In the Great Commission, Jesus commanded His disciples then and now to make disciples of all nations. Jesus defined the two parts of that task as baptizing and teaching them to obey. If there are no efforts in prayer or connecting with individuals in the community, there will be no relationships resulting in invitations to homes, class, class fellowships, worship, or Jesus. Thus, prayer and relationship evangelism usually preceed decisions for Christ and baptisms.
Reaching out must occur before teaching and life-change can take place. And yet there are often excuses given for not reaching out. Mark Mittelberg has written a great article entitled Ten Excuses: How to Respond to Those Trying to Dodge the Great Commission. Allow me to apply those excuses to our efforts in the adult Sunday School class. In Part 1, I will share the first five of Mittelberg’s excuses in all capitals followed by my commentary:
I DON’T HAVE ANY NON-CHRISTIAN FRIENDS. When we really look around, each of us has friends, relatives, associates, and/or neighbors in our circle of influence who are unchurched and/or unsaved. Stop and write down names for each of the four categories. Begin praying for 3-5 of these every day. Invite them to your home. Invite them to class fellowships. Invite them to class and worship. Consider this idea: Give Sunday School to Jesus.
I DON’T HAVE THE GIFT OF EVANGELISM. IT’S NOT MY THING. I have heard various percentages quoted, but the most common is that about eight percent of believers have the gift of evangelism. But that does not absolve those of us who have other gifts, experiences, or passions from using what we have to lead our unsaved FRANs to Jesus. We can use our gift of teaching, mercy, administration, or whatever gift to lead them to Jesus. We can also invite our FRANs to class and worship where they’ll have an opportunity to respond to an invitation.
I DON’T HAVE TIME RIGHT NOW. This statement tends to reflect that the issue is low on your list of priorities. What if you were sitting at a meal with Jesus and He asked you to visit one of His friends tomorrow? Would you make time? Is living for Him a priority in your life? Obedience to His Great Commission assumes you will share about Him and lead those who do to live like Him. Also, I really like Mittelberg’s suggestion: “Mix outreach with things you’re already doing by inviting unchurched friends to join you.”
I’M AFRAID OF WHAT FRIENDS WILL THINK OF ME.Many are waiting to be invited. Some are wondering why we don’t talk to them about Jesus and church. But, again, Mittelberg had a wise response: your fear is “a good sign you’re sensitive enough to approach people in ways that won’t unnecessarily offend them!” And remember our Lord’s words, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven,” (Matthew 10:32-33, NIV).
I’LL JUST LIVE OUT MY FAITH IN FRONT OF MY FRIENDS; THEY’LL FIGURE IT OUT. We must back up our words with our lives, but our words are essential. Most won’t respond unless invited. But it does not have to be intense interactions. In fact, casual conversation and sharing of how Christ impacts your life usually generate more interest and response.
Have you heard any of the se excuses for not reaching out? Have you ever used them? Ask God for help in responding in a way that will honor Him. In Part 2, I will share the last five of Mittelberg’s ten excuses. Be faithful in reach ing out and sharing Jesus. Your FRANs need Him. And they need you to share Him with them. Be revolutionary!
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