Secret to Building a Soul-Winning Church

by Charles T. Crabtree, Pastor and soul-winner.

Among my friends in Springfield is a rather wealthy businessman who claims to have visited Bass Pro Shops only once or twice because friends wanted to see it. He is not the least bit interested in fishing, so the new equipment he could buy stays on the store’s shelves. The sleek new bass boat he could purchase stays on the showroom floor. And the fish he could catch in nearby lakes continue to swim unmolested.


Another friend who also lives in Springfield is not nearly as well off as my other friend, but no fish is safe anywhere in the region. He is a dedicated fisherman who does not let the lack of new equipment stop him from catching fish. He goes to Bass Pro Shops on a regular basis to buy what he really needs and to drool over what he cannot afford.

Both of my friends live in proximity to a major supplier of fishing equipment and wonderful lakes full of fish. Both could be effective fishermen, but only one chooses to catch fish. Therein lies the secret to a soul-winning church.

It was not by coincidence Jesus began to build His Church initially by choosing a number of disciples out of the fishing industry. His call to these men included a promise which interested them: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” Matthew 4:19. He was saying to them, “Your motivation and skills in fishing are the dynamics I am looking for in a new kind of fishing industry.”

Every believer should follow the Master and become a soul winner. Since the Church consists of believers who are called to be witnesses, it is logical to expect every church to be a soul-winning church. Sadly, this is not the case. Far too many believers, including clergy and laity, are apathetic to the opportunity for soul winning. If Jesus promised to make His followers fishers of men, it raises a question whether those who choose not to win souls are closely following the Master.


The soul-winning church begins with the want to before it can move to the how to. My friend who does not fish could be scolded over and over for not fishing, or he could be instructed against his will in how to fish and what equipment he needs for fishing; but it would do no good. The want to has to be born in his heart. Fishing has to become a desire. It must become a significant factor in his life.

How can I possibly make my disinterested friend become a fisherman? How can I motivate believers to become soul winners? How can leaders create a soul-winning church when there is no passion to reach the lost?

It all begins with the birth or renewal of desire. Somehow, soul winning must be seen as a joy, not a drudgery; a passion, not a duty; a thrill, not a downer.


We would do well to remember that the joy of the Lord is our strength. This principle is at the heart of soul-winning motivation.

When Jesus said, “I will make you fishers of men,” He was offering His followers a better way of life. Before Jesus came, they had been satisfied to catch a certain kind of fish. Their lives revolved around the fishing business so they could exist. Jesus came to them with a new basis for living so others could live.

No pastor or spiritual leader will ever motivate believers to become soul winners by making them feel guilty, pressured, or coerced. The only way believers will become soul winners is if they can experience the joy and fulfillment of leading someone to Christ.

Believers will only be motivated to become soul winners by soul winners. My disinterested friend will never get into fishing by himself. He is only going to get interested when somebody he cares for begins to testify about the thrill and satisfaction of catching fish. He will never head for the lake with fishing tackle if simply told he should by someone who does not fish. He will not get the urge to buy a boat if he hears horror stories about fishing—no nibbles for 8 hours, the one that got away, the boat that went aground, and everyone got motion sickness.

The main reasons we do not have enough soul winners are:

  1. We do not have enough soul-winning pastors and leaders. If soul winning is not a passion and joy in the life of leadership, it will certainly have no place in the lives of those who follow. People are not interested in theoretical truth.
  2. We drive people by guilt rather than leading them by an excited and effective role model. A lot of people are turned off by preachers and teachers who shout mandates, but leave out the promises.
  3. Soul winners talk too much of their failures and have no record of effectiveness. You can just imagine how motivated new believers will become when they hear about doors being slammed, testimonies being refused, and statistics showing how few who pray the sinner’s prayer really become true believers. It reminds me of the proverbial ineffective broom salesman who knocked on the door with the question: “You don’t want to buy a broom, do you?”


The soul-winning church begins with an excited, influential soul winner. No person in the church is more influential, than the pastor. Pastors can have soul-winning churches if they are soul winners themselves—in the pulpit and outside the pulpit.

Believers are weary of being told what to do. They want to be shown what to do. They must be shown how to be effective witnesses and soul winners in the marketplace. A revival of soul winning in the church will take place when spiritual leaders become fishers of men outside the pulpit and then share the joy and fulfillment of these new experiences from the pulpit.

The most effective motivation in creating soul winners is not preaching about soul winning but telling about it. I saw this over and over in my own ministry. When I was pastoring, I would often preach about soul winning, but I was most effective when I could tell the congregation about a soul I had led to the Lord that week. What a joy I felt when people I was baptizing turned to me and thanked me for leading them to Christ at their workplace or in their home. In those moments, my congregation was able to relate to me as a witness of Christ as well as a pastor. As an under-shepherd, I was able to say to them with authority, “Follow me as I follow the Lord, and I will help you become fishers of men.”


  1. The soul-winning church has soul-winning leaders. They create a hunger in others to become effective witnesses.
  2. The soul-winning church makes room for those who win souls to share their joy and testimony with the congregation. Pastors would do well to have a witness box or a soul-winning window—time set-aside in the service—to give opportunity for others to share the joy of fishing for men.
  3. A soul-winning pastor will give opportunity for souls to come to Christ service after service. Altar calls are a priority in a Pentecostal church. If no one comes, it is still a victory because the opening of the altars reminds people why the church exists. Of course, when someone responds, the joy on earth becomes the joy of heaven.
  4. The soul-winning church has effective altar workers. The training of altar workers creates soul winners. If people learn how to lead people to a saving knowledge of Christ at an altar, they will be able to do the same in a car, in a cafeteria, and in the corner of an office.

