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Chess, Not Checkers: Part 2


Beginning in last week's article (found here: and this week's Text-Driven podcast, this article will continue the "Chess, Not Checkers" analogy in our series on the "Text-Driven Soul-Winner." Last week, the need to be person-focused and persuasive was observed. Next week, evangelism methods will be discussed, but this week, the game of "chess" will be observed. The phases and outcomes of the game will be discussed.


Phases of the Chess Game

The text-driven soul-winner must know the phases of the "chess game." Knowing these phases gives a general outline of the evangelistic encounter and helps the soul-winner use the best methods. In the following articles on evangelism methods, these phrases will be used to evaluate and explain those various methods. Like in chess, the phases are the opening, middlegame, and endgame.



Simply put, the opening of chess is the start of the game. These are the first moves that each player makes. The opening will set up the course of the game for the chess player and determine how he goes on to play the rest of the game. In evangelism, the opening is whatever moves the conversation from a normal conversation into a gospel conversation. Other sources and works on evangelism have called these "knocks" or transition questions. In other words, the opening is how the soul-winner engages an unbeliever in an evangelistic encounter. Therefore, a soul-winner’s opening will often determine how the rest of the evangelistic encounter will go, or even if there is one. The goal of the opening and the theory of what makes a good opening compared to what makes a bad opening will be discussed in next week's article, but suffice it to say, an opening is the starting point of every evangelistic encounter.



The middlegame of chess is where the bulk of the game is actually played. Players will use tactics, trade pieces, and set up an attempt for checkmate in this phase. In evangelism, the middlegame is where the gospel conversation occurs. The soul-winner will use methods in this phase, answer the objections of the evangelized, and guide the evangelized to a place where he has to decide whether to accept the gospel or reject it. The bulk of the evangelistic encounter will take place in the middlegame. In next week's article, the goals and theory of what makes a good middlegame will be discussed, but for now, the middlegame is the back-and-forth conversation about the gospel.



The last phase, the endgame of chess, is where a player attempts to win the game. The player will use specific tactics to move his opponent's king to a place where he can get checkmate. In evangelism, the endgame is the conversation after a person has communicated that they would be interested in accepting the gospel. The endgame begins with the question, "Do you want to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior," and the response is "Yes." In other words, the conversation does not end when the evangelized says yes. Instead, the original conversation morphs into another conversation about what it means to be saved, inquiring if the evangelized wants to be saved and how one can be saved. The goals and theory of the endgame will be discussed in next week's article, but for now, the endgame is when the soul-winner guides the evangelized to truly give his entire life to Jesus.


Possible Outcomes

The text-driven soul-winner, knowing the phases of the game, must also know the possible outcomes of an evangelistic encounter. Just like there are six overarching outcomes in chess, there are six possible outcomes in an evangelistic encounter.


The first possible outcome is that the person evangelized received Christ as his Lord and Savior and is saved. This outcome can be called "Checkmate," where the soul-winner "wins." The soul-winner has walked through every phase of the encounter with the evangelized, and the evangelized repents and believes the gospel. The soul-winner always hopes this will be the outcome of every evangelistic encounter, but realistically, this is not something the soul-winner can control; rather, it is the responsibility of the evangelized to respond and the work of the Holy Spirit.


The second possible outcome is when the evangelized knows why he must be saved and how he can be saved but rejects Jesus anyway. This outcome can be called "resignation." In chess, when a person knows that he will be checkmated, he will resign from the game before his opponent puts him in checkmate. In evangelism, resignation happens when the soul-winner has answered the objections of the evangelized, has explained the need and availability of salvation, has called the lost person to salvation, and the evangelized rejects it and leaves the conversation. A common phrase used by the evangelized in resignation is something along the lines of "I know I need to be saved, but I just don't think this is a good time." The evangelized rejects not because he has any objections left but only because he does not want to be saved. This outcome will be a common occurrence when the text-driven soul-winner has faithfully shared the gospel.


The third possible outcome is when the evangelized ends the evangelistic encounter. This outcome can be called a "draw." In chess, a draw is when the game runs out of time or has come to a place where neither side can get a checkmate. In evangelism, a draw can happen simply because the evangelized doesn't have the time to talk anymore. The soul-winner cannot do anything about this kind of draw other than try to have a follow-up conversation at a later time. A draw can also be when the evangelized has run out of objections but is still obstinately refusing to believe the gospel. In this kind of draw, the soul-winner has answered the objections of the evangelized, has explained the need and availability of the gospel, and called the lost person to salvation, but the evangelized wants to find another objection, and no more progress can be made. While the soul-winner can do some things to avoid this outcome, some people will force a draw.


The fourth possible outcome is when the soul-winner ends the evangelistic encounter. This outcome can be called a "stalemate." In chess, a stalemate is a type of draw where one chess player makes a move that his opponent cannot make a legal move in response to but isn't a checkmate. Often, this happens because a chess player makes a foolish move when he's attempting to get a checkmate in the endgame. In evangelism, a stalemate can happen when the soul-winner runs out of time and has to leave the conversation. While this outcome is sometimes unavoidable, the soul-winner should keep his time in mind when evangelizing. Another type of stalemate is when the soul-winner says or does something that prevents the true conversion of the evangelized. The most common way a soul-winner can do this is by rushing the endgame and having the evangelized say the "Sinner's Prayer" too early. Another way to end up in this type of stalemate is to fail to ask the evangelized if he wants to be saved and not enter the endgame phase at all. A stalemate should be an avoidable outcome, and the soul-winner should intentionally avoid it.


The fifth possible outcome is that the evangelized rejects the soul-winner, not Jesus and the gospel. This outcome can be called a "forfeit." In chess, a forfeit happens when a chess player no longer wants to play the game. A common reason someone forfeits is that he believes his opponent is cheating and doesn't want to play with a cheater. In evangelism, a forfeit is when the evangelized finds a problem with the ethos of the soul-winner. This could be due to the soul-winner being obnoxious, rude, needlessly offensive, or mean. Therefore, in response to this, the evangelized refuses to converse with the soul-winner. The soul-winner, as much as possible, should avoid this outcome. If this outcome consistently occurs, the soul-winner acting as a stumbling block in his evangelistic encounters.


The final possible outcome is when the evangelized stumps the soul-winner with an objection. Thus, the evangelistic encounter ends with the evangelized leaving the conversation with an excuse that he believes is reasonable for his unbelief. This outcome can be called a "checkmate," where the evangelized "wins." The soul-winner should desire for this to never be an outcome, but sometimes even the most prepared soul-winner is stumped.


The Text-Driven Soul-Winner must know these possible outcomes to aim for the ideal outcomes, which are the first two explained. However, being aware of all six outcomes will help the soul-winner determine how he'll play the game.



Over the next two articles, the outline of the three phases—opening, middlegame, and endgame—will be filled in with various methods and tactics so that the Text-Driven Soul-Winner can excel at evangelism. As can be seen, the chess game of evangelism mainly has outcomes where the lost stay lost, but there's really good news: the Text-Driven Soul-Winner can return to play another "chess" game with them. Therefore, every gospel conversation is a new chess game, and the soul-winner can and should return and evangelize smarter and avoid mistakes made in the last evangelistic encounter.

Article written by Klayton Carson

The "What is the Bible" series is also on the Text-Driven Podcast. You can listen to the Text-Driven Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or at


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