit up to twenty times before they will agree to a personal study. (On the East and West coasts, some visitors will agree to a study much quicker because they do not personally know as many religious hypocrites).
4. Seeking God's Help Through Prayer: -- It is foolish and self-centered to enter this important process without thoroughly involving our Father who eagerly observes our effort (Col. 4:2-6).
5. The Place Of Wisdom Operating Within The Limits Of Truth: -- One of the most overlooked commandments is that we are to "walk in wisdom towards them that are without" (Col. 4:5). The word "wisdom" does not approve of carnal motivations or unauthorized activities in our work or worship. Those are never wise. There are, however, people to convert if we are willing to pay the price of wise, scriptural effort. Unfortunately, some workers do not seek wisdom and their foolish actions block instead of encourage. When they could wisely reach and teach souls, they try an unproductive approach that wastes time and energy because they have quickly grabbed either an untested or an out-of-date plan.
Conversions Can And Do Occur Today!:-- There are congregations that are getting a good flow of visitors today. Some of these congregations have learned how to track and cultivate "lookers" and help them grow to become genuine prospects. Ten to twenty adult baptisms are happening in local works. The joy of salvation is there for your congregation, for lost souls and...for you!
By Harold Comer in Biblical Insights, Vol. 6, No. 6, June 2006.
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