I believe the Great Commission is worthy of—and even calls for—purposed times and strategic plans for spreading the gospel. Thus, we have several times and locations each week available to members of our church to meet up with a partner for the purpose of saturating our community with the gospel.
And yet, there is a danger in using only those times for sharing the gospel.
In reality, we are surrounded by people who need the Lord—some of which are our family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. We want to lead them to Christ as well, even if not on a Thursday night at 6:30 or a Saturday morning at 10:00.
Acts 8:4 tells us of the early Christians, “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.”
How do we also develop this “everywhere mentality” where we are ready to share the gospel at all times and are seeing fruit among our friends and family?
In my recent book, Take It Personally: A Practical Guide to Owning and Obeying the Great Commission, I suggest four ways:
1. See People as Souls
The Bible tells us that when Jesus “saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them” (Matthew 9:36).
We too easily see people and are moved with frustration at the inconveniences they may bring or we are moved by intimidation of what they would say if we spoke up with the truth.
Remember the eternality of a soul as you encounter people throughout your day or week, and it will help to make you more mindful of developing relationships with people with whom you want to share the gospel.
2. Look for Opportunities
We have a tendency to “miss the forest for the trees.” But there are people all around us who need the Lord. How can you see and seize these opportunities? By specifically looking for them!
- When you make a specific soulwinning visit, go also to the homes on both sides of the people you originally purposed to visit, invite them to church, and see if there is an openness for you to share the gospel.
- When you’re going through the checkout at a store, give the clerk a tract with an invitation to your church.
- When a coworker tells you about a difficult situation, offer to pray for him, and then tell him what a difference knowing Christ personally makes in your life.
You would be surprised how many opportunities there are to share the gospel when you are looking for them.
First Thessalonians 2:4 says, “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.” You and I, too, were “put in trust with the gospel.” And we should look for opportunities to share it with those around us.
3. Steward Relationships
Less than two months after Jesus rose from the dead, the Apostle Peter preached in Jerusalem, and Acts 2:41 records, “the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” What an incredible victory for the gospel as Peter preached that day!
But do you remember who led Peter to Christ? It was his brother, Andrew (John 1:41). Andrew’s faithfulness to witness to his own family played a part in the backstory to Pentecost—even though Andrew himself didn’t preach the powerful sermon of Pentecost.
When you and I steward the relationships God has given us, who knows the outcomes of that faithfulness?
God has placed specific relationships in your life—family, neighbors, coworkers, friends, and even briefer acquaintances such as your barber or accountant or child’s soccer coach. See these relationships as a gift from the Lord, and nurture them for the purpose of sharing the gospel.
You may not share the gospel every time you see that person. But if a particular moment isn’t the right time or the person doesn’t respond to the gospel the first time you share it with them, continue to nurture that relationship.
Continue praying for that person and be careful to maintain a good testimony for the Lord while you wait. Another Christian may have the opportunity of a chance-encounter to tell the gospel to them, but you have the opportunity to also live the gospel before them. Use that opportunity wisely.
4. Obey Every Prompting of the Holy Spirit
One of my favorite soulwinning stories in the New Testament is that of Philip and the Ethiopian man in Acts 8.
As you read these verses, picture yourself in Philip’s shoes—first, as the Lord tells you to go to the desert (not where you would expect to find someone and share the gospel with them) and then as He tells you to run and catch up with the royal caravan from Ethiopia:
And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.—Acts 8:26–29
I can imagine that Philip could have felt uncomfortable with these instructions. But what Philip didn’t know is that God had already been working in the Ethiopian man’s heart. In fact, the man was right at that moment reading Isaiah 53 and had questions about it that led to a natural presentation of the gospel (Acts 8:30–35).
Because Philip obeyed the Holy Spirit, as awkward as it may have felt to do so, this man got saved.
When the Holy Spirit nudges your heart to speak to someone about salvation, don’t ignore His prompting. Even though the situation may not feel comfortable to you to speak up in, you have no idea how God is already preparing the hearts around you. But He knows, and He does prompt us to witness for Him at just the right moments.
This is one reason why it is important that we seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 instructs, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).
When we are living in surrender to the Holy Spirit, we will be more sensitive and obedient to His promptings to witness. And we’ll have the opportunity to share the gospel and bear fruit in times and places we never expected.