Witnessing is a skill. It is a skill every believer can learn. Having fruit in EV is not simply a divine miracle that is bestowed upon people in some mysterious and mystical way. Yes, it is a spiritual gift, and as with all gifts, those having this gift will excel in it. Yet as we well know, simply because we do not have the gift of teaching or giving, does not mean we cannot or should not teach or give generously. There is also many who fall into one of two harmful errors. Some of us believe that EV is a supernatural process, which has little or no relationship to human methodology. Conversely, some of us believe that we would become fruitful if only we could increase our knowledge of evangelistic techniques.
We need to be aware that the precious doctrine of the sovereignty of God can be a refuge for our own inadequacies and failings. Since God is sovereign over all, if He decides not to produce fruit through me, then I am relieved of all responsibility. Of course, very few of us believe that God arbitrarily decides that He will give fruit to this one and not to another. However, we are all too quick not to take upon our own shoulders, the responsibility for harvesting lives.
Who does God hold responsible?
I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD. (Ezekiel 22:30,31)
God looked for a man, yet He did not find one. Because He could not find a man He could use, He consumed the people. God is looking for men and women whom He can use. He has already gone on record that it is His will for us to bear fruit.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” (John 15:16)
God always keeps His promises. If we are not seeing fruit, we must not blame God.
The foolishness of making our fruitlessness God’s fault is described by Charles Finney. What does Finney say about reaching others (which he called revival)?
“Revival is the result of the right use of constituted means. It is not a miracle, nor dependent on a miracle. There has long been an idea prevalent that promoting religion has something very peculiar in it, not to be judged by the ordinary rules of cause and effect. No doctrine is more dangerous than this to the prosperity of the Church. Suppose a man were to go and preach this doctrine among farmers, about their sowing grain. Let him tell them that God is sovereign and will give them a crop only when it pleases Him, and that for them to plow, and plant, and labor as if they expected to raise a crop, is very wrong, taking the work out of the hands of God. And suppose the farmers should believe that doctrine. Why, they would starve the world to death. Just such results would follow the Churches’ being persuaded that promoting religion is somehow so mysterious a subject of Divine sovereignty, that there is a natural connection between the means and the end. I fully believe, that could the facts be known, it would be found that when the appointed means have been rightly used, spiritual blessings have been obtained with greater uniformity than temporal ones.”
Once we understand that reaching others involves skill and not only a miracle, we may rush headlong into another error and multiply efforts to gain knowledge about witnessing. Knowledge of evangelistic techniques is not enough. We must possess the skills of an evangelist.
Part of our present day impotence in winning others may be due to the fact that we have made witnessing an intellectual exercise, something to be studied and written about. But we allow very few opportunities for workers to receive hands-on training. The results of this vacuum are predictable. We talk, but do we do it? And where this is training, are we following up with people and holding them accountable?
Imagine a coach trying to develop a world class football/soccer team. Where would he invest most of his time – in the classroom or on the playing field? Would he have his team studying books about the soccer techniques of Pele? No! He would have them out on the field dribbling the ball, passing the ball, shooting at the goal, running plays, making lots of mistakes but receiving his expert correction. Under this mentoring, this team would make far more progress than if they had studied and received Ph.D.s in Footballology.
Sharing your faith is a skill. If we are to see large numbers of people coming to Christ, we must believe that witnessing is our personal responsibility and that we can learn the skill if we want to. Once we understand that winning others is a skill we can impart to others; we simultaneously accomplish two things. First, it is possible for all members of the body of Christ to be mobilized for outreach. Second, it is possible for believers to be free from the frustration of failure that has characterized their previous attempts at EV by training them in how to effectively fish for men and keeping one another accountable in being fishers of men.
PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.