At one point in my Christian experience I kept detailed records of my evangelistic encounters. I would note the date, the person’s name, their response to the Gospel, and whether they were open to further contact.
I kept score. I had notches on my spiritual guns. I could tell you how many people I had led to Christ in the last month or year.
I no longer keep score. I can’t tell you any longer how many people I have led to Christ recently. (While I am confident that I have led a number of people to Christ in say the past year, I don’t know precisely who most of them are. I look forward to finding out in eternity.)
Why? Because I have found that keeping score hindered me.
It hindered me by making me too concerned to know a person’s immediate response to the Gospel. I became nervous trying to discern this and so did the witnessee. My need to close the sale (so to speak) actually created a barrier to clear, confident, and courteous communication.
It required so much energy to keep score that I began to dread witnessing.
I found keeping score made me overly concerned about my role in evangelism. Since I’ve stopped keeping score I find it much easier to leave the results up to God.
I find other people much less put off when I share my faith now. Sharing my faith has become as natural as talking about sports or politics or anything else.
Some might object that if you don’t keep score it becomes impossible to follow up new believers. I don’t think so. I follow up everyone I can–whether they are still unbelievers, new believers, young believers, or mature believers. Whether a person trusted Christ ten years ago or ten minutes ago, I want them to be involved in follow up. In my estimation the local church should be the primary source of this. If I speak with someone in my area, I invite them to my church and my Sunday School class. If I speak to someone elsewhere, I encourage them to plug into a solid Bible teaching, Free Grace oriented church.
Another way we can follow up people is giving them good literature. I like to give out The GES News and sign people up to receive it regularly. In addition I buy and give away copies of excellent books like Zane Hodges’s The Gospel Under Siege and Grace in Eclipse. Tapes too can have a wonderful ministry in a person’s life.
One final point. We often get a misleading picture if we try to keep score. People from certain cultures so highly regard honor and respect that they rarely if ever disagree with someone to their face. Many Asians and Hispanics, for example, have this as a cultural value. As a result, when we ask them if they are now trusting in Christ such people are very likely to say yes, even though the real answer is no. This is viewed as being polite.
This is also true when adults witness to children. They so want to please adults that they are very likely to say whatever they think we want to hear.
Should we keep score in evangelism? I don’t think so. While the Bible doesn’t forbid keeping score, it surely doesn’t command it either. In my own experience, having done it both ways, I find it best to leave the score keeping to God.
Bob Wilkin is the Founder and Executive Director of GES. The viewpoint here expressed is not the formal position of GES. It is merely Bob’s individual opinion.