It is God, by His Holy Spirit, who draws people to Himself (John 6:44). So we must pray much, asking God to draw those to salvation who do not know Him.
But we are much mistaken if we do not heed the full counsel of God’s Word and Christ’s commands: Though God must draw people, we must obey God and go and preach the Gospel and tell people the Good News!
“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!’” (Rom 10:14,15).
Yes, the Holy Spirit must draw people to salvation. But as this passage so boldly states, people must hear about Jesus before they can believe in Him!
Jesus commanded His disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:19-20); “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
If this was not a vital part of people receiving salvation, it would be a useless exercise. We must go; we must proclaim! People are perishing daily who have never heard the Gospel. It is God’s desire that NONE should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance (2Pet 3:9). Christians must obey Christ, following His example – calling people to repent and believe, preaching the Gospel to every creature as Christ commanded us to do!
As we preach this Gospel message, it needs to be clear and simple. It must make sense to the hearers. The Gospel message must be understood, so that people are sure about the decision they are making.
A good evangelistic message is unique in that it will be about who Jesus is – and not about how to pray, helping others, or how to be good (those are teaching messages). When an evangelist preaches, he/she tells others about Jesus Christ and calls people to come to Christ in repentance. Many preachers do not know how to preach an evangelism message. Evangelism messages should be about Jesus and why people need to receive Jesus.
CHOOSE A RELEVANT BIBLE TEXT
Choose a Bible text to preach from that helps illustrate the Gospel message and that will make sense to those who hear. Here are a few examples of good Bible passages to preach from that will help people understand Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers to them:
- The lost sheep (Luke 15:4-7)
- The lost coin (Luke 15:8-10)
- The man whom Jesus delivered from demons (Mark 5:1-15)
- The woman who reached out to Jesus for her need (Luke 8:41-48)
- The invitation that was refused (Matt 22:1-10)
- Is your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life? (Rev 20:12-15)
- Jesus will be your Shepherd (John 10:2-4, 26-29)
- Two roads in life (Matt 7:13,14)
- Calling out to Jesus in times of trouble (Rom 10:13)
There are many different passages of Scripture that can form a basis for presenting a clear Gospel message. Ask the Lord to give you insight into the Bible and into people’s lives so that you can preach in a way that they can understand.
LOVINGLY PRESENT THE GOSPEL
Some evangelists begin their message with: “You must be saved! You will go to hell!” They repeat these types of words again and again. This kind of preaching beats down the people and imparts condemnation. After a while they will stop listening and go away.
Your words must draw people. The Bible teaches that it is the goodness of God that leads to repentance (Rom 2:4). Can you tell people why they must be saved? Can you tell them of God’s great love, and Christ’s great sacrifice for them? Can you tell them the joy of knowing Jesus? Tell them what they will lose if they reject Jesus. Tell them what they will gain if they receive Jesus Christ!
Here are some examples to help you understand good evangelistic preaching:
“You are all sinners and will die!”
“You must be saved!”
“You should become a Christian!”
“Don’t be a sinner, come to church.”
“You will go to Hell!”
“You should be good!”
“You should change your life!”
“I know a lot about God!”
“Listen to the powerful man of God!”
“We have all sinned. God’s judgment upon sin is death. Christ took that judgment upon Himself. If you accept Christ and His sacrifice for you, He will forgive your sins and give you life.”
“Sin separates you from God and His love. That is why you need Jesus – He died to pay for your sins.”
“You can know God through accepting Jesus as your Savior.”
“Are you tired of sin and separation from God? Only Jesus can forgive your sins and cleanse you of all unrighteousness, and heal you of sin’s damage.”
“Those who accept Christ will be restored to God and spend eternity with Him. Those who reject Christ will spend eternity separated from God, in hell. God wants you with him, but you must make a choice.”
“We have all sinned against God. But Jesus died on the Cross to forgive those sins. We cannot be truly good without Christ’s help.”
“Many of us want to change, but we are powerless to change ourselves. Jesus gives us the power to change, conquer sin, resist evil and love others instead of hating them.”
“Mental knowledge about God or Jesus alone will not save you. You must receive Christ’s forgiveness and accept Him as Your Lord and Savior.”
“I am no better than you. I am also a sinner. But I have accepted Jesus Christ. He has forgiven me and has given me His life and Spirit, and I can now know God. I am here to offer to you the same opportunity.”
