Tag Archives: evangelism

Soul-Winning For Jesus: He Commanded Us To Do It — Steve Miller

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). From this classic text we learn: The gospel, good news is to be preached to every creature in every nation. There are conditions of faith and obedience that must be met to enjoy the blessings and promises of the gospel. Every Christian is to be involved in taking and teaching the gospel of Christ to every soul without Christ. They are to assist those who choose to obey Christ so that they too may be disciples of Christ who in turn teach the gospel to others (2 Tim. 2:2).

The apostle Paul relayed to the Ephesian elders his consistent work and message of the gospel to the lost: “…how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:20-21).

The command is clear (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-49) for Christians to teach others about Christ and His saving gospel (Rom. 6:1-18). Evangelism is to be public and private (Mark 16:15; Acts 2; 3:11-26; 8:5; 16:13-15).

The following points remind us of how we can assist others in coming to the Savior:

People must see Christ in us (Col. 1:27). The image and mark of Jesus must be evident in our words, actions and lifestyle. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29). This will present itself in the realm of kindness, mercy, compassion, sacrifice, benevolence and love. These Christ-like qualities help influence those around us in the nature of Christianity and offer a better way of living and hope.

People must hear Christ in us. Our speech has influence in teaching the lost and being Christ-like examples. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29). Our physical words as well as what we present on social media have a direct bearing on whether we are influencing for Christ. Some members’ media posts bring reproach upon the church and upon the Savior, closing doors to evangelism. We must do better knowing we will give an account of our words (Matt. 12:33-37; Col. 3:8).

People must infer Christ in us. Have you ever been accused of being with Christ? Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Can those with whom we associate and come into contact infer that we have spent time with our Lord in His teachings? Our mind must be in sync with His in order for us to live and practice true Christian living (1 Cor. 2:16). Our choices in what we do, where we go, who we are with, and how we act, all matter. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you” (1 Pet. 4:4).

People must turn from their sins. Repentance is the making up of one’s mind to cease doing evil and to do good, to stop serving Satan and begin serving God. It means to change directions (Jon. 3:10). The Lord tells us that our lives must change through our repentance (Luke 13:1-5). “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

People must turn to Christ. Those who are taught the gospel and receive it are those who submit to Christ by being immersed in water for the remission of their sins (Acts 8:37-38).

Finally, consider the example of the early church. They had a true passion for souls (Acts 5:42). As a result of this genuine concern for the lost, the church grew and expanded. Beginning with three thousand on Pentecost (Acts 2:41), the “number of men was about five thousand” (Acts 4:4), “believers were the more added to the Lord” (Acts 5:14) and “the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly” (Acts 6:7). There was a heartfelt motivation for the souls of men. Many of the pioneer preachers in this country manifested the same kind of evangelistic fire. It was not uncommon for entire churches to be converted from denominationalism to undenominational New Testament Christianity. Preachers stressed themes such as “What is our Plea?”, “The Cross of Christ,” “Authority in Religion,” and “What Must I Do to be Saved?” A pronounced emphasis upon book, chapter and verse encouraged people to study for themselves. As a result of this type of evangelistic, doctrinal preaching, and an emphasis on reaching the lost, churches of Christ enjoyed unprecedented growth.

What do we need?

We need a clear vision of the mission of the church. We cannot lose sight of the fact that the church is the body of Christ and that its mission is an extension of the work of Christ. “To seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10).

We need to practice personal involvement in the work of the church. Too many have fallen into the habit of, going, sitting, leaving, and forgetting. It becomes easy to criticize and speak of what THEY are doing or not doing. What about us? What are WE doing? After all, we are the church!

We must recognize the value of a soul (Matt. 16:26). Are we honoring the command of Jesus in the great commission in our individual lives?

Steve serves as one of the ministers of the Gold Hill Road congregation in Fort Mill, SC. He is the president of the board of directors for the Carolina Messenger.

Considering A “Top-Down” Approach To Evangelism — Edwin S. Jones

Often, we find our approach to evangelism emphasizing a “Bottom Up” methodology. What I mean is this, we commonly emphasize particulars such as the Five Steps or the identity of the church and, I suppose, assume our study will progress toward the overarching principles that give these subjects their more complete biblical meaning. I want to offer an alternative approach, a “Top Down” method.

Please allow me share with you why I wish to propose a Top Down approach. First of all, this proposal creates an initial “Big Picture” model. This larger view takes us to the beginning of a thing to look at it from the standpoint of what God intended to accomplish. This can help us find common ground that is both helpful and inviting. To the contrary, however, if we begin with a method designed to gain someone’s affirmation of certain specific steps or identifying marks, we could quickly enter into controversy.

Some engaging conception-based openings to our study discussions might include: When Jesus announced He was going to build His church, what do you suppose He had in mind? How would the church He purposed to build come to know His expectations for worship? What would Jesus give as prerequisites for church membership? How would people come to know what these entrance requirements were?

The preceding questions center on Jesus and His wishes as well as providing a clear path to Scripture as the only place we could discover what He wants. This makes the project less of a math problem and more of a discovery inquiry into the mind of Christ.

Second, principles or concepts embrace a host of interrelated specifics. Discovering connections among Scriptures allow for strong, memorable, self-supporting, richer understandings. Accepting a given principle or concept leads to some level of buy in to the particulars clearly attached to them. When we begin with Jesus and His intentions, it is more difficult to dismiss a particular point of specific teaching. Isolated commands are more easily dismissed as “prejudiced opinions” than are commands linked to Jesus and His intentions for the church.

Let me demonstrate how this Top Down thinking can also be usefully applied to a specific subject such as baptism. If we were to use as the Top Down point of reasoning to investigate baptism, we might begin with this premise “baptism is not for the remission of sins.” Starting with this premise at the top of our inquiry would make it very difficult to explain almost everything the Bible says about baptism. The specifics do not fit the proposed overarching concept. Conversely, starting from the Top Down point of “baptism is for the remission of sins” makes biblical statements appear to be very straightforward and unambiguous.

