By Michelle Minhalakis
“Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee” (Luke 18:28).
The church must be very focused in its goal of witnessing the gospel. Making friends is a great technique that will usually keep the door open as long as we are allies. But given enough time, friendship will not be enough. When I witness the gospel, my goal is to accomplish one of three things. The first goal I try to obtain is to get a Bible study. If I can’t get a sinner to embrace that avenue, I will proceed with inviting them to a church service. If that plan doesn’t work, I will invite them to a home friendship group. We always need a goal. Am I really successful in my effort to win a soul if I only made a friend? I would say no. When I witness the gospel, something has to happen. Faith is a dimension that moves forward. When faith is present, something will happen.
Faith doesn’t lie dormant. When it is planted it will bloom. Faith always has an action that proceeds from it. Faith is action-oriented. Faith is an action precursor. It spawns action. But one can have works, yet lack the precursor faith. Faith must be the leader for true spiritual action to spring forth from it, because it is the incubator of action. I must have faith, faith, faith and believe, believe, believe all the way up to the moment someone accepts or rejects Jesus. I must focus in my mind that they will, will, will take a home Bible study or come to church with me. The moment of truth is when someone fully embraces gospel salvation. When I taught twenty-six home Bible studies, it was the faith of God that caused it to happen.
James 2:20 says, “But wilt thou know, 0 vain man, that faith without works is dead?” James goes on to say, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” When you have faith in God, great things happen! When you have faith, those to whom you witness can have faith. In other words, faith breeds faith.
The Bible says in Acts 8:12, “But when they believed Phillip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” They believed and they were baptized.
In Acts 11:21 it says, “And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.” Acts 18:8 tells us, “And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed and were baptized.
When we witness the gospel, we are looking for a specific action. We must see faith in action. It can move mountains. I believe it can move anything, even a lost soul to repentance. We Rust believe wholeheartedly in what we are promoting. I must first be ld out to what I believe before I can convince anyone else they need it. This is one reason more people don’t share the gospel. They lack conviction. Conviction comes through reading and obeying the Word of God and having a life of prayer.
In order for someone to believe, you have to have authenticity in your message because they first must put some faith in you to believe the message of Jesus. This has to occur for you to be effective. Thank God the Holy Ghost is our greatest promoter. It promoted Jesus in the New Testament and He will do it for us today! The Holy Ghost promotes us, but we must in turn follow and glorify Him. It is true that anyone in the Bible who was mightily used by God always pointed to the Creator. When John began to worship the angel in the book of Revelation, the angel told him to worship God. (See Rev. 22:8-9.)
Jesus always pointed to the Father instead of glorifying Himself. In John 9:4 He stated, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” Jesus also stated that when people saw Him they saw the Father. It really is no different now because when the world sees the church, , it should see the Spirit of God manifested. Whenever I see the people who first presented the gospel to me, I see a representational image of Jesus Christ. In the whole process of soul winning and witnessing the gospel we must always glorify God. This must be our primary and main motive in reaching the lost. My goal of reaching the lost must not be greater than my relationship with God or I will not be as effective as I can be. If I have been successful in showing someone their need for God and proved that God is more than capable of providing their solution, the gospel then sells itself.
Most of the work in getting someone to invest in the gospel is done if we have done the preliminary steps well. Many times you will not have to ask someone to come to church; they will ask you if they can come. Years ago when I sold cemetery property, my boss called me in one Saturday because there were seven contracts of mine on her desk. They were all from people committing to buying property. She wanted to know how I did it. Basically, I learned the benefits of what I was selling very well and I didn’t pressure people. I sold what I considered benefits. Another method that worked for me was one that was based on commitment. I offered two programs at the cemetery: lawn crypts that were expensive, and regular burial spaces that were cheaper.
Even though the sales weren’t biblical purchase, they did require a certain amount of faith in me and the property I was selling. My customers had to believe what I was telling them.
The lawn crypts had benefits because the casket was cheaper and the property was in a pretty garden overlooking the Mississippi River. I capitalized on the fact that there was only a limited amount of them and these plots were going fast! The other program I sold was a little more difficult. I was given a picture of a grassy hillside to show clients. I had to convince them that this knoll with a proposed road would be a great investment for them to make.
This plan required a more expensive casket, but the initial outlay was cheaper. I presented the pros and cons of both items I offered for sale, then let the clients decide for themselves. Once they became immersed in making a decision, I would pose a question to them: “Mr. and Mrs. Miller, would you like to meet me at the cemetery one of these afternoons and look at both of the programs, and decide for yourselves what the best choice would be? Then you can really see how beautiful the areas are.” Every time I got a couple to come to the cemetery, I made a sale because it required some kind of commitment.
First I painted a picture that required they “walk by faith;” ‘then faith was put into action. Once the momentum of faith started, there was no stopping it: they purchased the land. When they came to the cemetery and could see what I was talking about, our conversation became a reality they could embrace. And once I present Jesus with value and they come to church, faith takes on a reality. I use a similar method in soul winning. I take what I consider the benefits that the lost would need the most, and I reiterate those benefits over and over. I put myself in their shoes and I do this time and again with those to whom I witness.
I usually can identify with their pain, and it helps me get the right perspective. It also helps me evaluate their needs better. It is always wise to ask someone if they have any questions whenever you finish teaching a Bible study lesson. I also encourage questions when I am witnessing. Questions that are not properly addressed will hinder you from moving forward in trying to win them. Unanswered questions spawn doubt. If people have important questions about a product, they usually will not purchase it until they have their questions answered.
It takes faith, faith, and faith when you are witnessing the gospel. Words of faith are important. And we must speak words of action. “Oh, Mrs. Jones, when you get the Holy Ghost, you are going to be amazed at how wonderful and happy you will feel!” Or “Miss Smith, I am so excited to see the day come when you will get the Holy Ghost!” Or “Mr. Miller, you will be amazed at the difference God is going to make in your son’s life!” “Mr. Olson, when God fills you with the Holy Ghost you will feel so good!”