KNOW THE PEOPLE TO WHOM YOU PREACH
With whom will you be sharing the Gospel? Are they businessmen? Women? Workers? Students? Officials? Muslims? Hindus? Buddhists? Get to know the customs, opinions and beliefs of the people. Try to understand them, and why they are as they are.
You can do this in two ways. First, learn what you can about these people. How do they live? What are their fears? What are their beliefs? What do they worry about? What do they hope for?
Second, pray and ask the Lord to reveal to you their needs. Wait on Him and He will direct you by words, with an impression, or through a picture in your mind. The Holy Spirit knows their lives already and will help you know how to speak to them. He will help you. Preaching to basic human needs is a powerful form of evangelistic preaching.
VALUE THE PEOPLE TO WHOM YOU PREACH
You will likely preach to men, women and children (even very young children can understand the Gospel and receive Jesus). You must speak with respect and with truth (1Pet 3:15). Evangelists are not called to condemn people (John 3:17). We must be humble and remember that every person (including us) has sinned and needs Jesus – no one is better than anyone else. Help people to recognize God’s love for them; call them into the hope found in Jesus Christ. If you show people compassion and respect, they are more likely to listen to your message.
SPEAK WITH CONFIDENCE
On your own you have nothing life-changing to say. But you should remember that Jesus sends you. You are a messenger who speaks the message of Someone far greater than yourself. You are the servant doing the will of the Master. He promises to help you. The more you preach, the more you will grow in confidence. Every evangelist makes mistakes, but you can learn from mistakes to become a better preacher. When you do not do well, pray and ask Jesus to teach you how to do better. Over time and with practice you will become better at preaching the Gospel.
BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
Jesus was our example of the Spirit-filled, Spirit-empowered life (Acts 10:38). Jesus preached with authority, casting out demons, healing the sick and setting captives free (Matt 4:23; Luke 4:14-19). Jesus was the perfect, sinless Son of God. Yet there was a specific time before His ministry began when the Holy Spirit came upon Him and filled Him (Luke 4:1; John 1:32,33).
Jesus made it clear that His disciples – who already believed in Him – also needed the Holy Spirit to come upon them to be more effective witnesses (Luke 24:45-49; Acts 1:5,8).
The baptism in the Holy Spirit is given by Jesus (Matt 3:11). This Holy Spirit baptism had a tremendous effect on the preaching of Peter and the other disciples (Acts 2:14-47; 3:11-26; 4:23-31), and will also help you preach the Gospel more effectively.
When a person receives Christ, they are born again by the work of the Holy Spirit (John 3:5,6). The Holy Spirit comes to dwell within them (Rom 8:9-11). However, Christ knows that we need His power to accomplish His will on earth. Thus, he promises us the overflowing infilling of the Holy Spirit (John 7:38,39) that we would be anointed for ministry (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8).
This was experienced by the believers who had already believed in Christ as their Savior (Acts 2:1-4). This also happened later to others, who had received Christ and been water baptized, but who had not yet had the Holy Spirit fall upon them. “Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as yet He had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:14-17).
Has the Holy Spirit fallen upon you in power? Do you wish to have more boldness when you preach and speak of Jesus? If Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, then this gift of the Holy Spirit is for you (Acts 2:37-41). Power to be a more effective witness for Jesus comes when you receive the baptism in the Spirit.
RECEIVING THE HOLY SPIRIT
How do you receive the Holy Spirit? First, make sure your life is clean before God. Confess any known sins and repent to God. Ask Him to search you, then prayerfully confess all that He shows you.
Then ask Jesus to fall upon you with the Holy Spirit and power. Begin to praise Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that you may begin to speak with another language you have never learned, like the disciples did in Acts 2:1-4 and 10:44-46. Do not be discouraged if you do not begin to speak at once. Take time to worship the Lord Jesus and ask Him for His Holy Spirit.
If you know someone who has experienced the Holy Spirit falling upon them, ask that person to lay hands on you and pray for you (Acts 8:14-17). God answers prayer! It is Jesus who told us that we need this impartation – so ask and receive, as He has commanded!
KEEP “BEING FILLED”
We need to continually be refreshed and refilled with the Holy Spirit. The Bible instructs believers to “be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always…” (Eph 5:18-20). These instructions are obviously not a one-time event, but a lifestyle practice. They are to be an ongoing occurrence. The original Greek for “be filled” is actually translated “be being filled” – a continual and renewed filling with God’s Holy Spirit.