Another way of looking at this style of reasoning is to consider that there is no one particular verse of Scripture that contains hear, believe, repent, confess, and be baptized as representing the process of one’s salvation. I believe this process is fully supported by the Bible, yet to arrive at it as a formula requires connecting verses together. We would better serve how God chose to present this process if we allowed for a Top Down discovery.

Beginning with the overarching truth that God wants men and women to find salvation “in Christ,” we can begin to find the things associated with salvation, being “in Christ,” and the transition from darkness to light, etc. Rather than “doing the math” for someone we allow those we study with to discover the very rich, interconnected appropriate response to the cross.

Another way to illustrate this Top Down idea can be found in Matthew 22:40 and related Scriptures such as Matthew 7:12 and Galatians 5:14. These verses let us know that the two Greatest Commands give rise to all other commands involving our relationship to both God and man. Therefore, when we radiate out from these principles to the myriad of specifics that flow from them we insure the particulars will be infused with a robust dose of love and not simply be seen as a check list of things to do.

The next time you find yourself engaged in a religious conversation, think about starting at a conceptual high point and then following with biblical connections from that overarching principle, concept, or intention. Then work your way down to the related specific responses. This is how God reveals often such things; we would be less than wise should we choose to commonly rely on another approach.

Edwin has been active in a wide variety of ministries for almost fifty years. Currently he serves the Lehman Avenue congregation in Bowling Green, KY, and is director of the Commonwealth Bible Academy (CBAKY.com).

Jesus-Centered Evangelism — Edwin S. Jones

Church growth, in my experience, seems to have developed much like a game I grew up with, “Pass it On.” In this game, someone reads a message from a piece of paper, whispers the words to the next person and so on until the relayed message gets back to the person with the original. Even if you have not played the game, I suspect you know what happens.

As has been observed in conversations about the Restoration Principle, the source, Scripture, is the only place to go if we are to be sure we are getting Christianity right. My following words on evangelism suggest we need to apply this original source principle to our outreach efforts. See what you think.

Have We Seen What The Bible Reveals?

When we see the various ways that evangelism is promoted and defined among us, we ought to ask ourselves why the New Testament does not address evangelism the way we commonly do.  Where, for instance, do we find much of our current language represented in principle in the New Covenant?

Where are all the verses urging us to remember to take the gospel to our friends and neighbors?  Where are all the “deathbed” stories?  And where do we find that inspiration’s favorite inquiry is, “If you died tonight would you be lost?” Odd, do you not think, that such things, and many more modern areas of emphasis, are conspicuous by their absence in the Bible?

By speaking this way I do not at all want to question anyone’s sincerity or deny that the reality that souls have been won by the gospel through methods I believe to be a few steps removed from strict biblical patterns. What I ask us to do is to see what we discover by taking a fresh look at Scripture.

I purpose we need to take another look at the Bible to measure our efforts by the original message. We would agree God’s Word is the very place we will find God’s plan for evangelism.  It is in Scripture where we will learn what we are asked to do in church growth.

When we embark upon a search for the original message about evangelism, we will see a picture that is both personal and practical.  We will discover that the most basic needs in evangelism are not for more programs, better methods, bigger and fancier campaigns, or an increasing reliance on mass media.  The main need, the most central component of evangelism, is found in our daily living of the principles of Jesus.  It is the daily practice of biblical Christianity that Scripture emphasizes.

God’s goal for the church has always been that Christians would be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29).  It is therefore no coincidence that the Bible says Scripture gives us “the knowledge of the Son of God to a mature man, the measure and stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).  We have, consequently, “the mind of Christ” revealed in the New Testament (1 Cor. 2:16).

The “mind of Christ” is, however, not intended to be something that is  found only on the printed page.  We are to have Christ’s mind in us (Phil. 2:5). Paul’s prayer for brethren was that they would have Christ dwelling in their hearts by faith (Eph. 3:16-17; cf. Rom. 10:17).  Paul intended that every Christian would be a living epistle (2 Cor. 3:1-4)!

The “process” of this transformation is most significant.  We learn in the Bible that it is a daily walk with Christ that changes us from the inside out. We are to look to the Lord as the model or pattern for our change, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18; cf. Rom. 12:1-2). In this process, we are to “in humility receive the word implanted,” and “prove ourselves doers of the word and not merely hearers” (Jas. 1:21-22).

Paul could well relate to this process of transformation for he was a zealous participant, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).  Paul practiced what he preached and we must also realize that the preaching of this process of transformation was not a lesser concern—it was central to Paul’s message.

In Colossians 1:24-29 we find Paul relating the plan he used when  he  worked  with newly formed congregations.  We are more accustomed to thinking of Paul as a congregation starter.  However, we need to see the rest of the story—how Paul worked to bring congregations to maturity.  This methodology is vital to understanding our need for evangelism. Also, we need to understand that this method was not the exclusive method of Paul. Paul did not start the Colossian church; it was Epaphras. Nevertheless, Paul knew that the approach he took was the approach taken by all who would follow the Lord’s pattern.

Paul pointed out in this passage that Christ “in” a Christian was a believer’s hope of glory (Col. 1:27).  Paul saw his ministry to the saved as being one of presenting them “complete in Christ” (Col. 1:28).  It was for that very purpose that Paul would “labor and strive” (Col. 1:29). This work or labor of developing Christ in a Christian was what Paul engaged in after he planted a church (cf. Acts 20:17-35).

