Go Fish: Effective Evangelism

Go Fish: Effective Evangelism

This morning, we continue our message series “Go Fish” learning about evangelism; sharing the good news about Jesus. 

There are countless ways to lead people to Jesus.  The news about who Jesus is, what He has done for us, and the salvation that He freely offers us can be communicated in so many creative ways!  There are movies, TV series, musicals, plays, studies, books, skits, websites, blogs, podcasts, TikTok clips, and so much more that tell people the good news about Jesus. 

Some of us were created with bold and loud and social personalities.  Some can walk up to a perfect stranger as if though they’ve known them for years and talk to them about anything.  They are surrounded by people often and have no reservations inviting people into their homes or out to social events.  The type who doesn’t take “No” for an answer and will even answer on your behalf. 

Some of us were created with reserved and quiet and reclusive personalities.  Some prefer to be alone at home and don’t at all like to be surrounded by crowds.  They have a few friends, but those relationships usually go very deep.  The type who have to really work up the courage before asking anyone anything. 

Both personality types can still effectively share the good news about Jesus with others.  God knows who we are and who were created to be.  Sure, He may call us out of our comfort zones at times, but He generally has a purpose behind our personalities. 

Evangelism for the extrovert looks like this: 

Luke 14:23 

Go out again, into the highways and country lanes and this time bring them all back with you. Persuade the beggars on the streets, the outcasts, even the homeless. Insist that they come in and enjoy the feast so that my house will be full. 

Evangelism for the introvert often looks like this: 

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 

11 …make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. 

Regardless of our personality type, we are all called to reach people with the good news about God’s salvation! 

Evangelism has two aspects.  The first is to communicate the bad news about our sin and the cost of it, but more importantly, the good news about who Jesus is and the salvation that He freely offers us.  The second is to extend the invitation for people to receive His salvation. 

An important thing to remember is that the results are not up to us.  No one can be bullied or tricked or argued into Heaven.  Salvation requires understanding and a voluntary choice for someone to surrender their lives to Jesus. 

We are responsible to tell people about Jesus and invite them to receive His salvation, but that decision is up to them.  Remember that even Jesus, God in the flesh, only had about 120 people following Him as His disciples immediately after His death and resurrection. 

He had reached countless people during His earthly ministry; tens of thousands at a time!  He healed them and delivered them and taught them and ministered to them.  Crowds and entire towns would come to hear and see Him.  Some denied and rejected Him altogether.  Some received what they wanted from Him and then continued living their lives.  A few chose to follow Him. 

Jesus was perfect and sinless.  To see Him was to see God, the Father, in person.  Jesus displayed the power and authority of His Kingdom over all of creation in undeniable ways.  And yet, even He, was not able to convince everyone to willingly follow Him. 

The results are not up to us, but the responsibility to freely give what we have freely received is on us.  In fact, when Jesus sent 72 of His disciples out ahead of Him into the towns that He was travelling to, He told them: 

Luke 10:16 

“Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” 

Don’t take it personally if you invite someone to receive Jesus’ salvation and they decline to receive it.  It’s not about you, that’s between them and Jesus.  That also doesn’t mean that they won’t receive it later on, either. 

Referring to the good news about Jesus, Paul wrote: 

1 Corinthians 3:6-9 

6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service 

Regardless of the method used to “go fish” for people, there are a few things that apply to them all that we can do to be effective in our evangelism. 

– Pray 

The absolute number one thing that we must do is to pray! 

Jesus said that: 

John 6:44 

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them 

If no one can come to Jesus unless God, the Father, draws them to Him, then this must be where all evangelism begins.  It must begin with us praying that the Heavenly Father would draw the lost around us to Him.  Otherwise, everything else that we do to try and reach them will be in vain. 

We not only pray for the lost and that the Father would draw them to Jesus, but we also must pray that He would also send people to reach them. 

Matthew 9:35-38 

35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” 

Of course, as we’re praying for the Lord to send people to reach the lost, we must also be willing to say like Isaiah, “Lord,  Here I am. Send me!”   

Paul often requested prayer for effective evangelism.  Prayer prepares the way for the gospel! 

Colossians 4:2-6 

2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. 

Engaging in evangelism is spiritual warfare!  Don’t think that the devil will just sit back and allow you to steal away people from heading to hell along with him!  However, greater is the Holy Spirit within us than anything else!  Still, while we are snatching people out of the devil’s hands, we should pray for protection and perseverance for ourselves and others who are working alongside of us. 

2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 

1 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. 2 And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. 4 We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. 

– Fight Right 

It is for this very reason that we also much watch ourselves as we are praying so that we fight the good fight where the battle truly lies and not to fight with the person.  Our battle for people’s souls is spiritual and they are simply caught in the cross-fire.   

It is truth expressed with gentleness and actions that we do expressing loving-kindness that will draw people to repentance.  Fighting and arguing will only further harden hearts toward Jesus! 

2 Timothy 2:23-26 

23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. 

We fight, but our fight is against the stronghold that the enemy has on the lost that is keeping them held as his captives! 