We need the Holy Spirit to live within us as Christians – to comfort, guide and teach us. We also need the Holy Spirit to come upon us, and empower us for ministry. And we need the Holy Spirit to continually fill us – to refresh us and help us keep our hearts and mouths filled with edifying praise, melody and thanksgiving!
TRUST GOD – USE YOUR GIFTS
A good evangelist depends upon God’s power and wisdom working through him. Effective evangelism is not natural ability or talent. God uses our natural abilities, but God wants you to trust Him – for only the Holy Spirit can bring conviction to people (John 16:8). The responsibility of the evangelist is to obediently share the Gospel. Then he/she must trust the Lord with the results.
God gives gifts and talents to people, and wise preachers will use them for God’s glory (1Cor 10:31). God also expects us to use our talents to the best of our ability (Matt 25:14-28). God has made each of us unique. He has a purpose for creating us the way we are; no one can do exactly what we can do. It is unwise to copy other preachers; they have their own role to fulfill. You can, however, glean scriptural principles or ideas from other preachers and employ those in your own message, using your own style, as you share the truth of Jesus.
PREACH FOR REPENTANCE
It is important for an evangelist to tell men and women that they must change direction in their lives. They are walking the way to destruction; they must turn and instead follow Jesus (Matt 7:13,14). Call people to change direction (repent), from following their own way to following God’s way. Preach to make it clear that people must decide whom they will follow. There are only two choices: receive Jesus Christ and walk in His ways of life; or choose their own selfish ways, which lead them to eternal destruction.
PREACH TO TOUCH THEIR HEARTS
Life is difficult, even brutal, for many people. The message of the Gospel contains the only true hope for peace with God and forgiveness from sins. People need to know that God will walk through this life with them if they will only turn to Him for salvation. Preach to offer the love of God, the salvation of Christ and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Preach to tell people how to follow Christ.
People also need to know that there will be judgment and punishment for sin. Describe Jesus’ death on the cross, the nails in His feet and hands, the blood running down His body. Tell them how Jesus hung on the cross for hours in pain, how He suffered – as a sacrifice for the sins of all, taking the judgment we deserve upon Himself. Tell of the events; draw a picture for them with your words. Let them see that this is not just a story – it is the Truth! Tell them that Jesus rose from the dead by the power of God and He is alive today. Encourage their decision to choose Christ!
PREACH TO REASON WITH YOUR LISTENERS
Another way to preach is to present a reasonable argument and come to a conclusion. The Apostle Paul taught this way at times (Acts 17).
You want to convince people of God’s perfect plan through Jesus (2Tim 4:2) and the soundness of the decision to follow Christ. You reason with them to bring them to a decision about what is right.
You can tell them the spiritual benefits of choosing Christ (but people must not be told to follow Christ only for His blessings). There are good reasons to avoid eternal punishment; good reasons to choose Christ. A person may choose Christ to have the shame of his past and his guilt removed. Believing on Jesus with repentance takes away sin, and this is a good reason to choose Christ.
For example, if I knew that a man was about to enter into a dangerous and possibly deadly journey, I would want to reason with him about his decision. I would give him the reasons why he should not go: it will rain heavily and wash out the road, there are dangerous animals, there are robbers with guns – whatever the reasons for danger. I might talk about what he could lose on this journey, how his family would suffer, and so on. This is a reasoned argument.
It is the same when you are preaching about accepting Christ. The journey of life is dangerous and offers little protection. Bad and evil things happen when a man takes the road of sin. A man may lose what is precious to him and will eventually lose his eternal soul. Can you see how this reasoning leads a person to think about the choices he is making in his own life concerning Jesus Christ? You can also understand how this helps a man see clearly what his life is like when he does not follow God and His ways.
In this type of preaching you must expose false reasoning that leads people to think they can live without Christ. You must address their temporary security, whether it is in money, family, success or religious rituals. Emphasize that each person has a choice to make in their life, and that there is an eternal result of that choice. If they refuse to make a decision, they have already rejected Christ by not receiving His offer of salvation.
USE PICTURES AND STORIES IN YOUR PREACHING
When you preach, you can use pictures from everyday life that are familiar to the people to whom you are speaking. Jesus did this when He spoke in parables. The word “parable” means to compare, to hold one thing next to another to show how they are alike.
Jesus spoke about farming, animals, money, eating dinner, working in the fields, children playing (Matt 11:16-19; 13:1-32; 20:1-16; 22:1-14; 25:14-30; Luke 15:4-7). When Jesus said, “I am the Door,”(John 10:9) everyone knew what He meant. They could imagine a door in their minds. Jesus was using a common item as a picture to represent that He is the only way to God.