This plan that Paul pursued with such diligence is reflected in his striking remarks to the churches of Galatia.  The brethren in Galatia were being led astray by Judaizing teachers who sought to take them into a legalistic, Old Testament oriented manifestation of Christianity. Paul knew that the brothers and sisters only real hope was in bringing them to maturity in Christ.  His words still ring with passion, “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4:19).

Paul well understood that if the Christian life was to be lived successfully, people had to be brought to maturity.  The maturing process would not only provide great preventive medicine against false teachers and false doctrine; it would equip the saints for their work of service (Eph. 4:12-15).

It is with the most positive aspect of Christianity, Christ-likeness, that we find the Bible’s central teaching about evangelism.  As we “grow up in all things unto Him who is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:15), one of those “things” is most certainly evangelism.  As we become more like Jesus, we become better able to relate to the lost in Jesus’ own way and as suggested by the Great Commission, “as you are going” (Matt. 28:18-20).

In taking this look at the way of Christ concerning evangelism, we must be careful to understand the seriousness of reviving this vital pattern.  We would be most remiss if we saw the value of the pattern for first becoming a Christian, organizing the church, and worshipping God under the authority of Jesus, but did not esteem God’s pattern for evangelism.

Even as Moses was instructed by God to “make all things according to the pattern” (Heb. 8:5), so we must give “much greater attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Heb. 2:1).  There is a great need for the church to return to God’s pattern for evangelism!

The Christ-Centered Evangelistic Plan

The New Testament pattern for evangelism is what the church needs. This pattern centers in personal Christ-likeness.  All through the record of the New Testament the church is constantly and passionately admonished to live in a manner compatible to the nature of Christ.  That is what walking in the light and fellowship are all about.  “If we walk in the light as He, Himself is in the light; we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son, cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Consider the wisdom of this plan.  Who could do a better job with God’s work than a person conformed in a mature way to the image of Jesus?  Is there a better plan than that?  Of course not!

There could be no better way of conducting the Father’s business.  Whether the service to God would involve benevolence, edification or evangelism, the best way to conduct the business of God is to do it as Christ would do it.  Jesus’ entire earthly mission was followed by a singular devotion to the will of the Father (John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38; 8:28; 12:49; 14:10).  We cannot do no better than to follow His example.

As we come to see the significance of the Christ-centered New Testament plan, we come to see certain well-known teachings in a broader light.  For instance, consider the Bible’s teachings on Christ as the head of the church (Eph. 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Col. 1:18; 2:19; I Cor. 11:3).  We realize that this means that there is only one head and thus only one church.  This is devastating to modern denominationalism, but there is more to this teaching than just what it rules out.  There is much here that is ruled in.

By studying the headship of Christ as it relates to the need for the church to practice biblical evangelism, we might readily think of a number of applications.  One example is how a body cannot function unless it receives instructions from the head.  Likewise, the church cannot carry out God’s will unless it understands the thinking of the head, Christ.  Without a strong connection to Jesus, the church is capable of only spasmodic movements that cannot accomplish God’s purpose.

Remember the slogan for the United Negro College Fund, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste”?  That memorable phrase has an application to our subject.  The church has been given the mind of Christ (I Cor. 2:16) and each Christian is to take up that mind (Phil. 2:5).  What a waste it would be if Christians looked to themselves and their own devices in evangelism, rather than to the thinking of Christ.

Another thing in this evangelistic rethinking of ours concerns Christ as the Master Teacher.  We readily acknowledge that Jesus is the master teacher, the greatest teacher that ever lived.  Are we, however, really using what we know about Him in our evangelistic efforts? To what extent are our evangelistic patterns compatible with the practices of Jesus? Do we traditionally begin with a first look at the Christ, or at something steps removed?

What we do learn from Jesus is unmistakably that He did not have any one-size-fits-all method.  While He was always seeking to get people to arrive at the same place,  His methods were as numerous as the people, circumstances and situations He faced.  The truth never changed, but the way Jesus addressed the many conditions He encountered was forever changing. Is that not one of the main reasons we call Him the “Master Teacher”?

I realize that Jesus’ approach requires maturity and growth before a Christian would be able to go at personal evangelism in such a flexible way.  I also know that the various program methods available can be helpful in getting us to a more confident, mature, flexible approach.  However, I even more significantly know that we rarely give priority to the flexible teaching example of Christ.  We speak of Christianity being a lifestyle; yet rarely see the obvious connection with evangelism being a lifestyle.  We might go as far as to say that Christianity is God’s plan for evangelism just as it is for everything else.

Methods can easily get us in a rut.  A thing that might help us to grow can, at times, actually become a crutch. Studies have shown that the most effective means of study is one person sitting across the table from another with an open Bible between them.  Good, old-fashioned Bible studies that use the Bible as the “equipment” not to mention Jesus sanctified in the heart as the always ready as you are going “method.”

One more thing about the Jesus emphasis, and this might be the most important benefit of all.  As we come to know Him better we will grow in our love for Him. When all has been said, the conclusion of this and all things Christian is this.  If we love Jesus, we will keep His commandments (Jn. 14:15, 23; 2 Cor. 5:14-15)! Good bye apathy, hello Christ motivated life!


Brethren, the need for evangelism is great, but evangelism needs to be understood by first listening to God.  The slower, less sensational way of the New Testament is to be chosen over a  “quick fix.”  We of all people who stand for  Pattern Theology should make every effort to get back to the Bible to learn the old way of evangelism.

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it!” (Jer. 6:16a).

Edwin has been active in a wide variety of ministries for almost fifty years.  Currently he serves the Lehman Avenue congregation in Bowling Green, KY, and is director of the Commonwealth Bible Academy (CBAKY.com).


