It begins with me and you. We must realize that it is our mission to make disciples of all nations, preaching the gospel to the whole creation, baptizing them and teaching them to observe all the commandments of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16). Evangelism is not one program among many others but it is the underlying reason for all we do in the church.
Are we fulfilling our mission? Have we forgotten it? Become distracted from it? Lost focus? Gotten discouraged? Frustrated? God, how can we do better?
In this article, I want to help us apply some practical principles from the Bible for accomplishing our mission of evangelism. Let’s consider a plan, a promise and a prayer.
A Plan This is a plan that any member can use to make disciples; even the newest of Christians can do these things.
1. Pray for the souls in your circle of influence. How do I begin to win a soul for Jesus? Pray for the souls in your circle of influence. Family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, schoolmates and others, all have souls you may influence for Christ. Don’t think that there is no one you can influence for Christ. These may be souls that you can win for Christ that no one else can.
Think about it. What souls are closest to you? Is it a family member or close friend that you could win for the Lord? What souls do you see most often? Coworkers, schoolmates, neighbors? What persons do you pass by without seeing them as souls? Those at the store, in restaurants or other places of business you frequent? Visitors at your home such as repairmen, housecleaners and yard persons? Whenever you see someone it may be that you have been given another opportunity to win a soul for Jesus.
It might help you to make a list of your “10 Most Wanted”. Pray for them every day. I like to put a name on a piece of paper, wad it up and put it in my pocket so that every time I reach into my pocket I am reminded to pray for that soul.
Your prayer for souls must come from the heart. It is a genuine concern for the salvation of others that will move us to pray for them and try to reach them for Christ. The apostle Paul expressed his deep feeling and prayer for the salvation of his people in these words, “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved” (Romans 10:1).
Winning a soul for Jesus must not only be the prayer on your lips but also the desire of your heart.
2. Be a friend of sinners. Jesus was criticized by the Jewish religious leaders of His day because He was “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Mat. 11:19). A tax collector was one of the most despised of sinners because they were considered traitors of their own people while collecting taxes for the Romans and often exploiting the people, overcharging them to line their own pockets. But, Jesus didn’t mind spending some time with them.
We cannot share Christ with others if we are not with them. We are not to be enemies to them but friends. They need to know that we care about them; are interested in them.
I remember talking to a fellow Christian one day. She told me that she purposely avoided her neighbors because of how they lived. She wouldn’t have anything to do with them but these are the very ones who need Jesus most!
We hear this cry from the Psalms, “No one cares for my soul” (Psalms 142:4). I wonder how many lost souls today have that same feeling of desperation.
Will you make a special effort this week to show the compassion, kindness and love of Christ to others, no matter who they are or how they might be living their lives? This is what they need more than anything else. It will help open their hearts to the gospel, which is able to save their souls. It is true; people will not care how much you know until they know how much you care.
3. Develop interest in their hearts for the gospel. In our efforts to win a soul for Jesus, it will help us to learn how to develop their interest in the gospel. We have already talked about the need to pray for them and to be a friend to them. This will let them know we care and help to open their hearts to us and the message of Christ. People are much more likely to listen to a friend who cares than to a stranger.
Before others will listen we first have to gain their ear. Like Peter told the women to win her husbands without a word by their chaste behavior (1 Peter 3:1-7), so let’s seek to win the respect of others by living as a Christian. Then, they might just listen to what we have to say about the Lord. It may be easy for us in our zeal to become impatient with others and to push ourselves upon them. But, we will not get very far with them if we “beat them over the head” with the Bible or try to “shove it down their throats”. In fact, it may only push them farther away. Peter wrote, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). Some aren’t asking, some don’t want to know, some are not ready for it or able to receive it but we must bring them along with meekness and fear (i.e. gently and respectfully).
Instead of arguing and debating with others, ask them questions about God, the Bible and Jesus that will help develop their interest in spiritual things. I remember once talking to a dad at my son’s ball game…after 45 minutes he was eager to study the Bible! Listen to them. This will help you to get to know them and learn where they are spiritually so you can better help them to come to Christ. Look for “ripe fruit” (i.e. those who are ready for the gospel). Don’t spend all your time with those who just want to argue and refuse to receive the truth, when you have others who are hungry for salvation and just need someone to share Jesus with them.
How you talk to people may determine whether or not you will win a soul for Jesus. Paul wrote, “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:5-6). Don’t be rude, harsh, insensitive, critical, condemning, arrogant, condescending and offensive but let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt. Seasoned speech is pleasant, palatable and appealing. This is how you ought to answer each one. The message of Christ never changes but how you relate that story to others may determine whether or not you win a soul for Jesus!
4. Introduce them to some of your fellow Christians. This will let them know that you are not the only one who is interested in Christ. It will also get other Christians involved in winning souls. Furthermore, often it takes several working together to bring others to Christ.
In Mark 2, we read about a paralyzed man who needed to get to Jesus. Since he could not walk he could not get to Jesus on his own. He needed someone to help him. The crowd surrounding Jesus also made it difficult. It took four men to get the paralytic to Jesus. They could not get through the door of the house where He taught so they went up on the roof, tore it open and let the sick man down on his bed to Jesus.
