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The Best Fuel for Your Ministry Fire

Losing heart? Try winning souls.
Picture of Greg Stier
Greg Stier

Soulwinning and soul care go together like peanut butter and chocolate.

I’m convinced that few things can save ministry leaders from debilitating discouragement like helping souls turn from “dark to light, and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18).

If you’re a youth leader and are continuously seeing a steady stream of teenagers getting saved and making disciples of their friends, it gives you wind in your sails and, in the words of Adam Sandler in The Waterboy, “tackling fuel” for your trials.

The same is true of pastors, parachurch leaders, and other ministry leaders.

I’ve experienced this truth firsthand since I was a kid. I’d been reached by and raised in a fundamentalist church, in which soulwinning was all the rage.

Every Friday night, 50 to 100 teenagers from the church would gather to pray, get trained in evangelism, and then disperse to shopping malls across the Denver area for some good, old-fashioned soulwinning. Why shopping malls? Because that’s where teenagers in the ’80s hung out on Friday nights.

During our not-so-subtly named “Friday Night Soulwinning” experiences, we shared Jesus with teenagers as they hung out by the arcade or walked up and down the mall. We’d just approach them and start up conversations. We led some to Jesus, planted Gospel seeds in many, and endured mocking and rejection from others.

Afterward, we’d gather back together to share stories and pray for those we’d witnessed to during the outreach. And, of course, we ate snacks!

But soulwinning was not just for Friday nights. As a 12-year-old, I had shared the Gospel with all of my neighborhood friends, led most of them to Christ, and discipled them in a neighborhood Bible study.

I wasn’t the exceptional teen. Many of my Christian friends had done similar things.

For us, soulwinning was our cause, our purpose, and our mission in life. We were reminded again and again by our hillbilly pastor (who, for some reason, was nicknamed “Yankee”) of Proverbs 11:30: “…he that winneth souls is wise.”

Winning lost souls also won over our souls. It gave us tackling fuel. In spite of the legalism we were steeped in, seeing lost souls get saved and saved souls get discipled gave us so much wind in our sails that we boated right over any waves of doubt that we might have faced. I learned early on how invigorating it is to see people put their trust in Christ.

Soulwinning isn’t the only key to staying strong in ministry, of course. We must also learn to rest, recharge, and renew. We must take our Sabbaths seriously and keep our bodies, souls, and minds in biblical balance.

But, soulwinning is an overlooked element of soul care.

What kept the apostle Paul going in the midst of his relentless trials? The glory of God and the salvation of souls!

I do all this for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

1 Corinthians 9:23-27

What was his tackling fuel? When lost souls got saved!

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when He comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

1 Thessalonians 2:19-20

If you need a fresh spark, make your ministry a Gospel Advancing one and pour your energy into making disciples who in turn make disciples. When you start winning souls, your soul will soar!

Unlikely Fighter

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The story of how a fatherless street kid overcame violence, chaos, and confusion to become a radical Christ follower.

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