Our job as soulwinners is to sow the gospel seed—faithfully and regularly. Psalm 126:6 promises, “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”
But not everyone is saved the first time the seed is sown in his heart. In 1 Corinthians 3:6, the Apostle Paul wrote, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” Jesus told his disciples in John 4:34, “I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.”
The soil of many hearts requires cultivating to produce a harvest. If, when we encounter hearts that need to be cultivated, we simply race on to sow the gospel in more places, we’ll neglect relationships God would use to produce spiritual fruit.
Fruitful soulwinners cultivate relationships. And every consistently fruitful soulwinner whom I have known has consistently used some form of a prospect list as a tool to cultivate these relationships.
What is a prospect list? And how is it used? But below are some of the common questions soulwinners have regarding how to use this vital tool.
What is a prospect list?
The prospect list is the single most important and effective soulwinning tool for stewarding gospel contacts.
It is not complicated. It’s a simple list of names with contact information and a record of attempts you’ve made to make contact.
Some people will trust Christ the very first time you share the gospel with them—even if it is the first time they met you. Others, however, will not. But that does not mean these others wouldn’t trust Christ the second or third time you come by. Keeping and maintaining a prospect list allows you to be intentional and persistent in your efforts to develop a relationship and to share the gospel.
My prospect list helps me follow up on people I’ve met out doorknocking as well as seeing new Christians baptized, added to the church, and grounded through discipleship.
Who do I include on my prospect list?
You want to add anyone you believe to be a positive contact for the gospel. This may be a guest who you met at church but is not saved (or not yet added to the church). It may be a coworker or classmate. It may be a business contact—a vendor or a client. It may be someone who you met while you were soulwinning.
Some soulwinners approach door-to-door witnessing with a canvassing mentality. They knock on doors on a particular street, and the brief encounter they have at each door is the only encounter until months or years later when they come to that street again.
I prefer to approach doorknocking with a shepherding mentality. I’ll do my best at each door to gain an opportunity to share the gospel, but if the person is having dinner or it is a bad time for them to listen, I will ask if I can come back later.
Similarly, if a person is receptive to my visit and perhaps even listens to the gospel but doesn’t trust Christ, I want to develop a relationship with that person. It may be easier to knock only on fresh doors every time you go out soulwinning, but in so doing, you’ll neglect people whose hearts the Holy Spirit began stirring by your first visit.
Also, if a person does trust Christ as Saviour, I don’t want to leave this young Christian with a simple admonition to come to church. I’m going to keep following up on him until he is baptized and added to the church.
In any of these cases, I’ll give the contact my phone number and ask for his. I’ll also jot down his address. All of this information I’ll add to my prospect list.
How do I use my prospect list?
Once you have a prospect list, what do you do with the names on it?
- Pray daily—You can visit, call, and write notes, but only God can work in hearts. Use your prospect list as a daily prayer list, and it will become ten times more valuable than it is as a simple contact list.
- Contact weekly—I strive to contact each person on my prospect list at least once per week with a visit, note, or phone call/text. In some cases, I will make multiple efforts toward contact in a given week if I don’t actually connect with them on the first try. The key here is to diligently pursue them, not to simply ease my mind that I tried to make an effort. Be sensitive, too, to the Holy Spirit in your efforts. There may be occasions to back off for a period of time or to send a note instead of making a visit. But whatever you do, don’t neglect these contacts.
- Update regularly—Your list is only as good as it is current. Be diligent in recording your weekly contacts, and periodically update your entire list. I’m very slow to remove someone from my prospect list, but there are occasions when they have repeatedly expressed they are no longer interested or they have moved without giving me new contact information that I will remove a person from my list. Even then, I will keep their contact information and attempt to renew contact again when we are having a special Sunday at church or it has been several weeks since I last tried.
I challenge you to take a specific step of action before the end of today: begin a prospect list.
You can use this prospect book from Striving Together Publications. You can even use a stack of 3×5 cards with a hole punch and a ring around them. But whatever you use, use something!
If you are a soulwinning Christian with a heart for God and a responsiveness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, you will have people who need you to cultivate their hearts through a relationship. A prospect list is the single best tool I know to use to steward the contacts God gives me for the gospel.