There are many in the world today that are paralyzed spiritually by sin and will never get to Jesus unless someone helps them. Others find it difficult to get pass family and friends who would hinder them from coming to Christ. It may take several Christians working together to bring some people to Christ.
Not too long ago I baptized a man into Christ but I did not get Him to Jesus on my own. He first came to our services because someone from the congregation had invited him. After coming he met others who befriended him. Some gave him transportation, some took him to dinner. He was given some Bible materials to study and I asked him if he would like to study with me some more about Christ and His church. It wasn’t long until he was baptized into Christ. It took all of us working together to help get this soul to Jesus.
Think about your own conversion to Christ and how many influenced you to make your decision to become a Christian. Rarely is it just one person who is totally responsible in bringing someone to Jesus. It takes us all doing what we can with what we have to efficiently and effectively win souls for Christ. Are you doing your part to win a soul for Jesus?
5. Invite them to Bible class, worship or other church activities. When is the last time you invited someone to Bible class, worship or another church activity? If you have already introduced them to some of the church members they will feel more comfortable visiting the church because they already know some of the members. They may be more apt to attend a special activity that interests them (e.g. Christian Evidence, Family, Financial Seminars) or meeting with a smaller group than coming to our regular services. You will never know if someone will come until you ask them.
Look what happened when Paul and Barnabas were preaching in Antioch of Pisidia (Acts 13:42-44). From that first Sabbath to the next something happened because “on the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God”. Somebody had been doing some advertising. People will come if we will invite them.
There are many ways to invite others. You may visit, call, mail, email, text, use social media. The best invitation is a personal one. Don’t be afraid to give more than one invitation. Most of us need to be reminded and urged to do things. Use “We appreciate your service” cards, postcards, church invitations, flyers or brochures. Take advantage of every opportunity to reach out to others for Christ.
Holidays, like Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mother’s & Father’s Day, are good times to invite others. Your personal sincere invitation may help win a soul for Jesus!
6. Share with them the gospel of Christ. To win a soul for Jesus you must share with them the gospel of Christ. This is where a lot of Christians get really scared. “I am afraid to say anything? I don’t know what to say? What if they ask me a question I can’t answer? What if I say the wrong thing?”
Let me say that I completely understand those feelings. I have felt the same way before and sometimes still have those feelings. There have been times when I wished I had said something but did not. There have been times when I said something I wished I had not. I have tried to learn from those mistakes and to do better in sharing Jesus with others.
In doing so, I have found that if people can see that you really care, they are able to overlook your mistakes. Also, I realize that the power of the gospel is not dependent upon us always doing everything just right. “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). Yes, we are weak, fragile vessels of clay but the power is of God!
So, here are a few ways to help you in sharing the gospel with others: 1) Bring them to someone who is able to share the message such as a preacher or teacher. 2) Use the Jule Miller DVDs, the World Video Bible School DVDs such as “Searching For Truth” or some other of the many Bible teaching tools available. 3) Just share your story of salvation with them. You know how you were saved. Tell others about it. You may want to use two simple passages: 1) 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 which reminds us of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ by which we are saved. 2) Romans 6:1-11 which explains how the sinner is put to death and given new life when he is baptized into Christ.
Speak to others about the good news of salvation and you may win a soul for Jesus! “And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed and therefore I spoke,’ we also believe and therefore speak” (2 Corinthians 4:13).
7. After baptizing them into Christ, teach them and help them grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. This is what we are commanded (2 Pet. 3:18). You may use WVBS materials, other aids or just study the Bible and pray together. Bring another Christian along with you to each of these sessions so that they can get to know others in the congregation.
8. Help them to reach out to others and make disciples, too. Remember we are to make disciples who make disciples (Mat. 28:19). New converts usually have a newfound zeal to tell others of Christ. They haven’t yet learned from us that it can’t be done or to be afraid. They will know many others who are not Christians. They may be able to reach some for Christ that the rest of us cannot.
A Promise It is a simple but powerful promise from Jesus in Matthew 28:20, “I am with you always.” It is in this promise that we find the courage and comfort to do what we are afraid to do! When sharing Jesus, we are not alone. The Master Evangelist is at our side. No matter what, He is there (Heb. 13:5-6).
As Christians, we are to join hands with God in the greatest work on earth as “God’s fellow workers” (1 Cor. 3:9).
A Prayer Read Colossians 4:2-4. Let us pray for one another, for open doors, for boldness to speak as we ought to speak.
I love this little prayer song I learned years ago, entitled “Lead Me To Some Soul Today”.
"Lead me to some soul today; O teach me, Lord, just what to say; Friends of mine are lost in sin, And cannot find their way. Few there are who seem to care, And few there are who pray; Melt my heart and fill my life: Give me one soul today."
I am praying that our efforts will result in many souls for Jesus to the glory of God. May God be with us as we strive to help each other and all others towards heaven!