By Dr. Jerry Pipes and Dr. David Wheeler
"I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields
are already white for harvest."
1. Plow the Fields
The first thing we must acknowledge is the basic need to plow the fields through prayer. As Psalm 126:5 says, “Those who sow in tears will reap with joyful shouting” (NASB). The disciples in obedience spent 10 days praying and awaiting the arrival of the Holy Spirit beginning in Acts 1:14. It is shocking how few congregations have an ongoing prayer ministry that includes consistent intercession for the people who don’t know Jesus. In most cases, prayer lists are filled with local church needs of all kinds, especially physical. Effective evangelistic churches have vibrant prayer ministries that include praying for lost people.*
2. Water and Cultivate
This leads to the second basic principle, which is to water and cultivate the soil through ministry/servant evangelism and building and deepening sharing relationships. In a culture where relationships are elusive but essential, Christians must learn to befriend neighbors, co-workers and clients walk with them through daily life. Some people call this pre-evangelism or pre-discipleship; either way, it is vitally important. Too many Christ followers spend way too much time with other Christians to the exclusion of befriending lost people. We are way too easily offended by the non-believers—we are way too critical – we tend to forget that lost people act lost because they are LOST! Bottom Line . . . we need to look for opportunities to bring the people who don’t know Jesus into our lives – to let them see that Jesus makes a huge difference!
3. Plant the Seeds
The third principle requires consistently planting the seeds of the Gospel through personal evangelism. In most cases, it is popular to blame the culture for declining results. The truth is, the greatest way to kill the harvest is to ignore the plowing and planting. Once again, look back at Psalm 126. It says in verse 6, “He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed, shall indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him” (NASB). In Acts 2 the 120 in the upper room sowed the seeds of the gospel by scattering about the city sharing their stories in languages they had never learned. Effective evangelistic churches average utilize three to five different personal evangelism training methods to equip their members to share Christ where they live, work and play.*
4. Communicate the Claims of Christ
The fourth is to clearly and compellingly communicate the claims of Christ. You have to look no further than Acts 2. After a 10-day prayer movement (plowing through prayer), the 120 in the upper room scattered about the city sharing their stories in languages they had never learned (planting the seeds through personal evangelism), and then Peter preached the gospel and gave an invitation. The result—the Harvest! Over 3,000 said yes to the Claims of Jesus and were baptized.
Effective evangelistic churches are marked by three common characteristics:
They have a vibrant prayer ministry that includes praying for lost people.
They utilize three to five personal evangelism training processes to equip their members to share Christ.
They dot their calendars with five to seven attractional events where the gospel is shared clearly and compellingly.*
5. Multiply Through Biblical Discipleship
The fifth principle is multiplication through biblical discipleship. Too often the church sees discipleship as merely passing on information . . . teaching new believers how to personalize the Bible, about baptism, prayer, becoming a good church member, etc. While all of that is important; the key to genuine discipleship is to help the new believer to become a multiplying evangelistic disciple maker. In other words; be intentional to train the person how to share the gospel and make disciples.
*Our next blog will reveal the research on Effective Evangelistic Churches