There are many examples, stories and pictures in the Bible that portray for your listeners the love of God, the lost state of people and the truth about salvation:
- The lost coin (Luke 15:8-10)
- The good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37)
- The two houses (Matt 7:24-27)
- The wide and narrow gates (Matt 7:13,14)
- The woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-11)
- The thief on the cross who repented (Luke 23:39-43)
These examples and many more will help you preach in pictures and stories. They will help your audience understand God’s love and His desire to save people.
PREACH WITH COMPASSION AND PASSION
There are three essential things that every evangelist needs.
First, it is important to recognize God’s great love for people. God loves the people to whom you are preaching! He has made them for Himself, and chosen to set His love upon them. He does not want them to live in sin, to be in darkness and pain, to serve false gods, and to be separated from relationship with Him in this life and through eternity. It is not His will that any of them perish (2Pet 3:9).
Let God’s love for your listeners fill your heart. Jesus looked upon the multitudes with compassion, because He saw their lost and broken state (Matt 9:36-38). This is the compassion of God. Compassion is what compels the preacher to go to any lengths to help the lost. It is more than a feeling of pity. It is a sense of God’s mercy available to all of us who do not deserve it. You need to have the same loving concern for people who are lost and perishing.
Second, you need the mind of Christ (1Cor 2:11-16). What does Jesus know about these people? He knows what they need, and what will help draw them to Him. Jesus spoke right to the heart of the woman at the well. He revealed her condition, and told her just what she needed to hear to bring her to salvation (John 4:7-42). Jesus will help you know what you need to say. He knows the people’s needs and wants, their failures and their fears. Ask God for wisdom, who gives it liberally to all who ask (Jas 1:5).
Third, every evangelist needs the power and passion of the Holy Spirit (see “Be Filled With The Spirit” above). They need the strength and conviction of God in their soul to preach the Good News.
Passion is a driving conviction, an undying love and fiery zeal. Passion for God causes a believer to seriously pursue God and His purposes. This passion is fed like a fire when the evangelist takes time to pray and be in God’s presence, and when he or she studies the Word of God.
When you are passionate about the Gospel, you become bold as you proclaim the truth about Jesus and about the world around you. You are fully persuaded that what you are saying is true and important.
The Holy Spirit will give power and life to your preaching, and fill you with God’s passion for the lost. Seeking God’s compassion for the people will help keep you humble and sensitive to the Lord.
At times an evangelist must speak boldly and with courage to declare to the people that they are lost and in sin. But always remember that God’s grace and love touched you and saved you while you were still a sinner. Grace is God’s favor that is not earned or deserved. It is given freely. Offer that same grace to other hearers of the Good News. Be bold, be confident in God, and ask the Lord to fill you with compassion for those who will hear you.
GIVE AN INVITATION
An evangelist preaches the Gospel, calling people to repent and follow Jesus. Always finish your message by encouraging your listeners to make a decision about what they have heard. This is sometimes called an appeal – it is an invitation for the listener to respond to the message of the Gospel.
A response may not always be possible; but if you can, ask those listening to decide if they will accept Christ. When preaching to a crowd or a room full of people, an evangelist might say:
- How many of you understood my message?
- How many of you want to ask Jesus to forgive their sins?
- Are there any here who will give their lives to Jesus, to live for Him?
- Who sitting here will repent of their sins and accept Christ?
- Who wants to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior?
- Who will choose to follow Jesus?
You can ask people to indicate their desire by raising their hands, moving forward, standing up, or telling their decision to someone near them. Ask them to take an action to show they are committing to Christ. The Bible exhorts believers to not be ashamed to openly confess their decision to follow Christ (Matt 10:32,33; Rom 10:9-13).
Men and women must understand that they are making a decision; they must know what they ought to do. Be very clear, so they are not confused and think perhaps they are merely joining a church or making some kind of religious offering. Explain clearly what it means to receive Christ as their Savior.
ALWAYS PRAY WITH THOSE WHO RESPOND
When people indicate that they wish to receive Jesus, to accept Him as Savior and Lord, ask them to pray with you. It is good to have them pray out loud, repeating your prayer. This may be difficult for some, but encourage them to participate. It is easiest for you to pray first and then ask them to repeat your words. Use simple phrases, and keep your prayer short.
Here is an example of a prayer you can pray with those who respond to your Gospel message:
“Dear Lord Jesus, I believe You are God’s Son. I believe You died on the Cross for me, to take away my sins. I believe that You rose from the dead. I am a sinner. I repent of my sins, and for living life my way. I ask You to forgive me, and take away all my sins. Wash me and make me clean. Save me, Lord Jesus, and give me Your new life. Come into my heart, and make me Yours. Thank you for saving me. I choose You to be my Lord, to follow You all the days of my life. Thank you that I can now know God. Thank you for giving me Your Holy Spirit. Help me to live every day for You. Amen.”
AFTER PEOPLE DECIDE TO ACCEPT CHRIST
Take some time to help people understand what they have done by accepting Christ. Tell them, “You now belong to Jesus. You are part of God’s family. Jesus will help you live this life. He is now very near to you every day. You can talk to Him by praying, just as we have done here. Make sure you get a Bible and read it every day. This will help you learn about God, and how to live for Him.
In some meetings or churches, after people have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, it is wise to take time to pray for them. Have them repent in their own words. Have them renounce their involvement with evil things, activities or persons – such as witchcraft, worshiping demon spirits or practicing false religion. To “renounce” means to use words to give up obeying or following something. When people have renounced evil in their lives, you can then pray over them and command the powers of darkness to loose their hold on their lives, in Jesus’ name. Pray God’s protection over people’s lives.
Here are some sample prayers:
New Believer: “Dear Jesus, I renounce the sin of _______ (witchcraft or other sin). I renounce my connection to the powers of darkness and I choose to follow and serve only You as my Savior and Lord. Please set me free from evil right now as I call to You. Thank You, Jesus.”
Evangelist: “Father God, I use Your authority through Jesus to command every power of hell and the evil spirits to leave this person and their home, their family and their entire life. I speak that the blood of Jesus Christ has made them free. I ask You to protect them in every way. Thank you, Father, in Jesus’ mighty Name. Amen.”
After people receive Jesus, it is also good to pray for them to be filled with the Holy Spirit (see “Be Filled With The Spirit” above). As we have learned, the Holy Spirit comes to reside in every person who confesses Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. But Jesus also gave to every believer the gift of His Holy Spirit to come upon them in power to be His witnesses. Pray for people to receive this gift. They may begin to pray in a prayer language they do not know. Help them to know that it is fine to begin to speak out in this new prayer language.
The Bible also commands each new believer in Christ to be baptized in water (Matt 28:19; Acts 2:38). Encourage each person who receives Christ to also be baptized in water. This can be done at a church, or any place there is water (river, ocean, pool, etc). You may baptize them, or have a local pastor or church leaders whom you trust baptize the new believers in water.
A CHURCH FAMILY
Finally, you should help guide these people into a church that will teach and care for them. If this is not possible, you should teach them until a pastor or teacher can come. Paul did this in Acts 14:20-23. They will also need a Bible to read and learn from. Do your best to provide new believers with their own Bible, or at least a New Testament.
TRUST GOD FOR HIS RESULTS
Believe God that He will bring sinners into relationship with Jesus. The Lord said to Paul, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent…for I have many people in this city” (Acts 18). Trust the power of the Holy Spirit who is with you and in you. You can trust the truth and effectiveness of the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is living and powerful! Remember that only God can save, and you are simply a servant carrying His message at Christ’s command. God desires all people to repent and believe in Jesus much more than you do! (2Pet 3:9)
When there seems to be little result, you can do two things. First, go to God in prayer and speak to Him about the situation. Take time to wait upon the Lord. Let Him prompt you if there is something He desires you to understand. Second, ask God to teach you how He wants you to present the Gospel. When God speaks to you, respond to Him! God will teach you, and will also give you teachers. When you are doing God’s will to the best of your ability, trust Him for the results. When seeds go into the ground, they will produce fruit. You may or may not get to see results yourself. The important thing is to obey God and His word.
No matter what results you see, give praise and thanks to God. He is worthy of all our praise and honor, all the time! When people respond to your message, always give God the praise. It is God who gifts the evangelist; it is God’s Word that brings life; it is God’s Spirit who draws people to repentance. The evangelist is just the obedient servant to this great and mighty God! What an honor that God calls us to preach the Gospel and share in bringing the truth of Jesus Christ to others. Those who take glory (credit) for themselves are weak and ignorant, embracing the sin of pride. Only God can save a man, so give God ALL the praise! (Ps. 115:1)