Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Dawson Trotman & Soulwinning

In the little booklet called Born to Reproduce (Navpress, 2005), Dawson Trotman writes, “Soulwinners are not soulwinners because of what they know, but because of the Person they know, how well they know Him, and how much they long for others to know Him.”

The only word I would add to this quote is “primarily” so that it would read like this: “Soulwinners are not soulwinners primarily because of what they know…” I agree that the most important thing in soulwinning is knowing Jesus, indeed, Christianity is not essentially informational but rather relational. However, what we know about Jesus matters very much, even if it flows from the prior fact that we know him.

For instance, if you were to say that my mother derived from the south of France, stood four-feet, eight-inches tall, and worked most of her life in the textiles industry, I would be quick to tell you that you were not speaking about my mother. My mother hailed from Missouri (pronounced Mazura), stood five-feet, six-inches tall, and worked most of her life in the restaurant and financial businesses. It is no exaggeration to say that everything I learned about my mother flowed from the fact that I first knew her, but even to say, “I know my mother,” implies specific, exclusive, verifiable information. If this were not so I would not be able to tell who was speaking about my mother and who was not.

This same dynamic is present in Christianity as well. To be a Christian is to have encountered the living Christ and surrendered to his will and ways for our lives. Then, as we walk with him we come to know more and more about him—who he is, how he thinks, what his demands upon our lives are, what his passions and motives are, what his mission is, etc. That specific, exclusive, verifiable information is the content and credence of our knowledge of the person Jesus Christ. If this were not so we would not be able to tell who was speaking about Jesus Christ as he is and who was not.

Thus, while it is true to say that the soulwinner’s main task is not to gather and dispense information, it is not true to say, or imply, that his grasp of information about Christ is altogether meaningless or unimportant in soulwinning. Because if I’m to share who I know, I must at the very least share the heart of what I know so that there’s a “who” for someone else to know.

Thinking this way helps us to see that all of our gains in the knowledge of Christ have great evangelistic potential, not in the least because as we come to know him who gave everything for the glory of the Father in the salvation of the lost, we come to love what he loves, and to lay our lives down for what he laid his life down for.

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