The Parable of the Sower and Evangelism — Donnie Vick

The Parable of the Sower stands as the quintessential parable of our Lord. It has been recorded in each of the first three Gospel accounts (Mt. 13:3-9; Mk. 4:2-9; Lk. 8:4-8). It is one of only two parables for which the Lord provided an interpretation. The other is the Parable of the Tares. The Parable of the Sower, which is sometimes called the Parable of the Soils, was given an interpretation to serve as a guide to understanding the other parables; Jesus said, “Know ye not this parable? And how then will ye know all parables?” (Mk. 4:13).

While the primary force of this parable is to emphasize that the results of preaching the Gospel depend upon the hearts of the hearers, lessons abound in this rich passage. We want to examine ten of these lessons, especially as they pertain to personal evangelism. Let us begin with examining the responsibilities of the evangelist and the hearer.

As the sower sowed, the evangelist is responsible for sowing the Word (2 Ti. 4:2), and as the ground received the seed, the hearer is to receive the Word (Ac. 2:41). The evangelist is not responsible for the results. It is God who provides the increase (1 Co. 3:6). If we preach the Truth clearly, then we do our part. If none visibly respond to the Lord’s invitation or a personal Bible study ends without a baptism, that does not mean we have failed. God’s Truth has been declared, and that is all God requires of us. There is always a response when the Gospel is preached, and God’s preaching never returns void, accomplishing exactly what God pleases (Is. 55:11).

Additionally, the hearer has a responsibility to obey the Truth. Jesus often refrained as He did at the end of the Sower, “Who hath an ears to hear, let him hear” (Mt. 13:9). In other words, if one has the capacity to understand and obey the Gospel, he has a responsibility to submit to the Gospel. The evangelist is not obligated for the hearer’s obligation to obey but only to speak and encourage the obedience of the Truth.

Second, we see that the sower went out to sow (Mt. 13:3). The evangelist must go (Mk. 16:15). If he never went out to sow, he would not be much of a sower. Likewise, an evangelist is not an evangelist, a good-news teller, if he does not go and evangelize. A farmer cannot produce a crop staying inside the comforts of home; he must get out in the elements. Likewise, we cannot convert the world from our couch or behind our computers.

Third, the sower sowed the Word (Mk. 4:14). Luke called it the “word of God” (Lk. 8:11), while Matthew “the word of the kingdom” (Mt. 13:19). God requires that we plant His Word into the hearts and minds of the lost. Only the Gospel is God’s power to salvation (Ro. 1:16). Only the Gospel can answer the world’s greatest problem, sin. Only the Gospel can produce the kingdom of God, the Lord’s church. Therefore, let us dispense with testimonials and storytelling, and preach the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth.

Fourth, the sower is broadcasting seed. There are different ways to broadcast seed. You could use a large spreader, an handheld spreader, or your own hands. In the same way, there are different ways to broadcast the Word of God, such as radio and TV programs, weekly worship services, tracts, and newsletters sent to the community. The public preaching of God’s Word is a tremendous weapon in our arsenal (Ti. 1:3).

We may not think of the weekly sermons and Bible classes as personal evangelism, but they certainly can be if members are actively inviting people to worship with us. Unbelievers visited Corinth’s worship services, and the preaching needed to be understandable, so they could believe (1 Co. 14:16, 23-25). Individuals who visit our worship services, especially more than once, are our best contacts. Hearing the Gospel preached sometimes has a softening effect on the hearer. He may not respond immediately, but he may be ripe for a personal study that will eventually lead to a conversion.

Fifth, we should remember that soil does not always remain the same. Once fertile soil can become wayside. Wayside soil can become fertile. Fertile soil can be covered in thorns. Jeremiah wrote, “Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (Je. 23:29). Hosea also recognized this point when he urged his audience, “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground: For it is time to seek the Lord, Till he come and rain righteousness upon you. Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; Ye have eaten the fruit of lies: Because thou didst trust in thy way, In the multitude of thy mighty men” (Ho. 10:12–13).

Hard hearts can soften, and soft hearts can harden. When we preach to someone and their heart is hardened against the Truth, that is not necessarily the final chapter. They may respond in time. So, we sow seeds, and we may reap sheaves years later. Many of us could name individuals who heard the Gospel, rejected it, and years later obeyed it.

Sixth, the wayside heart failed to grow and produce fruit because Satan snatched the seed away from this heart.  However, Matthew’s account includes an additional detail.  He states that this individual “understandeth it not” (Mt. 13:19).  People do not understand the Gospel for a number of reasons.

Some simply do not want to understand. They have seen enough to understand that obeying the Gospel means they must submit their wills (which may include continuing a wicked lifestyle or desiring to remain in a false religious group) to the will of Christ, and this is totally unacceptable for these individuals. If one is able to engage one like this in a study, this person may try to quibble with the personal evangelist over the significance of baptism or instrumental music. On the other hand, he may just listen quietly to the instruction not asking many questions, while anxiously awaiting the evangelist’s departure or his departure. Both situations can be equally frustrating as they both produce the same results: nothing.

Other accountable persons do not understand the “word of the kingdom” because sadly they cannot understand it. Some have waited too late, being in such a physical condition that prevents their acceptance of the Gospel. This person could be on his deathbed or an individual who has suffered some tragedy that hinders him from obeying. Others have so damaged their minds through drug use that their capacities to comprehend the simple facts and commands of the Gospel is totally lacking. Frankly, their minds have literally been blown-away. Not all drug abusers will be in that situation, but some do irreparable harm to their minds. While all cases of non-conversion are sad, these cases are especially sad. The personal evangelist will find himself thinking, “If only I could have had the opportunity before such and such took place.”

Seventh, others do not understand the Gospel because of the presentation of the Gospel has been unclear. While the personal evangelist is not responsible for the bedrock underneath the soil nor the thorns choking the Gospel nor the birds waiting to snatch the Gospel, he is responsible for presenting the Gospel clearly. Our teaching must be done logically. Sermons must be clear, orderly, and applicable expositions of Scripture and not muddled, disjointed irrelevant opinions. When we our having personal Bible studies, we need a system.

Many methods for teaching the lost have been produced by faithful brethren over the years. Find one that works for you. You may need to find a few. Sometimes a video series works well, but for others working through a worksheet would be better. Fishermen use the lure that is catching fish, and personal evangelists need to use the method that will catch men. Whenever one does not use a method, there is a tendency to go everywhere preaching and arguing the Word with the prospect. This accomplishes very little. Leave questions for after the study. Many times a prospect’s question will be answered as the study progresses.

Eighth, both the stony and thorny ground received the seed, but these could not ultimately handle outside forces. When we have the privilege of assisting someone in his obedience to Christ, we need to be ready to help this new convert deal with the trials and temptations that will come his way. Hopefully, we have helped this individual count the cost prior to his baptism. Afterwards, we cannot leave this babe in Christ to figure things out on his own. Paul wrote that we fulfill the law of Christ when we share one another’s heavy burdens (Ga. 6:2).

While becoming a Christian is not a heavy burden (Mt. 11:28-30), dealing with ongoing consequences from one’s old life and the reaction of friends and family to one’s new life in Christ can be. We need to assist the young Christian by helping them become better acquainted with others in the congregation. Perhaps some in the congregation have dealt with similar issues when they became Christians and can be a source of great encouragement.

Ninth, when we study with an individual, we may see the potential dangers that lie ahead if this individual becomes a Christian. We may see the thorns already creeping in to choke the Word. If that is the case, try to help the individual see what obstacles he will need to face. The thorns are the “cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in” (Mk. 4:19). These items may not necessarily be sinful but have been given the wrong emphasis. It may be a work situation, where they have a choice about working overtime during services to make a little extra income. Some get involved in sports leagues and civic clubs that have events during assembly times. These are some of the things that we need to help prospects see so they can continue after their conversions to be fruitful.

Finally, we are looking for the honest and good hearts (Lk. 8:15). My father, Ben Vick, Jr., when teaching on this passage will often point out that before a heart can be made good it must first be honest. It can be difficult at time to know if a person is honest. Unlike Christ, we do not know the thoughts of those with whom we study (Jn. 2:25). However, sometimes in the course of a study their honesty or dishonesty will be made known.  When we learn of someone’s lack of honesty, we should move to more fertile soil.

What valuable lessons pertaining to evangelism can be found in the Parable of the Sower, but let us, as we go forth sowing the Word, not forget the primary lesson, which is that the reception of the Gospel depends upon the heart in which it is sown.  Remembering this lesson will help us do as the honest and good heart does, bringing forth fruit with patience (Lk. 8:15).


Donnie preaches for the Edgewood Church of Christ in Greenville, SC.


“It Is Better To Take Refuge In The Lord Than To Trust In Princes…” — Jon Mitchell, Editor (Editorial: October, 2016)

At the time of this writing, the 2016 election for president of the United States and other elected governmental offices on the federal, state, and local level will take place in a little over a month.  Much attention has been given to the presidential race over the past fifteen months or so since the first candidates in each party announced their candidacies.  Many in the brotherhood, myself included, follow politics closely, especially in presidential election years, and like to discuss the various candidates and races in person and online via social media and the like.

There was a time when I never thought much, if at all, about any connection between my Christian faith and political views.  However, that changed in 2000 when I became a preacher and, not coincidentally, began to take my Christian walk more seriously.  During that first year of full-time work I read and for the first time personally applied to myself Jesus’ command and promise in Matthew 6:33:  “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  I also read for the very first time ever Paul’s charge to Timothy:  “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Ti. 4:12).  These verses became very important to me, and still are.  I was 24 years old, a brand new preacher who had never planned to become one and had received no purposeful formal training.  My personal biblical studies and burgeoning experiences in dealing with brethren and the lost were, along with advice from older, more seasoned preachers and brethren, all I had to guide me.  I knew how easy it would be for people to condescend to me due to my age and inexperience, and so I was determined to do the best I could, however imperfectly that would be, to set the proper example before them in all areas of my life.  The only way I could do that would be to put God and his will as the top priority in every single aspect of my life as best I could.  That is still my goal today, and I still fallibly try to meet it.  It’s a good goal for all Christians to have.

I realized that if I as a Christian first and preacher second were going to “set the believers an example” by “seek(ing) first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” then my politics would have to completely coincide with God’s revealed will.  Otherwise, I would be guilty of choosing to follow Matthew 6:33…except in the voting booth.  Christ’s condemnation of the hypocritical example the Pharisees set before those who sat at their feet (Mt. 23:2-3), at the time newly discovered and studied by me, weighed heavily on my heart and I did not want that same condemnation.  Thus it was that during that 2000 election year I started diligently researching God’s Word for guidance as to what governmental policy positions God would approve of and what kind of leader God would want America or any country to have so I could vote accordingly.

Something God said in the Psalms jumped out at me:  “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes” (118:9), and again, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation” (146:3).  This was a stark contrast to how I had looked at politicians previously.  An honest retrospection of how I had viewed my choices for president in the 1990’s and in 2000 made me realize that I had thought them to be the only ones who could not only  save America from its woes, but also make my personal life more abundant and fulfilling.  My political discussions with my brethren that year—and every election year since, especially this one—made it clear that I am far from the only Christian who thinks this way.  If I was going to truly trust Jesus’ promise that he would provide for my needs if I put his will first (Mt. 6:33), then I would need to follow God’s directive to put my trust in him instead of princes and politicians.  Christians, please take this to heart.

David’s inspired words also caught my attention:  “The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spoke to me:  ‘He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God’” (2 Sa. 23:3).  Solomon wrote something similar:  “It is an abomination for kings to commit wickedness, for a throne is established by righteousness” (Pr. 16:12).  God wants men who are just, righteous, and who fear him to rule over nations.  My initial reaction to this was to wonder if I could only vote for faithful New Testament Christians since only we by the blood of Christ are completely justified and righteous…until I saw that the Bible also spoke of non-Christians possessing these attributes to a lesser degree (cf. Mt. 13:17; Ac. 10:1-2, 7, 22).  I concluded that I could follow God’s parameters if I supported a candidate who, as best as I could tell, showed by the fruits or evidences of his personal and political life that he was just, righteous, and feared God (cf. Mt. 7:16-18).  Any candidate whose personal life, personality, and policy positions were proven to be unrepentantly ungodly could not receive my support if I was to truly heed Matthew 6:33, 1 Timothy 4:12, Psalms 118:8 and 146:3, 2 Samuel 23:3, and Proverbs 16:12…no matter how much they promised to make my own life and the country better.

As I continued to study, I noted with interest how little the Bible had to say about the pros and cons of various domestic and foreign policy philosophies which held such prominence in what people looked for in candidates.  I couldn’t find guidance on which specific economic, educational, healthcare, or foreign policies God would endorse.  Rather, I found that God would rather his followers live in an impoverished nation which was rich in righteousness instead of a wealthy, unrighteous nation (Pr. 16:8).  I also saw that he was looking for leaders who surrounded themselves with wise counselors whose advice they would be willing to heed (Pr. 25:5; 29:2; cf. 1 Ki. 12:6-15), men and women who were tough on crime and evildoers (Pr. 20:8, 26; Ro. 13:3-4) and who would not oppress the poor while also refusing to enable the lazy (Pr. 28:15; 29:14; 31:9; cf. 2 Th. 3:10).

Thus, I realized that if I was to put God’s righteousness first in the voting booth, a candidate’s positions on promoting what God calls righteous in our nation would have to matter more to me than their domestic, economic, and foreign policies per se.  All my life, the killing of innocents in the womb and the legitimizing of the abomination of homosexuality have been matters of governmental policy.  Both have been promoted and fought to be further legitimized, by various candidates, even though God condemns both (Ps. 139:13-16;  Ro. 9:11-13; Ez. 18:1-20; Pr. 6:16-17; Mt. 19:4; Ro. 1:26-28; 1 Co. 6:9-10).  In addition, I’ve seen candidates excuse away or defend certain crimes and criminals, candidates who themselves have oppressed the poor and needy or have promoted policies which do the same, while also enabling the lazy to continue to avoid honest work.  Keeping Jesus’ and James’ admonitions to heed all of God’s will in mind (Mt. 23:23b; Ja. 2:10-11), I realized that I could not support a candidate unless I could see that they were making an honest effort to promote and defend God’s righteousness in all of these areas and  humbly listen to wise counselors who upheld the same.  This would have to be top priority, more important than any attractive promises about healthcare, education, foreign policy, taxes, and the like.

The last biblical truth I found was that God ultimately decides who will rule America (Da. 2:21; 4:17, 32, 34-35; 1 Ti. 6:15; Re. 1:5; cf. Ro. 13:1ff).  If it is his will that an ungodly person rule our country, he will make that happen and, as Habakkuk also taught me, will do so likely to punish our country in an effort to bring us back to him (Hab. 1:1-11).  Since righteousness exalts a nation and God abhors evil rulers (Pr. 14:34; 16:12), the only reason he would allow an evil ruler is to bring a nation low in order to motivate it to come back to him (cf. He. 12:5-11).

Normally as far as I can tell, there has always been at least one candidate who has come across both personally and in the policies he promotes as just and fearing God.  This year is different.  For the first time in my adult life, it is generally agreed in both religious and secular circles that both major candidates are personally abhorrent by biblical standards, and both promote various ungodly policies.  Both have recently been under investigation for wrongdoing.  Both are well known for personally saying and acting both publicly and privately in ways that are extremely ungodly.  Still, both are loudly supported by those who wear the name of Christ…and the lost in the world are noticing.  Social media and the blogosphere show that many  are turned off to Christianity by what they (correctly) perceive to be our inconsistency.

Many Christians loudly support these ungodly choices because they are understandably scared.  Yet, let’s remember that God wants us to live by faith (Hab. 2:4), to put his righteousness first, even if it seems that doing so will bring harder times, and trust that he will still take care of us.  He doesn’t want us to put our trust in princes, in Trump or Clinton or anyone else.  He just wants us to put our trust in him.

God doesn’t ask our help to put the ungodly into power…but he does want us to bring souls to him.  The Bible doesn’t require us to vote, but we are commanded to let our light shine, set the proper example, bring souls to Jesus, and put his righteousness first.  Lost souls are watching us to see if God’s standards matter outside the church building.  Let’s not give them a reason to think they don’t.  If we choose to vote, let’s trust in God and put his standards first.

— Jon

Evangelism: Reaching Out To God’s Glory — Allen Webster & Matt Wallin

A six-year-old boy restlessly struggled to listen to what seemed like a very lengthy sermon.  After the service, the little boy asked, “Dad, what does the preacher do the rest of the week?”

Dad replied, “Well, he’s a very busy man. He takes care of church business, visits the sick, studies the Bible, teaches Bible studies, and counsels with people. And he has to take some time off to rest up. You see, preaching in public is not an easy job.”

The little boy thought about that for a minute and said, “Well, listening ain’t so easy either!”

Evangelism “ain’t so easy either,” but it is a work God blesses.

The words to the song “Lead Me to Some Soul Today” remind us of the great task we have before us:

Lead me to some soul


O teach me, Lord, just

what to say;

Friends of mine are lost

in sin,

And cannot find their way.

Few there are who seem

to care,

And few there are who


Melt my heart and fill my


Give me one soul today.


Lead Me To Some SOUL Today

Asking the Lord to lead us to some soul indicates that we recognize the value of every single person (Mt. 16:26). Your most valuable asset is not your house, your car, or even your family. Your most priceless possession is your soul. Every person you know, every person you love, every person in your life has a soul. That soul will live beyond this life and will enter into the next one.

Since as Christians we have greater knowledge of the future than those around us, we have greater responsibility to tell them how to prepare. George Sweeting tells of John Currier who in 1949 was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Eventually, he was paroled to work on a farm near Nashville, Tennessee. In 1968, Currier’s sentence was terminated, and a letter bearing the good news was sent to him. But John never saw the letter, nor was he told of it. Although life on that farm was hard and hopeless, John kept doing what he was told, even after the farmer for whom he worked had died. Ten more years passed. Finally a state parole officer learned about Currier’s plight, found him, and told him that his sentence had been terminated. He was a free man.

Would it matter to you if someone sent you an important message — the most important in your life — and year after year the urgent message was never delivered?  As Christians, we know that Jesus died to set all men free (Jn. 8:31-32).  He has put the letter in our hand to deliver it.

LEAD Me To Some Soul Today

The average Christian comes into contact with 1,783 people in a week.  Of those, perhaps, a thousand or more are lost (cf. Mt. 7:13).  How many of those thousand could be saved with the right conversation?  One hundred?  Nine hundred?  One?  The answer is unknown, but even if it is a single soul — and surely the answer could not be zero — the possibility is exciting.

Think of the opportunities that you may have today to find a soul for the Savior.  When Jesus sent the Twelve out on the Limited Commission, He included this admonition, “As ye go, preach” (Mt. 10:5-7).  Instead of setting up scheduled speeches at synagogues or lecture halls, they were to preach as they went along each day.  Their audiences would be anyone they happened to encounter as they moved from street to street, village to village, house to house.

Our daily business takes us to many places and places us in contact with many people.  That is how the “go” command is fulfilled.  There is nothing magical about a movie or a plane ride; but when our eyes are opened to souls, every journey, errand, and encounter is an adventure.

Lead Me To SOME Soul Today

The U.S. Center of World Missions reports that in AD 30, when the church was just getting started, there were 200 million people in the world and only about 5,000 Christians.  That is a ratio of 40,000 to one.

John 4 is a good case study in evangelism:

  • Jesus did not let culture close doors to souls (Jn. 4:4).
  • Jesus overcame fatigue (Jn. 4:6). Most of the great things done in the world are done by tired people.
  • Jesus began by engaging in friendly conversation (4:7).
  • Jesus chose a time when others were not around (4:8).
  • Jesus was not put off by potentially offensive statements (4:9).
  • Jesus offered the woman something more than she had (4:10).
  • Jesus had to gain her trust (4:11-12).
  • Jesus did not ignore sins that potentially could close the door (4:16-18).
  • Jesus emphasized sincerity and truth (4:23-24).
  • Jesus identified the Savior (4:26).
  • Jesus used one contact to lead to many others (4:28-29).
  • Jesus took advantage of a spiritual opportunity at the cost of physical loss (4:31-34).
  • Jesus believed that there are always souls ready for harvest (4:35).
  • Jesus saw joy in the future of both the soul winner and the soul won (4:36).
  • Jesus recognized that some conversations require time and more than one teacher (4:37-38).
  • Jesus rearranged His schedule when souls were at stake (4:39-41).
  • Jesus knew that one person cannot reach all types of people and that a team is more effective (4:42).

Lead ME To Some Soul Today

Why many people don’t evangelize:

  • Ninety percent have failed in attempts in the past.
  • They are biblically illiterate.
  • They leave it to the professionals.
  • They don’t want to impose their faith on others.

There is no soul-winning without people.  Every person saved heard the gospel from someone else.  Somebody was involved.

There is something here for ME to do.  We cannot afford the attitude of “Let someone else do it.”  There is no one else.  We cannot afford to procrastinate.  Sometime is not on the calendar.  Someone is not in the phonebook.  Ultimately, we must decide whether we are going to be involved or not; whether we will touch a soul or not; whether evangelism is important to us or not.

Lead Me To Some Soul TODAY

This song was often used as a campaign song to urge us in our evangelism.  Jesus said, “I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (Jn. 9:4).

It is easy to make excuses:

  • In summer we say, “Wait till school starts.”
  • In school we say, “Wait till summer when we have more time.”
  • In summer it’s too hot; in winter it’s too cold.

Raymond Kelcy said, “It is better to wake up five hundred Christians than to convert five hundred sinners, for if five hundred Christians really wake up, they will win more than five hundred sinners.”  It is time for us to “lift up (our) eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”

Lord, lead me to some soul today.


Editor’s Note:  While talking to Matt about writing this article, we discussed how much political talk is taking place during this election year.  Matt and Allen work to put together an excellent evangelistic publication, House to House/Heart to Heart.  An upcoming issue will discuss, “If Jesus Were Running For President, Would He Win?”  They want to reach 3.2 million homes with this issue and thereby encourage our communities to look for spiritual strengths in those we elect, and to ultimately allow Jesus to be their Lord.  Only Jesus can provide the answers people look for!  Email them to learn more about this work.          — Jon


My Most Memorable Moment As A Missionary — Various

The people of Chuuk Island are a poor people.  Outside of the one “town area,” the road is virtually unusable except with a 4×4. Medical care on the island is meager. The people make do with what they have.  We have seen railroad wheels being used as weights on a weight bench, a turned-on-its-back freezer used as a bathtub, and banana leaves used as eating plates.  One very creative use of resources is sewing rice sacks into purses and backpacks.

