“The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;” Matthew 13
Many of you know and understand the parable of the sower as a simple story used to illustrate a spiritual lesson. In this case the lesson was about how different people react to the Gospel. Some never hear it, some quickly accept Christ, but fail to grow in the Lord and give up on the faith at the first adversity. Still others get together with the wrong crowed and their faith is choked out of them through sin. Others find their faith, start studying the Bible and grow in their faith.
That being said, let me tell you about some of the things I learned this week. First, how do you get people to commit to learning the Gospel and then following through with a profession of faith, Bible study, discipleship, growth, and then spreading the seed of the Gospel themselves. If you’re thinking – Invite them to church, or go door to door preaching, or by handing out tracts – you’re wrong. These things simply don’t work, according to those that have seen thousands, tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands come to the saving knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus.
So, what does work? You must go out into the community and make friends, help people, invest in their lives, love them, care for them and pray for them. Okay, and what are some of the ways you can do that?
1. One-on-one contact with neighbors – not to invite them to church, but by just being their friend, being neighborly. After you have cultivated a friendship, invite them to your home or a small group get together – no more than 10 people meeting to share a few quick verses, discussion and fellowship. Allow them to speak and share, and love them through that fellowship with listening ears in a safe zone without judgement, gossip or backbiting.
2. Bible studies where a small group of 10 or less are gathered and a few verses are shared and then you ask 4 questions that I borrowed from Dr. John DeVries. 1. What do you like in this passage? 2. What don’t you like or don’t understand about the passage? 3. What did you learn about God? 4. What should you do? These 4 question open people up to conversations and give them a voice as they learn more about God.
3. Pray for people! Not just passively, but with power and specificity. What are their specific needs? Find out from them, by first developing a relationship of trust, and then pray for them – right then and there – then continue to pray for them. Be specific and be faithful to pray often and continually until the prayer is answered, whether the answer is yes or no. Faithfully pray.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what I learned this week. I would need to write a huge paper if I wanted to share it all, but these are some of the highlights. As Dr. DeVies stated about in his ministry, “Project Phillip” you must “Sow, Go and Grow” those you share the Gospel with. This type of evangelism results in new people eventually visiting and staying in your church and then discipling others – sowing the seed, going to where people are and helping them grow. His ministry can be found at https://www.bibleleague.org/what-we-do/project-philip as part of Bible League International at https://www.bibleleague.org. I had a great week of learning at Christian Leaders Institute https://moodle.christianleadersinstitute.org. The Church Ministry course was exceptional and free.