How many times have we heard about the latest thing that will lead thousands to Christ? It is easy to be influenced by a culture which is convinced that “newer” or “bigger” is invariably better – so why not the newest mass-market approach to evangelism? Years ago we were told that the secret of success in taking the world for Christ was a radio program or a city-wide campaign or a series of filmstrips or a set of flip charts. Today the trend is toward the latest book, video, movie or billboard. It’s tempting to allow our fascination with the newest and biggest to determine how we are going to reach out to others with the gospel.
However, if you examine the examples of New Testament evangelism and successful efforts in evangelism today, you might begin to have real doubts about the effectiveness of such large-scale efforts. The churches that are growing are those that are getting back to basics and stressing personal connections to those who are around them. A number of studies and surveys on evangelism have shown that as high as ninety percent of all conversions are directly related to a personal invitation from a family member, neighbor, or fellow worker.
Jesus urged His followers to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matt 28:19-20) Even though the command was given to the select group of His chosen followers, none should doubt that Jesus wants all Christians to be involved in this process. All of us can use whatever talents God has given us to serve one another and help the message of the gospel reach those who are lost. Do you have a friend or a relative with whom you can build a relationship of interest in spiritual matters? For it is these kinds of relationships that provide the context in which people are most likely to listen to the gospel.
When you became a Christian, you already knew enough to tell someone else why you did what you did. You may not have been able to answer all of their questions and bring them to the point of conversion, but you at least could bring them one step closer to understanding the way that Jesus provides. And perhaps you could then connect them with someone else who could take the study further. In this way, all of us can work together in leading those who are lost to Christ and salvation.
In John 1:40-46, we find an effective pattern for sharing good news with others. Andrew finds the Messiah and then goes in search for his brother, Peter, and “He brought him to Jesus” (verse 42). The scriptures don’t reveal anything else about Andrew’s work in the years following, but whatever was accomplished by the apostle Peter began with that one simple invitation extended by Andrew. Continuing in John 1, we read of Jesus’ invitation of “Follow Me” given to Philip (verse 43). Philip then seeks out and invites a skeptical Nathanael to “Come and see.”
Many years ago, I was invited to come preach one Sunday at a small church in central Texas. There were only four members with 3 children, but one of the members had invited her friend to come hear the “visiting preacher.” The friend became interested and by the end of the day had asked my wife and I if we could study with her and some of her family. We returned the next week to find that she had invited her brother and his wife to the study. After studying with them, we were privileged to baptize both her brother and sister-in-law into Christ. This sparked some interest in the friend’s husband, so we returned and studied with him and he too obeyed the gospel. Soon after this, the husband was talking to a coworker during lunch one day, and they had a conversation about the Bible and the recent events that had taken place at the small church. The husband asked his coworker if he would be interested in studying. After several studies with the coworker, he also obeyed the gospel. This led to a study with the coworker’s wife who also was soon baptized into Christ. Then the husband and coworker were talking one day at work and another employee overheard their conversation. She expressed some interest which led to a study with her and soon another soul was added to the body of Christ. By the end of a year, that little group had grown to 23 adults with 28 children. And it all began because someone had asked her friend to “Come and see.”
Over the years there have been numerous aids and schemes to help disciples in the area of personal evangelism. Some of them have been quite effective, depending on the person that is using them. I have experimented with film strips, charts, outlines and presentations. But what has worked best for me is sitting down at the table with another person, getting to know them and where they are spiritually, and then opening up a Bible between us to help them find the answers to their questions.
Let me emphasize that it will not be our programs, our advertising, the latest book, newest DVD or amazing movie that will lead the world to Christ. It will be the light of God’s power as seen in our lives and in the relationships that we develop with others. We must have a burden on our hearts continually over lost souls that we encounter on a daily basis. We must be praying for their salvation and doing something in the interest of those souls. Let’s remember the words of Jesus in Luke 10:2 — “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Who knows what good you might accomplish through a simple invitation of “Come and see”?