When it comes to reach, I have witnessed all sorts of ways to motivate people to share the Gospel. Perhaps you have heard some or all of them, too.
1. Which one of the following works for you, which one repels you, and why?
Statistical Sledgehammer: This approach uses statistics to drive home the point, like “2% share their faith with unbelievers.”
Hell Horror Show: This approach points to the truth of Hell, and that forever is a really long time, and do you want your friends and family to suffer that?
Positive Punch: This is the flip side of the Hell Horror Show, as one points to the truth of Heaven and Jesus making all things new.
Command Cruncher: The Bible tells us to share our faith because we must, in order to live a life of obedience to Christ.
Wonder Whip: Because of the amazing love of God, we should tell others about Jesus.
Guilty Grump: It is the use of any means or story to make you feel so small and guilty, you will need an electron microscope to be found.
Herculean Hero: It is the use of any means or story to show how people have heard and come to know Christ. You probably get an equally large anxiety attack thinking you are not capable.
At one time or another, I did them all, was guilted by them all, and often felt empty by them. Truthfully, the Bible includes them all as well. Getting people to serve is often easy, but getting people to reach is a challenge. I noticed this more and more, ever since I was seven.
2. Why is reaching people often allusive to God’s people?
3. Are you feeling guilty, anxious, or motivated about reaching people at this point?
A mentor once said to me as a teenager, “You cannot give what you don’t have.” Let us set aside all the emotions you and I have that come along with reaching people. In our time digging into Scripture, let us see what it takes to reach people for Jesus. The Bible describes many things we need to have. We will look at a few of them: Good soil, the right vine, a good power source, and compassion.
The parable of the soils is a well-known story told by Jesus. There are four types of soil given. Only one is really good, bearing much fruit. Read Luke 8:9-15.
Our church’s vision separates reach and grow. This is helpful in our desire to share the Gospel with the whole world. In this parable, grow is directly related to reach. Read Luke 8:15 again. If we are not sharing the Gospel, our growth plan is not working. To bear much fruit, we must have good soil.
4. How do we get planted in good soil?
The Right Vine
In John chapter 15, Jesus gives us a beautiful picture of a vine and a vinedresser. There are two key ideas in His illustration. First, we need to bear much fruit. Second, Jesus is the one who does the work. Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing. The key is abiding in Jesus. Read John 15:4-5.
(Before and after these verses, Jesus warns us that branches that do not bear fruit will be tossed away. This is not teaching that we lose our salvation as Romans 8:38-39 makes it clear that nothing can. However, there is an expectation that we bear fruit. God can call us home to Heaven a little early.)
5. To reach people, we must have Jesus. How do we abide in Jesus?
One of the Growth Communities I was a part of loved bacon. That year my house constantly smelled of bacon, and it never got old. When you cook lots of bacon, the smell is everywhere. It permeates everything. It smells good, tastes good, brings delight, and is everywhere present. You could say, “Bacon abides in my house.” When the Bible says to abide in Jesus, think bacon. We need to be so connected (abiding) in Jesus that when people see us, Jesus stands out. Like bacon, abiding in Jesus brings joy (“… that your joy may be full!” John 15:11).
A Good Power Source
In helping a friend move an office, there came the time to turn the computer back on. It did not work. We went through everything, and everything was plugged in, except for the power strip. To operate, the computer needed to be plugged into the right power source. We must have the right power source to reach people. That would be the Holy Spirit. Read Romans 8:12-17.
Romans chapter 8 is in the middle of Paul’s beautiful explanation of the Gospel; he boldly states, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel” (Romans 1:16). Part of the Gospel is how we reach people and live. Without the Gospel, and hence without the Spirit, we are stuck (Romans 7). The term Paul used is being in the flesh. Being in Christ, we have the gift of the Spirit, and as such, “we are more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37). If we are in Christ, hence in the Spirit, we should be led by the Spirit.
The Spirit is a mysterious part of being a Christian. Jesus understood that we would have some trouble explaining the Spirit. In John 3:8, He says, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”What we do know is when we trust in Jesus death, burial, and resurrection, we get the Spirit. We also get a choice to live according to the Spirit, or according to the flesh. The difference is being intentional with how we live as Christians.
6. How are you “plugged in to” the Spirit? Are you listening to the Spirit, or ignoring Him?
Galatians 5:22-26 and Ephesians 5:15-24 are good “tests” to see if you are “plugged in” to the Spirit. This is where reach and gather connect in our vision.
In Mark chapter 6, Jesus is tired and in mourning. News just broke about His cousin, John the Baptist, who was murdered by the king. His disciples just returned back with reports about what they had done. To add to the tension, crowds in the book of Mark were described as a hindrance to Jesus’ ministry. He often told people not to share what He did in order to avoid crowds, but people could not keep their mouth shut about Jesus. Going away for a time of rest, a crowd formed, and the second greatest miracle in the Gospels occurs - the feeding of 5,000 (plus women and children). Read Mark 6:33-44.
7. Why did Jesus choose to have this incredible historical event happen?
How do we make reach happen? When I have felt guilty, empty, anxious, overwhelmed, or inadequate when being motivated to reach people with the Good News of Jesus, I found I forgot what I have. I have good soil for God’s Word to bear fruit. I have the right vine in Jesus, who does the work for me. I have the Spirit, God Himself, to lead and empower me. I have compassion because Jesus loved me. I want to love others, as well. If you are saved, you have these things too!
When we realize what we have:
Statistical Sledgehammer becomes an opportunity.
Hell Horror Show builds compassion.
Positive Punch stokes up excitement.
Command Cruncher becomes a way to show love.
Wonder Whip becomes joy and delight.
Guilty Grump reminds us to get in the game!
Herculean Hero reminds us of what God can do if we follow Him!
So, realizing what we have, read Matthew 28:19-20 and answer the following:
8. Who is the Spirit leading you to reach?
9. How can your Growth Community help you to reach them?