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 

3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 

Again, our fight is in the spiritual realm and not against flesh and blood according to Ephesians 6.  We demolish strongholds in the heavenly realm, but in the natural realm, we gently instruct.   We hold nothing back in the spiritual realm while praying and interceding for them alone in our prayer closet.  When we’re with them, we patiently watch for opportunities and kindly speak whatever the Spirit leads us to say.  We’re as shrewd and ruthless as a snake and as innocent and gentle as a dove (Matthew 10:16). 

We guard ourselves as to not insult or offend them and further tighten the grip that the enemy has on them. 

Proverbs 18:19 (NCV) 

A brother who has been insulted is harder to win back than a walled city, and arguments separate people like the barred gates of a palace. 

Romans 2:4 (NCV) 

God has been very kind and patient, waiting for you to change, but you think nothing of his kindness. Perhaps you do not understand that God is kind to you so you will change your hearts and lives. 

It is the good news about God’s undeserved kindness and goodness and mercy and grace and patience poured out on us while we are still sinning against Him that softens a hardened heart and turns us to Him.  All of these and more are the result of God’s unfailing love. 

We fight the kingdom of darkness by loving the unlovable.  That’s exactly what Jesus did and it is what He still does through us!  This is how we perfectly represent God to the lost around us! 

Matthew 5:43-48 

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. 

We can do everything else to reach the lost around us, but if we are not genuinely loving them, then all that we do will be in vain. 

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 

Jesus said: 

John 13:34-35 

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” 

It is God’s love flowing in and overflowing through us that will show everyone around us that we are disciples of Jesus.  It is God’s love that will draw the lost to Him.  It is God’s love the prepares people to receive His salvation. 

There is a fight, but our fight is not AGAINST the lost, but FOR the lost!  We are on a rescue mission!  Seek and save the lost!  Go straight into the enemy’s camp and take them back home!  Fight the good fight and fight the right fight! 

– Use Your Gifts 

What caused the good news about Jesus to be so quickly and widely spread? 

The miracles which He performed! 

Healing incurable diseases, raising the dead, casting out demons, feeding thousands, and more.  These miracles are what caused the people to talk and the crowds to gather.  These miracles were the result of Jesus simply putting His gifts to use to serve the needs of those He was sent to save. 

Jesus is still a miracle worker.  Only now, He works through you and I; His disciples.  After He rose again from the grave, He sent the baptism of the Holy Spirit to empower us to be His witnesses wherever we go.  When speaking ahead to this outpouring, Jesus said: 

John 14:12 

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 

It’s easy to focus on the miracle-producing gifts that give us the power and ability to heal the sick, cast out demons, and raise the dead.  However, all giftings are valued by God and by those benefiting from them.  Something that one of us takes for granted every day is someone else’s life-transforming miracle. 

Peter wrote: 

1 Peter 4:7-11 

7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 

Whatever God has gifted you to do, be a faithful steward of it.  Use your gifts to serve the needs of those around you.  Don’t minimize the value of your giftings and abilities and the resources available to you!  View them as God’s grace, just in various forms. 

When Jesus sent the twelve disciples out into the world ahead of Him, He said: 

Matthew 10:7-8 

7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. 

Freely you have received; freely give. 

When the church first began in the book of Acts, this is exactly how they lived and how they viewed their own lives. 

Acts 4:32-35 

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. 

God’s grace powerfully at work among us all because we choose to be one in heart and mind; not claiming anything our own, but sharing everything. 

It is not an accident that you are who you are. 

It is not an accident that you are where you are. 

God has a purpose behind it. 

You are exactly who God needs. 

You have exactly what God needs you to have. 

Allow Him to open your eyes to the need around you. 

Allow Him to reveal to you the gifts and resources available to you. 

Then, allow Him to work through you to be the connection between the resource and the need. 

That’s exactly what Jesus did throughout His earthly ministry. 

That’s exactly what Abraham and Moses and Daniel and Elijah and Elishah and Paul and Peter and John and anyone and everyone else who has ever done anything of significance in God’s Kingdom has ever done.  Freely received and freely given. 

John 3:27-30 (TPT) 

27 John answered them, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless God bestows it.   

28 You’ve heard me tell you that I am not the Messiah, but certainly I am the messenger sent ahead of him.  

29 He is the Bridegroom, and the bride belongs to him. I am the friend  of the Bridegroom who stands nearby and listens with great joy to the Bridegroom’s voice.  

Because of his words, my joy is complete and overflows!  

30 It is necessary for him to increase and for me to decrease. 

Like John the Baptist, we are ones who are empowered simply to prepare the way for Jesus.  We are His witnesses; His servants.  We introduce people to Jesus and invite them to receive His salvation.  Then, we must decrease and Jesus must increase in their lives as He has in our own. 

To effectively seek and save the lost with the good news about Jesus, we pray, we fight right, and we use our gifts to serve.  We remember that to extend the invitation to follow Jesus is our responsibility.  Their choice of whether to accept or decline that invitation is not ours, but theirs.   

Keep praying, keep fighting the good fight, and keep serving others in love!