Some time ago, I was preaching in a soul-winning church that had a wonderful choir. I learned that a person wanting to join the choir had to attend one musical tryout and three training sessions for altar ministry before they could take their place in the choir. When I gave the altar call, choir members streamed out of the choir loft to meet those coming to Christ. It is no wonder this particular church is flourishing.


used by permission


1,338,508 – Why Crusade Evangelism?

Great Light 

The people which sat in darkness saw a great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death, light sprung up.”
Billy Graham, for many decades, has been in the top ten for “most Admired People” in America. It is estimated that he has preached to over 2.2 billion people in his life’s ministry as a crusade evangelist.

            In 1992, in the city of Moscow, Russia, he drew large crowds and 1/4th of his attendee’s came forward for Christ, but before that, during the cold war he traveled through the U.S.S.R. ministering in several large cities. One of these stops was in Tallinn, Estonia where he was told, by the KGB there, not to give an alter call. “Fine, I can do that” he said and he ministered to the thousands of people who packed the centuries old “Olevista” church, the only church allowed to be open in Tallinn at the time. At the end of his message, he invited those who wanted to receive Christ Jesus as Lord, to simply stand. My point in all this is to say that 20 years after being told he may never return to Estonia, the people weep as they remember the impact he had on their country. Over a thousand received Christ that day, from all over Estonia, and they mark that as the start of a great awakening for their country.


664,024 added 1,157, 11/11/15

I love seeing Vision 2020 win over a thousand in a week! For that matter, it has thrilled my soul to see, week after week, over 100 souls being recorded. But, to reach our Vision 2020 goal, we need to be reaching 129,000 souls a week. Which would mean either winning 12,900 souls per dollar,… or having $96,150. per week more to spend on crusades and other effective soul-winning ministries.
Week after week, as I make these reports, I am seeking God about more money for the Vision. I have the most anointed and capable group of ministers that I know and/or worked with, who could be reaching two or three times more people if they had the finances to “GO”. (Romans 10:15) We have a plan in place for sending out funds when the first 1 and 2 million dollars come in. So I pray,… “Lord, Vision 2020 is Your vision,… You will bring it in, and we will work to be ready when it comes.” “Money!, come now! In Jesus Name!”
Agree with me that partners would be added to the vision and supernatural financial gifts will come in.
664,024 added 1,157
1- WOL South, Counseling Center
60- Pastor Dhas, outreaches in India
329- Kenya with Bishop James

689- Nairobi, Kenya with Bishop James
78- new church plant, with Bishop James

See updates about Nepal on John Smithwick’s FB page!

Till HE Comes! – SF

497,596 since January 2006

Greetings! It has been awhile. And well, after a conference, selling our house, a trip to Florida to see relatives and a very quick holiday, I am finally posting, Not that the love of the Lord wasn’t being shared, for sure!! Here are a a few wonderful testimonies to prove it!
2- Visiion Kids
Jesse – led by Nanette 
58,000 Global Media Outreach
 2- Carmen Avilla & Ron Carter-Ron and Deb Luce, WOL Church on the Streets  (here is their extended testimony)

We went downtown to pass out new address flyers for Sat. night service and we were standing there in the dark, cold and wind and loving it ,… really! As we were passing out those flyers and a man ran up to us and said, “I want God!”.

Pam, our church member from down town was standing with me and i said do you want salvation and he said yes and i shared what salvation is and he accepted Jesus! That was Carmen Avilla.

About 10 mins. later i met and was talking to Ron Carter and he was interested in the street church. I said are you saved and he said no, but that he had a preacher and a church! I said “you need salvation, its time!”. He said he had had a little beer, and I said i don’t care”. He wasn’t drunk at all. He looked shocked at me! I said, “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us!” He had never heard that. I said are you ready and he said yes! I called Ron over too and he talked with him and then led him to Christ and the guy still wanted to talk more to us and wanted to remember our names, it was so cute.

Anyway, they were the most effortless salvations i have ever done! Thx, Deb

433,762 souls since January 2006

What was it like when you came to believe in Jesus? Do you remember when you asked Him into your heart? I was eight years old, goofing off in the back row for the first time ever, and my friend Bruce Deletre went forward and I was dumb struck! “He was goofing off too! Why is he going up front!” I thought as I watched him, amazed. Then the Holy Spirit nudged me, “you believe don’t you?”, He said. “I believe!” I said to myself. “But you haven’t done this” He said. “No I haven’t done this” I said to myself as I got up and  followed Bruce up the isle.

What a holy moment! Followed by years of wonderful Holy moments as I learn more of Him or remember all that He has done for me, or I embrace Jesus over and over.

HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, isn’t Jesus amazing!

I blogged yesterday, but after church today, filled with the sweetness of the word and precious fellowship, I wanted to take a moment to say that since I blogged last night, I heard of 7 more dear ones who came to Jesus.

6 children in Children’s church the past couple of weeks, and…

1 last Wednesday at GZ

Since I do not have a picture of either of these events, I included this picture of these dear children who accepted Jesus a couple of weeks ago in Kenya. (Do you remember when?)Image