Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 3, 1963
NUMBER 22, PAGE 2,10b

"Salvation Salesmen"

Robert H. Parish

"Salvation salesmen" fits the concept which some people seem to entertain of gospel preachers. Instances are known where gospel preachers were required to keep books on calls made and turn in regular itemized reports to the elders. This is bureaucracy gone to seed. Do brethren give any thoughts at all before adopting such ideas? Are they so blind as to be unable to see that these artificial rigid work schedules promote professionalism? Such regimentation may make for efficiency in selling vacuum cleaners, insurance policies or automobiles, but making a sale is not the same thing as converting a soul. There have been too many "sales" made by "salvation salesmen" and too few conversions to Christ, by faithful preachers preaching the gospel.

The gospel is the power of God unto salvation and the gospel preacher has the awful responsibility of preaching the gospel. Gospel preachers will do well to remember that "it is not fit that" they "forsake the word of God" either to serve tables, make calls, or keep records. The time spent in keeping records and making of reports could be better spent in studying the Bible. Spiritual exercise and growth cannot be reduced to statistical data. What value to elders are mathematical figures representing the number of calls a preacher makes? Would a report on the number of his prayers and their length assist the elders in performing their duties of oversight?

How Many Calls Should A Preacher Make?

What standard is to be used to determine whether a preacher is "gold-bricking" or fulfilling his ministry? How many "calls" should a preacher make per day? What is the quota that he should be expected to make? Who has the authority to set up the quota? These and similar considerations should cause the thoughtful to see that any quota of calls which might be set up would have to be arbitrary and subjective.

But how many calls should a preacher make? If by "calls" we have in mind dropping in on people for a few minutes, chat, in which a few allusions to the church, the Bible, etc., are mixed in with social, political and business remarks, then the answer is none. Anyone that deliberately wastes time — his and others — In any such fashion, is only cheapening the gospel. No criticism is intended of a preacher who is sociable and exerts himself to become acquainted with people. It is only when such activities are emphasized to the neglect of essential study, etc., that they become liable to just criticism.

How many calls should a preacher make? The value of a "forced audience," if it has any value, is slight. When a preacher calls on people who are rank strangers to him, such an audience is generally a forced audience. Courtesy "forces" them to "listen." A captive audience of adults, regardless of the factors which causes them to be involuntary hearers, is unsatisfactory. The tactics of religious "door bell ringers" along with the "foot in the door" salesmen have conditioned the public against this method. The resentment of the "prospect" will disqualify him as a prospect. Wisdom is lacking in those brethren who pressure the preacher into any such situations.

How many calls should a preacher make? In nearly every congregation there are several skillful "buck passers." These are the members who call the preacher and advise him that he "ought to call on" a certain person or persons. In such cases the preacher should inquire, "When will it be convenient for you to go with me to call on your friend (or relative)?" He should go with the member and make such calls.

The members should be made to realize that they have a personal responsibility to arrange receptive audiences for the preacher to "call on." The best place, to arrange for this audience to be "called on" by the preacher, is in the member's home. The best people to get together in this audience are the member's friends and/or relatives. Such an audience in such surroundings is more at ease; resentment and feelings of antagonism are less likely to be present in such a voluntary audience. If brethren would follow the example of Cornelius and call together their kinsmen and near friends to hear words from the preacher, the "calls" of the preacher would be really profitable. The preacher would be spending his time preaching the word, not in fruitless "calling," book-keeping, and report making.

"Personal Workers"

Personal workers should not be a class apart from other members. Every Christian is required to work in the vineyard of the Lord. Every person who is truly converted (turned) has turned "to serve the living God." Why not begin emphasizing training the members and avoid such terminology as "personal workers?" The very terminology suggests that some are to be "personal workers" while others are personally exempt. No member can depend for his personal salvation upon the personal work done by the "personal workers" in the congregation. "For we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad." (2 Cor. 5:10)

But someone may say, "We all know that there are some in the congregation who will do "personal work" and others who will not put out any effort to convert others, why not refer to the ones who work as 'personal workers'? How can we describe the respective groups?" They can be described as faithful and unfaithful brethren. "But shouldn't brethren be trained?" Yes, the brethren, all the brethren, should be trained or edified. "But some are more apt and thus by native endowment are more successful personal workers." The trouble here is that we have in our thinking placed in proper limitation upon personal work. Certainly not every one is a gifted conversationalist, able to readily remember references and quote passages and select the word best suited, but there are few, if any, members of the church who cannot mail tracts, address cards inviting people to the meeting, arrange for neighbors to come to their houses for Bible study (no tricks though — don't try to catch them with guile by neglecting to tell them that they are being invited in to study the Bible; deceit never contributes to the conversion of a soul). Even the "one talent" member can work in the vineyard of the Lord, and be called "good and faithful servant."

The saints in every place need to learn that the gospel is not a "commodity" which is to be peddled to people in the vein and on the plane of a TV commercial. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. The gospel preacher should add to his faith, virtue; he should develop sufficient strength of character to resist all attempts to make him into a "salvation salesman."

— 417 E. Groesbeck, Lufkin, Texas