Bro. Joel Wells, tell us a little about yourself and your ministry.
I attend the First Pentecostal Church in Titusville, Florida pastored by my son, Jody Wells. I am a retired U.S. Probation Officer who now works as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. I am the son of a UPCI home missionary (deceased) who started two churches that are still thriving today. My two brothers are UPCI ministers: Larry, a Florida District Administrator and former pastor for 30 years, and Kenneth Wells, pastor of the church in Fruitland Park, Florida for over 30 years. My sister married a UPCI pastor and my nephew, Nathan, pastors in Sandwich, Illinois. I am just an everyday saint who sits on a church pew, striving to take as many souls to heaven as I can. I am a church elder, the Discipleship Director and Life in Focus Director at the church.
What can a pastor do to motivate his church to greater involvement in soulwinning?
From the perspective of a layman who grew up in the home of a minister, preaching alone will not necessarily motivate the average saint. The least appealing “job” in the church is winning souls because it requires individuals to get outside of their comfort zone, sacrifice time and conquer fear. It is a lot easier to sing in the choir, give to the church, or show up for workday. Impressing upon those in the pew that inadequacies are strength and being creative in the ways the pulpit attempts to instill a hunger to win souls are the keys to motivating them.
People often express they lack a burden to witness. How would you address this?
I would use the analogy of the words “batteries not included.” The device has the potential to function, but a person must invest a little bit more by purchasing batteries to accomplish this. Similarly, when we obey Acts 2:38 we have the potential to turn the world upside down. But not without a burden. A burden is going to require sacrifice of time, obedience, blind faith and prayer. Let me cite an example from my book. I was the youth leader of our church when my pastor asked me if the youth would be able to raise $600 to buy a bus for a bus ministry. For the next two or three months, I would drive to Orlando every Saturday morning to purchase 100 dozen donuts and return to Titusville by 7 a.m. so we could go door to door selling them. Upon accomplishing this task, Bro. Kennedy had the bus painted and waited for someone to step forward to take on this ministry. It did not happen, and Bro. Kennedy informed me that he was going to have to sell the bus. I was horrified. We had worked too hard to raise that money. I told Bro. Kennedy that I was already busy with the youth, and I did not have a burden for bus ministry. However, if he would give me time to pray about it, to read some books on the subject and to talk to bus ministers in other churches, I would take on this task. By the time we hit the streets of Titusville a couple of months later seeking prospects, I had a burden that continued for the five years that I ran this ministry. Just this year, 35 years after I gave up bus ministry, I felt impressed by the Spirit to visit a couple of the homes on that old bus route that are inhabited by family members who still remember that bus route. I invested in them, and I can’t stop praying that those kids (now in their 40s) will find God.
What is the best way to teach and train people to be an effective witness?
Ensure that your discipleship curriculum includes the topic of how to be an effective witness. Another way is to create a personal evangelism class led by someone who has won souls and has a burden for this ministry. Be creative and make it enticing for church members to desire to be a part of these training programs.
Take us through a sample soul-winning scenario if I wanted to witness to my next-door neighbor.
The Bible tells us to be “wise as serpents.” The operative word here is wise. Too often, the first mistake we make is to invite our neighbor to church immediately. In other words, we want to get them to do something for us. How about doing something for them? Fix them a cake, invite them over for a cookout, and see if you can help them when they are working on their car or mower, etc., without mentioning church. Allow them to create an opening for you to talk about something going on at the church, i.e. a garage sale, spaghetti dinner, VBS, or Sunday school. BE WISE. Do not force your beliefs upon them or condemn their religious beliefs. Be sensitive to the Spirit. You should be able to determine whether they are receptive or not to receiving a home Bible study, attend a service or find the “more” that is missing from their lives. If they are not yet ready, patiently await another opening to present itself. Confidently believe and pray that they will be saved.
What ministries should a church consider to provide opportunities for their members to be a witness?
Bus ministry, visitor follow-up, home Bible study teacher, block party blitzes, drama, revival or special service promotion team, holiday gift and food deliveries (servant evangelism) and personal evangelism training.
We hear a lot about “servant evangelism” today. What’s your opinion of this approach?
I believe it is one of many ways to reach the community as well as a way to enhance church name recognition to a larger population. However, it is only a means to a greater end. It may open doors, but personal evangelism is the most effective means of winning souls.
You recently wrote a book on soulwinning. What prompted you to write this? What’s the story behind it?
I am a shy, introverted individual but discovered that I could be instrumental in winning souls to God. Many Apostolics feel they are incapable of winning souls or they are too busy or possibly feel that soulwinning is a job for someone else. My book is an attempt to encourage reluctant, fearful or uncommitted saints that if I can do it, surely they can as well. The central story in this book is my three-year endeavor to win my secretary to God. During this time, I began journaling my “roller coaster” thoughts, prayers and obsessions about my mission to win her.
What approach does your book take? What topics does it cover?
The book is entitled Mission Possible: Becoming a Soulwinning Agent. While searching for a different twist to make this book more appealing to readers, I discovered that intelligence agents such as with the CIA have the same mission as the child of God – conversion. A spy’s primary mission is the conversion of another targeted enemy spy. Our divine directive is to target lost souls. Utilizing this analogy, I suggest that we can use techniques similar to the intelligence agent to accomplish His mission, emphasizing that even the most timid among us can become God’s secret agent. The topics I cover include the attributes of an intelligence agent: accepting the mission, being mentors, being fearless, being resilient, and becoming successful. In addition, it addresses how success prepares the agent and the soulwinner for unexpected assignments based upon the trust the intelligence agency (God) now has in them.
Do you conduct soulwinning training seminars? How to purchase book? Cost?
Yes, I am preparing for this as we speak. I am currently working on a workbook to utilize for soulwinning training seminars, and the book is already in a format that can be utilized for such a purpose.
My book can be purchased through the Pentecostal Publishing House ($13.99 book/$9.99 E-Book.) It is also available through Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com in E-reader format for $9.99. At the 2014 General Conference, I pledged all the profits (as long as the book is in print) to missions during the Foreign Missions service. I deeply love missions and lost souls. I can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone @ 321-431-8295 and by mail at Joel Wells, 3077 Green Turtle Circle, Mims, FL 32754.