I am busy visiting one of our churches in Sweden where we are trying to re-vitalize the church as well as reach out with the Good News of Jesus Christ. I have been given the privilege of presenting a series of four lectures around the theme of marriage and relationships targeted at spiritually interested people. While a great deal of preparation and prayers have been built around the meetings I am convinced that the most effective way to win people for Christ is by encouraging followers of Christ to start building meaningful relationships with unchurched people.
In order to do this effectively we need to become involved in the lives and interests of unchurched people. According to Ellen White “Christ’s method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, “Follow Me” (See Ellen White, Ministry of Healing p 143). I believe more than ever these words of wisdom to be true for our time and context. Today I want to talk about how to use your personal story, also known as your testimony, and you how you can actually lead a person to Christ.
According to the George Barna Research group approximately 95% of Christians have never led another person to Christ. In fact many Christians feel that they are not gifted as evangelists and very often lack the confidence and tools to share the gospel. While this may be true, the Bible makes it very clear that every believer is called to evangelize. While the whole idea of evangelism may seem daunting and even overwhelming I would like to suggest a possible way forward that is both practical and workable.
In response to the question, “How do we fulfill the Great Commission?” let me suggest that instead of becoming overwhelmed by the enormity of the task that we break it down into smaller workable units – that we see it as a process involving many small steps that lead to success. Let us take a closer look at the Great Commission. In Mark's Gospel, we have a variation on this Great Commission: “And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). In other words go into your workplace, your school, your family, your sphere of influence and share your testimony, your personal story of what Christ has done in your life.
While this is all good and well what are we to do specifically to share the gospel? Let's go back to Matthew 28:19–20 and re-read the same Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Simply put, I believe Matthew is suggesting that we do this specifically by teaching people to observe what God has commanded. Practically it means to live out our faith in this world, and also to share it with others – to teach it by word and model it by example. In other words the full concept of “going into all the world and making disciples” is to share our faith (our personal testimony, the word of God), to seek to lead people to Christ, and then to help them mature spiritually to the best of our ability (we call this discipleship).
In closing, Colossians 1:28 says, “We proclaim Christ! We warn everyone we meet, and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about Him, This we do that we may bring every man to his full maturity in Christ.” I love the term “full maturity in Christ” because ultimately our goal is to help people to grow in Christ-likeness by gently leading them through a discipleship process and it all starts with your personal story, your testimony.
Just remember: Evangelizing and discipling not only changes others, but more importantly it changes you! Are you interested in radical change?
Challenge: Today, let's look for opportunities to “go into all of our world” and preach, teach and live the gospel.