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Personal Evangelism, Jesus Style

By Stephen Blandino | Posted In Ministry Tools

During World War II, Desmond Doss joined the military and trained as a medic. But what set Doss apart was his refusal to carry a weapon. It was a personal religious conviction, and despite the ridicule he received from other soldiers, Doss wouldn’t waiver in his stance.

That conviction was tested in April 1945, when Doss and his fellow soldiers fought the Battle of Okinawa. To win, they would have to gain a Japanese stronghold on top of Hacksaw Ridge, a 400-foot cliff.

The fighting grew fierce. The bodies of the fallen were strewn across the field. Many soldiers were badly wounded. Ignoring his battalion order to retreat, Doss courageously ran into the kill zone — without a weapon. He carried a soldier to the edge of the cliff, and with a makeshift rope gurney, lowered him to safety.

Over the next 12 hours, Doss kept returning to rescue more soldiers. When the battle was over, he had saved 75 men. Doss received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions, When someone later asked Doss how he found the strength to continue this 12-hour mission, his answer was simple but profound. Each time, Doss prayed, “Lord, just help me get one more.”

As church leaders, we are engaged in the mission of Jesus to save the spiritually lost. We are also responsible for equipping other leaders to do the same. Simply put, we have a responsibility to model the way and inspire the way. We must model personal evangelism, and we must inspire and equip others to do the same.

Here are 10 essential elements for effective evangelism:

1. The Spirit: Walk in His power. After 40 days of fasting and praying in the wilderness, “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14). At that moment, Jesus began His ministry.

Similarly, Jesus told His disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

We must help our congregations understand the Holy Spirit as an indispensable partner in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

2. Compassion: Be moved by the need. The spirit of evangelism requires a spirit of compassion. If you don’t see the need, you won’t be moved to do anything about it. Matthew 9:36 says that when Jesus saw the crowds, “he had compassion on them.”

We too should model compassion to the lost and hurting, and prioritize compassionate ministry through our churches.

3. Prayer: Focus on the spiritually lost. Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:37-38).

Our prayers are often confined to personal needs and the church’s biggest challenges. These words of Jesus remind us to pray for those who are spiritually lost, and to focus on the gospel mission.

4. Opportunity: Move past the barriers. Jesus wasn’t afraid to reach people others saw as unreachable. That’s exactly what He did in John 4. Jesus went through Samaria, a region Jews normally avoided. And He spoke to a Samaritan woman, which was culturally forbidden.

Where others saw barriers and cultural divides, Jesus saw an opportunity to share the gospel. We can follow Jesus’ example by taking the good news to people and places others overlook.

5. Connection: Do unto others. Too often in evangelism we focus on correcting people rather than connecting with them. Jesus addressed the tendency to correct when He said, “Do not judge” (Matthew 7:1). Then Jesus gave us the ultimate key to connecting: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12).

The Golden Rule set the tone for connecting with people. It’s also the foundational principle for sharing the gospel with credibility.

Life-changing moments often come in the form of interruptions.

Let’s emphasize connecting with lost people over correcting them, and encourage our church members to do the same.

6. Salt: Become a preserver. Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). Salt preserves, adds flavor, and creates thirst. Each quality should mark our lives as leaders.

We are preservers in society when helping prevent moral decay. We add flavor to our world by meeting needs, solving problems, and demonstrating Christ’s love. And we create thirst for righteousness in others when our lives reflect the peace, hope and joy of the Lord.

God calls us to be salt in this world, and to equip our congregations to do the same.

7. Light: Share hope. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14).

Light isn’t something you keep to yourself. Neither is the gospel. Our job isn’t to change hearts, but to share the light of God’s truth.

We should pray regularly for people who don’t know Christ and invest in genuine relationships with them. As we do, they may become curious about our faith and engage in spiritual conversations. When this happens, it’s a great opportunity to invite people to church or to follow Jesus.

God is looking for leaders who are willing to move beyond the walls of the church to be light to hurting people in dark places.

8. House: Find your platform. After Jesus described His followers as “salt” and “light,” He said, “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house” (Matthew 5:15).

Your “house” might be your job, community, kids’ soccer team, or the school board. God has called you to be salt and light in your “house” — in the place and with the people where He has given you influence.

Ministry leaders have the privilege of helping people identify their “house” where God has given them influence so they can be on mission with Jesus.

9. Interruptions: Make them count. Interruptions can be opportunities for the gospel to show up in unexpected places at unexpected times. Jesus paid attention to these “divine interruptions,” such as when a synagogue leader named Jairus interrupted Him with a request to come to his house and heal his daughter (Mark 5:23).

As Jesus went with Jairus, another interruption occurred when a woman who had been suffering from a physical condition for 12 years touched Jesus and experienced healing. Jesus stopped, waited for the woman to identify herself, and then spoke words of life to her (Mark 5:30-34).

Afterward, Jesus continued with Jairus to heal his daughter. Jesus wasn’t aggravated by these interruptions; instead, He turned them into ministry moments.

Life-changing moments often come in the form of interruptions. Don’t overlook the chance to point people to the truth of the gospel.

10. Willingness: Embrace the journey. Jesus said to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19). The word “go” is better interpreted as “in your going.” In other words, “go” is not a destination, but rather an evangelism posture.

In your going — whether you’re going to work, school, the grocery store, or a business meeting — be about the mission of Jesus.

The Great Commission is for all believers. We must communicate the urgency of this evangelistic call to the people we lead.

These 10 principles will help leaders in your church embrace and cultivate a habit of personal evangelism. Furthermore, these principles will equip leaders to be on mission with Jesus as they present the hope of the gospel to a hurting world.

In the January-March 2021 edition of Make It Count, we’ve turned these principles into 10 leadership lessons you can use to equip the leaders in your congregation and cultivate a stronger evangelism culture. Find these downloadable lessons (in English and Spanish) here.

This article appears in the January-March 2021 edition of Influence magazine.