Soulwinning: Why I Flossed Only One Tooth

For a life-long flosser (which I’m not), a one-tooth session seems pointless. I can hear it already. “What about the rest of your teeth? Don’t you want to keep them, too? If you’re going to take the time to get out the floss, wind it around your fingers, and stick them in your mouth, why in the world would you stop with just one tooth?”

There’s actually a very good reason – especially for a non-flosser like me.

And for me, that one tooth is a metaphor for today’s tiny step toward a habit of regular personal outreach in my community.

Tiny Habits

Flossing only one tooth is a specific example of what BJ Fogg, PhD at Stanford University, calls a tiny habit.

Do you want a new habit of flossing your teeth daily? Start with a commitment to floss one tooth each day immediately after brushing. Yes, just one tooth.

Do you want a new habit of exercising daily? Start with a commitment to put on your exercise clothes every morning as soon as you get out of bed. Yes, even without doing so much as one pushup.

The trick is to add this new insignificant behavior immediately following an already-entrenched habit.

After your new action becomes habit, springboard from it either to expand your desired behavior or to replace the entrenched behavior. (Or both!)

My Desired Behavior

Most of my life, I have not attended a church with a formal, organized soulwinning program (or I was too young to know whether they had one). And even with an organized visitation time, I don’t recall having access to a training or mentoring program to help me turn “visitation” into “soulwinning.”

I know soulwinning is important. In my head, I comprehend the urgency of sharing the gospel with those around me.

But with the magnitude of the task, deliberately, regularly, vocally, systematically telling others about Christ is a habit that – so far – has been too overwhelming for me to adopt.

I believe that God is sovereign enough to bring the gospel to my neighbors without me, but … I don’t truly believe he is sovereign enough to use me to do it.

It’s not just that I’m busy (though I am). It’s more that I’m afraid.

Afraid of stumbling. Afraid of giving a bad impression of my church and my Savior. Afraid of what might come out of my mouth when I don’t have undo, backspace, and delete at my fingertips to edit and craft my message.

I have read so many skeptics who mock the message – and the door-to-door religion salesmen who deliver it poorly. I didn’t want to be “that guy.”

I believe that God is sovereign enough to bring the gospel to my neighbors without me, but if I’m honest, I have to admit I don’t truly believe he is sovereign enough to use me to do it.

When I’m in a conversation and I try to steer it toward matters of faith, my brain usually freezes – and my mouth with it.

To make a pattern of that kind of activity is beyond my comprehension right now.

But I can at least put on my exercise clothes. I can floss one tooth.

My “One Tooth”

Our church has been putting together door hangers with information packets about our church. Several weeks ago, I picked up one hundred of these hangers, intending to deliver them throughout my neighborhood.

And they sat on the kitchen counter. For weeks.

Finally, they were “cleaned up” and put into a closet, awaiting some divine intervention in my schedule. Or maybe divine conviction.

During my breakfast date with Lana last week, we decided how and when we’d begin our new habit.

Every Saturday at 10:30am, we will spend 30 minutes going door-to-door with those information packets. If someone answers the doorbell, the script is simple. Whoever speaks will introduce our family, tell where we live in the neighborhood, invite them to church, hand them the packet, and tell them we hope to see them at church.

That started this morning.

At this point, there’s no “If you died today…” question. In fact, we ask no questions at all.

And the life-long soulwinners may legitimately ask, “What about their eternity? Don’t they need to hear the gospel? If you’re going to take the time to pack up the family, walk down the sidewalk, ring the doorbell, and hold a conversation, why in the world would you stop with just an invitation to church?”

They’re right. By God’s grace, we will establish a pattern of regular, systematic, vocal, gospel-filled conversation.

And for us, that journey began this morning by flossing one tooth.

Take Action

What new behavior do you want to start in your life?

  • Isolate the insignificant “first step” of that new habit.
  • Identify an existing habit that will work as a reminder to trigger your new behavior.
  • Commit to taking that insignificant “first step” every time that existing trigger happens.

Share this article: