Sowing Gospel Seeds
Why do many Christians struggle to share their faith with others?
I believe one answer to that is that they feel unqualified. They believe that they have to have a perfect presentation or be well-trained before they are able to do so. I especially believe that we who are in the Reformed camp have made sharing Christ more complicated than it need be.
Think for a moment of the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. She clearly was not well-versed in Scripture. Her education would have been minimal. Her lifestyle up to this time was grossly an immoral one. Yet she was used to lead a whole village out to Christ (John 4:30) and many believed in him (John 4:39, 41).
Her "method"? She gave a simple testimony of Jesus' prophetic insights and wondered aloud if he was the Christ.
Similarly, I would like to encourage you to think of sharing the gospel as simply sowing seeds. Of course, Jesus spoke of the kingdom of heaven in this way, as of a sower going out and sowing seeds in many places (Matthew 13:1-9). We are told the seed represents the word of the kingdom (Mt. 13:18-19). As a seed is a small object, we need to remember that any spreading of God's Word, whatever form it may take and however small it may be, can still have a powerful impact on others.
When the people of this Samaritan village were streaming out toward him, he used this occasion to remind his disciples that there is a gospel harvest to be gathered (see John 4:35). In order to gather it in, we must sow gospel seeds then reap them when we see people responding to Christ. To that end, let me offer some ways to encourage you that you can sow gospel seeds. Please consider these ten.
Send a sermon link to a friend.Sure, you may not be able to preach a sermon. But is there a particular message your pastor has preached that could benefit a friend of yours? With SermonAudio and other websites with messages on them available, you can send a message from your pastor or another preacher to a friend. Add a comment explaining its helpfulness to you or an insight it contains.
Share a one-minute testimony. In a discipleship study I am attending, we were encouraged to be able to share how we became a Christian in one minute. Using five sentences and a question, I came up with a short recounting of God's work in my life. In those few sentences, my testimony gives a few details about me and my need of Christ, tells of Christ's death and resurrection, has a short Bible verse in it, and ends with a request to tell them more. We are to be prepared to give an account for the hope that is in us (I Peter 3:15), and this is one way to do so.
Invite a person to read the gospel of John with you. As this is the gospel that opened my eyes to Christ, I love to encourage people to read this book. If you can have someone agree to read a chapter from John with you, do so and then spend a little time asking them three questions: 1) Who does this chapter say Jesus Christ is? 2) What does it mean to believe in Jesus? 3) What is the eternal life that he offers? As these questions are based on the stated theme of John (see John 20:30-31), each chapter in this book is helping answer them.
Place a Scripture with a brief word of encouragement in a note, on Facebook, or in an email. A Bible verse with a personal account of its power in your life can impact a friend. By sharing God's Word this way, you are identifying with Christ and giving your friends a glimpse into his working in your life.
Have tracts or booklets ready to give to another. In the same discipleship group mentioned above, I was recently challenged by Ken Smith to have available simple gospel literature in my Bible, car, or messenger bag. One never knows when a conversation may lead to wanting to share more than the occasion allows, and you can send that person off with something to read. In response, I redeveloped a presentation I had learned from Ken years ago called "Four Questions Everyone Should Ask." Here is the link to the inside panels, and here is the link to the outside panels which you can modify with your own church's information if you like. Also, another resource I like for professionally done evangelistic booklets are John Blanchard's materials.
Make an appointment to share a gospel presentation. Yet another way gospel seed can be sown is simply to ask a friend if you can meet with them to share what the main message of the Bible is. When I do this, I use Romans 6:23 as a summary verse of the Bible and draw a diagram that helps explain the verse. If you are not able, ask if you can invite your pastor along and make it a learning experience for you.
Tell them about an answer to prayer. Sharing our life in Christ in a dynamic way such as telling people of God's goodness in answering prayer can be a natural way of sowing seeds. Relating with the answered prayer any Scripture promise that demonstrates God's faithfulness gives added power in planting the seed.
Give them an invitation to a Christianity Explored course or other evangelistic study your congregation is offering. Surely your congregation has some gospel study it offers such as Christianity Explored that introduces people to Christ. If not, prayerfully encourage your pastor to begin one. Simply inviting your friends then accompanying them to the study is a great way for them to hear the gospel.
Share with them 321: The Story of God, the World and You video. The 321video is a five-minute explanation of the gospel, where the 3 represents the Trinity, the 2 speaks of people either being in Adam or in Christ, and the 1 emphasizes the need for oneness with Christ. Send it via an email, text, or other messaging and ask them to watch this and tell you what they think.
Invite them to church. Let us not forget one of the most common, regular means that we have available. Your congregation is a place where your friends can come not only to hear of Christ but experience him through his body. Worship, fellowship activities, ministries, Bible classes, home studies - all of these places should be places we invite people to come. Our congregation will be having in a few weeks some special evangelistic services we call "Stories of Hope" where we are encouraging one another to invite people especially to come to church. Yet we should be regularly inviting people as well.
If we are not seeing conversions in our midst, perhaps an adage of the apostle Paul explains why. "He who sows sparingly will reap sparingly, but he who sows bountifully will reap bountifully." May we all sow gospel seed deliberately, abundantly, and expectantly!