October 5, 2011
October 5, 2011
It’s so scripted, one could even say it sounds “canned.”
It’s also unsophisticated in its presentation — the people who utilize it read it out loud while literally staring at a sheet of paper or a card.
But those who use it say it’s also amazingly simple and to the point — like the Gospel itself — and that the fire of God’s Holy Spirit is unmistakably behind it. They believe that’s why in recent months it has proven exceedingly effective in leading not just hundreds but thousands of Northwesterners to salvation through Jesus Christ.
It is the “Gospel Soul-Winning Script,” and through the promotion of an internationally known, Florida-based evangelist, several churches in this part of the Northwest are using it to remarkable success. In Medford, 250 people have prayed to receive Christ since April. In a special “marathon” effort Aug. 27, 382 people in Albany took that same step. And since last spring and early summer, more than 2,200 people in the Portland area have met Christ through the work of a church in Happy Valley.
Working as main coordinator for these efforts regionally is Dan Mickelson, founding pastor of New Song Church in Medford and former pastor of Philadelphia Church in Warrenton. He was one of nine Oregonians who in late April spent several days at The River at Tampa Bay, a Florida church led by Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne, who also heads Revival Ministries International At Howard-Browne’s invitation, the group visited to observe how his church is utilizing the soul-winning strategy to reach many thousands.
Joining Mickelson were Pastor Denny Cline and Carl Madison of Jesus Pursuit Church in Albany; Pastor Galen Gingerich and Mark Swynth of New Horizons Church in McMinnville, Pastor Joel Hjertstedt and evangelist Vishaal Behl of Destiny Christian Fellowship in Happy Valley, Pastor Jeff McCracken of Rainier Assembly of God in Rainier and John Torres of Lighthouse International Church in Eugene.
On Jan. 1, Howard-Browne launched the Great Awakening Tour, including nightly meetings aired on both Direct TV and DISH Network, and a focus on reaching souls through street outreach utilizing the script. The Howard-Brownes brought their tour to Cline’s church in Albany for four days last month.
According to Howard-Browne’s website, a goal of reaching 100 million souls for Jesus came as a result of a personal tragedy for him and his wife, Adonica — the death of one of their children in 2002. “As our 18-year-old daughter, Kelly, lay dying in our arms of cystic fibrosis, on Christmas morning 2002, we made a vow. We vowed that the devil would pay for what he had done to our family,” Howard-Browne stated.
Training in use of the script is ongoing at the Tampa church, and the Oregon group spent several days putting it into practice there.
“It’s almost liturgical; there is some repeating to it,” said Mickelson. “It’s unusual that someone as charismastic or neo-Pentecostal as Rodney Howard-Browne would use this … But the main thing they say is, ‘Just read the script.. Everything within you pastors is going to scream to want to ad lib. But just read the script.’ ’’
While it may sound a bit awkward to do just that — and without necessarily even having to make much direct eye contact while doing so — it actually helps make those listening to the script feel more comfortable, said Mickelson. “It takes people off the hook a little bit; it takes the confrontive edge off,” he said.
The group came back eager to try out the soul-winning strategy on home turf. So eager, in fact, that they couldn’t quite wait. They used it in the airports coming home, and led other travelers to the Lord.
In Medford, Mickelson shared the strategy with his congregation and they set to work. “In Medford, we found that one out of every five people that you approach will pray the prayer,” Mickelson said. “And out of that, one out of every three will give you a phone number (for follow-up).”
Hjertstedt said the results of using the script have been phenomenal for his Portland-area church. “I’ve never seen anything happen like what we’re seeing right now,” he said. “It’s just like fruit dropping off the vine into your hands.”
Based on the success he and others in his Oregon group have seen, Mickelson proposed an experiment — a one-day Northwest Great Awakening Marathon in Albany on Saturday, Aug. 27. His goal was to have 200 people from churches throughout the region do a six-hour soul-winning effort on the streets, while 200 others interceded in prayer at Cline’s church.
On that day, 173 people showed up representing 25 different churches, some from as far away as Seattle, Redding, Calif., and even India. In addition to the 382 who prayed to receive Christ, there were 11 recommitments to Christ, 14 prayers for deliverance from demonic forces, and eight baptized in the Holy Spirit, said Mickelson.
Another soul-winning marathon is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 22, based out of Destiny Christian Fellowship’s regular worship location, Happy Valley Middle School, 13865 S.E. King Road, Happy Valley. Registration starts at 9 a.m., and the marathon will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., followed by a pizza feed. Registration is $15 for both materials and pizza. Mickelson said he again hopes to see 200 working on local streets, and another 200 in prayer. For full information, go to SoulWinningMarathons.com.
Mickelson said he would like to schedule at least 100 similar events over the next 10 years throughout the Pacific Northwest, “and get to the point where we can do two the same day and connect both with Skype (video) technology,” he said.
Mickelson said it is thrilling to see the results of the campaigns. “It’s kind of like going deep-sea fishing and the difference between influencing a salmon and actually catching one,” he said. “It’s a lot more fun to catch one.”
In a video that can be found on the “Northwest Awakening Conference” page on his church’s web site, www.jesuspursuit.org, Cline agreed that the strategy is effective. “I know a lot of people are saying (about scripted invitations) ‘Been there, done that’…. But we cast our nets on the other side, and all of a sudden, it’s like souls are coming in like crazy.”
Mickelson emphasized that the campaign is more than just the initial “catch” — that efforts are made to help those new believers who are open to further contact through regular, encouraging phone calls.
Cline noted that in Tampa alone, more than 70,000 people have prayed to receive Christ this year. The same kind of thing can happen in the Northwest, he said.
Hjertstedt agreed, saying “Every church in Oregon can experience this.”
“Oregon is called the least churched state in the nation, so it seems fitting that this is where there should be a revival,” said Cline. “This is going to grow exponentially over the coming months and years … we want to see a great awakening that really changes this nation and brings people back to God.”
Here is a link to the script, off of Rodney Howard-Browne’s web
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