The Church's Purpose to Love People
Is Expressed Through Outreach
Helping Others Get to Know God and Put Him First
The Priority of Outreach:
- God's precept: go and make disciples (Matt. 28:18-20)
- God's purpose: to seek and save the lost (Lk. 19:10)
- God's patience: not wanting anyone to perish (2 Pet. 3:9)
- God's passion: compassion toward the lost (Matt. 9:36-38; 23:37)
Since man's fall in the Garden of Eden, God has been providing for the salvation of lost people (Gen. 3:21), culminating in the substitutionary death of His Son, Jesus Christ (Jn. 3:16). Even in the great tribulation of the end times God will repeatedly look for people to repent (Rev. 9:20-21; 16:9,11; 2 Pet. 3:9).
If reaching out to the lost is God's heart and mission, should it not be our's as well? Let's avail ourselves of resources, some of which are found below, to assist us in reaching out to the lost.
The Program for Outreach:
- Elements: fishing for men (Mk. 1:17); being ambassadors (2 Cor. 5:18-20); making disciples (Matt. 28:19)
- Emphasis: Christ, not ourselves (2 Cor. 4:5); process, not an event (1 Thess. 2:1-11)
- Empowerment: Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8); prayer (for ourselves - Eph. 6:18-20; Col. 4:4 for opportunities - Col. 4:2-3; 2 Thess. 3:1; for the lost - Rom. 10:1; for more workers - Matt. 9:37-38); some have gift of evangelism (Eph. 4:11)
- Energy: moved by love (2 Cor. 5:14); a passion toward the lost (Rom. 9:3; Ps. 126:5-6); place value on individuals (Lk. 15:1-10)
- Entrustment: a stewardship requiring we be faithful (2 Tim. 4:5; 1 Cor. 4:1-2); based on grace not our merit (Eph. 3:8-9)
- Evidence: life backs up words (2 Cor. 6:3-10; 1 Thess. 2:4-12; 1 Pet. 3:16)
- Expansion: from immediate sphere of influence outward (Acts 1:8)
If we are going to effectively evangelize, we must do it God's way. Our task is to be faithful in what He asks us to do. The results are up to Him. Let's not rely on "our" prepackaged programs but rather on God who does the saving and who brings the growth.
Matt. 16:13-17 - ... for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.
Matt. 19:16-26 - ... 'Who then can be saved?' ... 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'
Jn. 6:44 - No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him ...
Rom. 1:16-17 - ...the gospel ... is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes ...
1 Cor. 3:7 - So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
The Process for Outreach:
- answer (2 Tim. 4:2-5; 1 Pet. 3:15)
- be a light (Matt. 5:14-16)
- be the salt (Matt. 5:13)
- declare (1 Pet. 2:9)
- implore (2 Cor. 5:18-20)
- persuade (2 Cor. 5:11)
- preach, proclaim, herald (2 Tim. 4:2)
- teach (Matt. 28:20)
- testify (2 Tim. 1:8)
There are a variety of approaches that can be used in sharing Christ with others. The best approach is the one that meets the individual where he/she is. This is part of what the Apostle Paul meant when he said, "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some" (1 Cor. 9:19-23).
We should not get so hung up on a set method that we lose sight of the fact that "the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power" (1 Cor. 4:20) --God's power. If someone gets saved, it is not because of us but because of God. He may use what we do but ultimately He does the work.
Possibly more important than the actual method we use is the way we use it. We must exercise gentleness and respect even when opposed, without quarreling (2 Tim. 2:14, 23-26; 1 Pet. 3:1-2, 16). The Word of God is what brings conviction, not us (Rom. 10:17).
The Product of Outreach:
- disciples made (Matt. 28:19)
- fellowship made possible with those who believe (1 Jn. 1:3)
- glory to God (2 Cor. 4:15)
God initiated the concept of sowing and reaping which also applies to evangelism (Jn. 4:35-38). Some will reap what others have sown. A person's salvation is usually the result of the testimony of many people and events. Whatever your part ... preparing the soil by building relationships, sowing the seed by being the one to share the Word, nurturing the seed that has been planted, or reaping that which has been sown ... know that you have made an investment into eternity.
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