"How many people have you brought to Christ?"

January 31, 2013

At a recent clergy gathering, one of the other preachers said that the problem with the church is that we aren’t asking the right questions. He said that the only question we should ask is how many people we have brought to Christ this year. When he said that, everyone sort of turned their heads and looked at him sort of funny, not sure what he was actually saying. Someone asked him to repeat himself, and so he said his question again. 

At this second response, I said, “Are you asking how many adult professions of faith we’ve had?” And he said yes. To which I told him, “Well, I’ve had five adult professions of faith, but I am not responsible for any of them, and so I guess I would say I haven’t brought anyone to Christ.” I then followed up by saying “there were hundreds or maybe thousands of people before me who did all the work, and then there was the conviction brought by the Holy Spirit. None of this was my doing, I just happened to be the one who was there when they decided to make their commitment to God. And so if you ask how many people I brought to Christ, the answer is none, because the hard work was done before me, but if you ask how many people I’ve had make a profession of faith this year, it’s five. But those are two very different questions.”

I don’t think he was really happy with my answer, but something I find among my more conservative or evangelical colleagues is a blindness not only to the work of others, but more importantly to the work of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes it even seems that they doubt the work of the Holy Spirit altogether with their emphasis on all the work they must do, and have done, to get someone to “come to Christ.” As a result they take all the credit for something I don’t think they can or should take credit for.

This is best illustrated by someone I know who is routinely going around to different areas of the country preaching “revivals” and putting more notches in his belt, which he is certain to tell you all about. The problem is he has so many notches that his belt is bound to fall apart anytime, and then I wonder what he is going to do.

Originally posted at Yankee Pastor


"Soul Winning"

The preacher you mention was speaking a language very familiar to those if us who grew up Southern Baptist. It was usually about us, not the Holy Spirit. although we spoke often of the Spirit. We were praised for being "soul winners." I always wondered if there were also "soul losers." Meanwhile many of those same friends want the right to carry assault weapons, advocate for the death penalty, and never saw a immigrant that they wanted to keep in the U.S. Then I suppose they will be "won to Christ" before death or deportation.

Billl Holmes

And you wonder why you are not growing?

The current trend from 2000-2020 for the United Methodist Demonination is to shrink in size by 25%. John Nash's elitist attitude is well represented within the church and is instrumental in this current path.  Northpoint Church and Saddleback Church continue to have double digit growth every year. Their message is 180 degrees from the one expressed in this article. Which environment is the Holy Spirit most active?

Church growth as indicator of the activity of the Holy Spirit?

So church growth is a valid indicator of the activeity of the Spirit? Really? Could growth more likely be an indicator of the genius of a worship leader who knows entertainment value when he/she sees it? An indicator of a need for community for some? So the activity of the Holy Spirit has abandoned churches that are not adding numbers? AMAZING! And if our local megachurch just put three churches out of existence when they opened a "church" consisting of a large auditorium with a projection screen carryinging the feed from the mother church (oops! make that father church) and attracted all the young folks from the other churchws, then that was the Holy Spirit? And if that same megachurch drops a few hundred (soul-losing?) to a competing church, has the Spirit changed sides? I think I see why the 'Nones" may be on the increase and they actually be actually Spirit-led.

Romans 10:14-16

"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Yes, the work of the Holy Spirit is indispensible in seeing souls come to Christ.  The natural human being is dead and cannot respond until made alive by a supernatural act (Ephesians 2).  Yet most often the Holy Spirit's work comes to fruition through the actions of obedient individuals who have been given the ability to make themselves available to an effort, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit.  Of course the individual is free to obey or rebel in this as any other area of the Holy Spirit's prompting. 

So, then, a better wording of the zealot's question might be: "To how many people have you, enabled by the Holy Spirit's quickening and prompting, communicated the Gospel?"  It is the verbal communication of the Gospel (preaching)-- and the discipleship of those who respond-- which is my responsibility. 

The responsibility for the response of the hearer belongs to God.


Keep on blogging, John Nash

Keep on blogging. If some are disagreeing with you, it is a good sign that you that you said something that needs all of our thought, attention, and prayer.