by Robert J. Young
A catchy phrase of several years ago observed that "people must be sought, brought, caught, taught, and bought by the precious blood of Jesus--otherwise our efforts are for naught!" If this is true, the church must be involved in seeking, bringing, catching, and teaching those who will be purchased by the blood of Jesus (Acts. 20:28). I was reminded of this truth recently by a simple card I received from Herald of Truth. I have altered and expanded their acronym for this article.
People are not caught simply by chasing, grabbing, tackling, or any such overt action. Nor are people effectively caught by manipulation. People are caught when Christians consciously develop as a part of their lifestyles the mind and actions of Jesus Christ.
If we continue to look at growth and the Church we can see by example of the apostles that they too did not entertain, they taught. (Acts 5:42) "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." The apostles knew what they were commanded to do, because Christ told them. (Matthew 28:18-20) "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
Consider these characteristics of effective "catchers."
By the way, are you a caught person? Are you caught by the love of Jesus? Are you catching others?
- They CARE with CHRIST-LIKE COMPASSION about and for other people.
An old saw, but true: "People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care." Caring compassion seeks to meet needs. Caring compassion seeks to meet physical and emotional needs, but no genuine Christ-like compassion can be claimed until that compassion also notes and seeks solutions for the spiritual needs of lost souls. How can we say the love of God dwells in us when we see the eternal plight of others, and simply say "Be ye warmed and filled," without inquiring about or addressing spiritual realities? The greatest needs of most people in our world is not sustenance but salvation, not emotional but eternal. Many Christians could use a compassion checkup. How is your compassion? Is it like the compassion of Jesus, who looked upon multitudes without a Savior as helpless, hopeless, and homeless.
- They AFFIRM God's image and potential in ALL.
Affirming others is a rare gift. Many are those who can identify what is wrong with others, few know how to build and strengthen effectively. Have you ever known someone who seemed to automatically make you a better person? Chances are, that person knew and practiced the gift of affirmation.
Those who effectively surface souls in need of the Savior not only know the gift of affirmation, they use it in their relationships with all people. Most of us can affirm those who love, affirming those who are unloveable, those who cause us difficulties, and those who are undeserving is more difficult.
Let us not only see to cultivate the gift of affirmation, but let us commit to using that gift for all persons.
- They UNDERSTAND the UNIQUE challenges of culture and communication in telling about Jesus.
Seldom does one easily establish relationships and communications which provide the bridges across which the gospel message can travel. I must hear the message of Jesus through my own culture, experiences, and understandings. Each person is unique. There is no cookie-cutter evangelism method which works for all. Fortunately, the great need of the church at the beginning of the 21st century is not more methods but more motivation. When we are motivated by genuine love, compelled by the love of Christ, personal communicate is easier. Certainly there is value in studying culture and communication, but it is easier to meet people "on their own turf" than we might imagine when we get self out of the way and seek the good of others without trying to change every cultural thing about them. The gospel has saving power and lifestyle applications in every culture.
- They purposefully GUIDE people into the GRACE and ways of God's salvation.
I continue in amazement at the number who would touch others' lives but never mention the grace of God which saves through faith. Another older saying speaks of evangelism as "presence, proclamation, and persuasion." Certainly it is good when Christians live like Christians ought to live, and thereby bring the presence of Christ into a community or neighborhood. Seldom, however, is mere presence sufficient to convert a soul. Such may occur in obviously pagan settings, but seldom is presence enough.
Proclamation is necessary. The message of Jesus must be proclaimed and heard. This is preaching and teaching. Genuine conversion cannot occur without the proclamation of the message. Faith comes by hearing the message. Yet, mere proclamation will not suffice either. Churches must not think they have done all they can do simply because the gospel is preached in their pulpits Sunday after Sunday, even if unbelievers are present in the assembly (which they generally are not in many of our churches).
Persuasion is the key. One of the reasons that gospel meetings had such power in former times is that proclamation was occurring regularly in the lives of unbelievers, and the revivalist came in with great powers of persuasion. I have ministered in a church that experienced almost 50 baptisms in one year. The church averaged 30+ baptisms annually for several years. Almost without exception, those with whom we studied had to be persuaded to obey the gospel. Not all persuasion is equal, but persuasion is essential. This simply observation may explain why gospel meetings are not considered as effective as they once were. It is true that our culture is changing and that the method may be less effective than formerly. Equally valid, however, in many places is the observation that less gospel proclamation is occurring weekly as churches turn inward and preachers address a wide variety of self-help and spiritual growth topics of interest primarily to those already Christians. One might also observe that fewer genuinely persuasive preachers are among us with the unique power to communicate the intense need all have for the grace of God.
Effective evangelism workers purposefully and persuasively seek to guide people into the grace of God that brings salvation.
- They HELP others continue toward HEAVEN through obedience and service.
In many churches, new Christians frequently suffer from SIDS--sudden infant death syndrome. Babes in Christ must be nourished, tended, held, coddled, taught to walk, and assimilated into the body of Christ. The Great Commission mentions making, marking, and maturing disciples. Maturing disciples occurs when teaching continues after baptism. The church must not lose sight of the fact that churches grow when those caught are entangled so deeply in the web of fellowship, worship, and Christian support that they cannot help but go onward building on the foundations a life of maturity and service.
- They TEACH and TRAIN people with skills for life and ministry.
Not only must new Christians be encouraged to find avenues for continued obedience and service in the context of the local church, new Christians must develop new skills that equip for life and ministry. No one is saved only for self. We are saved to save others. Every saved person can find service in sharing the salvation experience. Saved people can surely tell others how they were saved. Unique skills and abilities are added to the body as people come to Jesus and the church grows. These skills enhance the life and ministry of an individual Christian, and also enhance the life and ministry of the church.
© 2001, Robert J. Young
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