Epinupe village is remote.  The best way to get there is to take a boat ride followed by a hike over some jagged rocks. My 12-year-old daughter was privileged to make this trip in the summer of 2015 and quickly made friends with the other girls there her age.  Many of their clothes would be considered sub-standard by most of the world.  Some of the girls needed obvious medical attention, but with a difficult trip to town and medical treatment on the island being what it was, they simply did not go.

We were able to visit that village every day for a week, and friendships were formed between the girls.  When it came time to leave, a rice-sack purse was given to my daughter.  It was what they had to give; it was from the heart; and it was the most beautiful purse my daughter and I had ever seen.  Like Mary when she washed Jesus’ feet with her hair and tears, these teenage girls did what they could (Mark 14:8).  My daughter continues to keep that purse which reminds her of the friends she has in Epinupe village, Chuuk.



I was on a Bible study in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia.  This Bible study was with an individual by the name of Jones. Scott Shanahan, a friend and local missionary, had been teaching Jones.  Jones was always very hospitable and had good questions.  The culture in Pohnpei is very open.  Doors and windows are usually open.  Houses are very close and people are roaming around everywhere.  While we were studying, a man by the name of Edgar came to listen at the door.  Once Jones recognized he was there, he invited Edgar to join us. Edgar accepted Jones’ invitation.  Later, Scott and I went by to visit Edgar, but he was not home.  We went by another day and he was there.  He agreed to study and it went great!  Edgar had been exposed to many denominations.  As we read the scriptures, he recognized the truth and would point out the false teachings by various denominations.  Edgar really understood the truth, and, thankfully, he obeyed the gospel.

One might wonder why this particular moment is such a memorable one.  As far as I know Jones, the man I originally was teaching, never obeyed the gospel.  Edgar was a man merely passing by, and, yet, he is the one that obeyed.  This event has made me more aware of the fact that we never know who will have the honest and good heart.  Five months later, something else occurred that caused these events to stick in my mind. I had been emailing Scott to see how Edgar was doing.  He was attending worship and doing well. I then received an email from Scott informing me that Edgar had died.  I was shocked.  I have thought many times since then of where Edgar would be had he not stopped by Jones’ house that day.  What if Jones had not invited him into the house? What if Scott and I had not gone back to see if Edgar wanted to study?  What if we had not been out teaching?  As far as I know, Edgar is saved.  Those turn of events made the difference in his eternal destiny.  These events remind me to always be looking for every opportunity to teach others the truth.



My most memorable moment as a missionary occurred in Guyana while still engaged in local preaching in the US. Having already been to Guyana on a short-term campaign, I was determined to return. In July 2012, my wife and I traveled to Moruca in Guyana’s northern region for a ten-day campaign. The days were hot, and the nights were terrible. The spiders and roaches kept us alert. We walked everywhere along dirt roads, paths, and trails that lead to nowhere in particular except to the next Bible study.

At first, people were hesitant to study the Bible, but then they began to open up to our presence in the community as well as the gospel. Half of the persons that were ready to be baptized made the decision to do so during the last two days of our campaign. By the end of the week, there were 20 baptisms. My wife and I had the privilege of studying with half of those 20 souls that I was later blessed to baptize. I had not been a part of an experience such as that in all of my years of local preaching in the U.S. That event was the single biggest factor in my decision to transition from being a local preacher in the U.S. to being a full-time missionary. This decision has left no regrets.

Returning to Moruca in July 2015, we campaigned around the newly constructed church building in the Mora community. There were 16 additional baptisms, and I had the privilege of immersing seven of those being baptized. Five of the seven were of the same family. As I remained in the river awaiting the next family member to wade out to me, the passages in Acts where complete households were immersed into Christ flooded my mind (Acts 16:15, 34; 18:8).

At that same 2015 campaign, I was able to see and follow up on a few of the ten persons I had baptized three years earlier. It was a joy to know that they were still faithful to the Lord. These visits answered the questions I had about those I had previously baptized. I look forward to returning in order to check on those baptized and to set up additional studies with others. Moruca ranks among the top of my most memorable experiences.



While working short-term with a preaching school in Lethem, Guyana, I made an offer to the congregation there to study with anyone who was willing. A sister asked if I could come visit her non-Christian son, Kenny. Kenny was staying with his mother because he had broken his leg while drinking. It seemed like a wonderful opportunity to highlight the need for repentance, and Kenny was certainly a captive audience.

To reach Kenny, I had to cross a river on what locals called the “monkey bridge.” It consisted of a fallen tree and some crudely nailed together planks. I went to visit Kenny two or three times during my stay, and each time I had to cross that bridge. On the last Sunday I was there, Kenny came on crutches to hear me preach. His mother later told me that he said, “If Patrick can come across the monkey bridge to see me, I can go to church to see him.” Unfortunately, he did not obey the gospel that day, and I have yet to return to find out if he did. However, this event reminds me that I need to cross bridges myself if I expect others to do so in coming to Christ.



It is truly difficult for me to determine which moment as a missionary is the most memorable one given that God has blessed me with an amazing number of memorable moments. Perhaps, however, my most spiritual memorable moment happened in a small Russian village in 1991.  The weather outside was 30 below zero. We were sitting in a small, warm, and cozy apartment teaching a 92-year-old Russian babushka. This sweet lady told us how she had hidden a Bible in her fireplace behind a loose stone for many years. She told of how she would take it out to study it and then hide it again. We noticed that when she talked about spiritual things, she used the same verbiage that well-studied New Testament Christians use. She had not had any teaching from any source other than her own study of the Bible. Her knowledge and discussion of the Bible were absolutely amazing!

As our study with her was drawing to a close, she looked right into my eyes and said, “I have been waiting for years for someone to come and baptize me into Christ. Why have you waited so long?” With tears in my eyes I answered, “I came as soon as your government would allow me.”