When my friend John asked me, “What are you peddling?”, I don’t think he realized the connotation behind the word peddler. Satan was accused of peddling in heaven. The word peddler gives one the image that someone is a swindler. The church has truth to offer and when it comes to teaching a Bible study, we need to look people in the eye with love in our hearts and simply ask them. We don’t have to worry that what we are promoting isn’t beneficial. We are doing the lost a service. One of the joys of working for God is knowing you are making a difference in someone’s life. We are life-changers through Jesus Christ.
When people are sheepish about what religion I am or seem out of sorts with the idea of coming to church, I will break the ice and tell them, “Yes, I’m one of those holy rollers!” We have nothing to hide. I am not afraid of man; I can look them right in the eye and invite them to a service. If I want to invite someone to a home friendship group meeting, I approach it in the same manner. Truth does not hide itself, nor does it waiver. It does everything honestly and that is the way we need to do it. We don’t have to beat around the bush; we just need to muster the courage and ask them!
If someone commits to a Bible study, we need to take the steps and schedule the study right then and there. Strike while the iron is hot! If they are ready to listen to your presentation of the gospel, by all means show it to them. Don’t wait! A year or so ago I needed a new roof on my house so I contracted it out to two gentleman. God opened a door several times for me to have lengthy conversations with them about God. When they were pounding and crawling all over my roof, I was walking my floors praying for them. One day while praying, God spoke to me and told me to offer them $50 each if they would attend the next service at our church. After God spoke to me, I wasted no time in running down my stairs and out the front door after them.
I motioned for one to come down from the roof. I told him that I cared more about their souls than I did about the money. I don’t think he really believed me. At the end of the day, I talked to them together and made my offer and told them that God wanted them to find Him. They promised they would come to the service. Sunday came and I waited in the church service for them. Finally they came in. It was the first time that one of them had ever been in a church in his life. When the service was over I followed them out the front door and reiterated that I had promised them the money and that I aimed to keep my word.
The gentleman who had never been in a church before proceeded to tell me that he was $50 short on his rent for the month and I had no way of knowing that. I told him that I didn’t know it, but God did. That man will never forget the words that I had the privilege to peak to him. I believe he will be saved someday. Are we willing to be led by God and give whatever it takes? sometimes we need to do some quick brainstorming to find a way to ;et people to church. While praying in my home I wondered, what an I do to get them to church? We have to become desperate before God for the unique answers provided from His storehouse of wisdom.
You can’t say you’ve been fishing until you’ve hit a snag. As a child I caught many rock bass. But what are the snags in the Spirit? They are the many objections and excuses people will give you to avoid committing to the only wise God and Savior, Jesus Christ. We need to build the value of Jesus in order to minimize objections from the unbeliever. Christians tell me that they invite people to church, but no one will come. Deep down, people really don’t like to tell someone “no.” Sometimes people have trouble committing, and we need to help them by pinning down a time as to when they will take the Bible study. We need to do creative brainstorming so as to accommodate them at every cost. Are we willing to go to their homes to teach them? Are we willing to pick them up for church so they will come? I try to figure out a way that they won’t get away once I have their attention.
I want to be able to counteract every excuse they give me with a resolution or solution. Objections or snags are just part of dealing with people and the reasons why they feel they shouldn’t come to church or take a Bible study. We must learn how to handle objections because we’re going to hear them. We may never know how to overcome all of them, but we can learn something from everyone we encounter. There are many ways we can view objections. We can see them as rejection or we can see them as a voice of interest. Often people will raise objections to gather more reasons to believe the truth of the gospel. They are also giving you a chance to explain why they should embrace Christ, and become seriously involved in the process. I would prefer that someone gives me objections than act indifferent.
Objections tell us they aren’t quite convinced they should give their lives to Christ. Some of the objections with underlying reasons are:
1. I’ve never heard of your church before now.
(The underlying reason to this objection could be “I would like to come to your church, but I just don’t know that much about your faith.”)
2. I want to visit different churches.
(“You haven’t totally persuaded me that your church is the one to join so you better teach me and make me more knowledgeable about what you believe.”)
3. You aren’t going to try to change my religion, are you? (They don’t have much faith in what they currently believe, but they are apprehensive because they don’t know enough about the Bible to discern truth.)
4. Well, I’m Catholic. (Or Lutheran, Presbyterian, Islam, etc.) (Chances are they can’t explain their faith very well, but they are somewhat fearful to leave a life-long tradition so they need to know more about the Bible.)
When we encounter an objection we must show them that we can provide the answers. If someone tells me they’ve never heard of our church, I tell them it’s the oldest faith in the world. If someone tells me they want to visit other churches, I tell them that truth is the real issue at hand, and that I want to help them make an informed decision so that they can attend the church that adheres to the Bible. We better make sure we have them in a Bible study or we stand a good chance of losing them.
They may tell me that other churches have shorter services. I’ll say something like, “Yes, that may be true, but are you getting all you should get in those short services? There is a benefit to being in His presence. The Spirit of God has so much to give that we may be short-changing ourselves by not lingering in His presence.” What would happen if you went evangelizing in your city and a big man came to his door and angrily stated, “I’m going to kill the next solicitor!” Your response could be, “Well, you’re going to need God more than ever if you do that!”
We have to be able to think on our toes. We need to be able to give every man an answer. We should always pray for wisdom and the guidance of God’s Spirit. The Bible says that we are to always be ready to answer everyone who asks us about the hope that lies in us. If someone says to me, You’re not going to try to change my religion, are you I will tell them that I’m more concerned that they embrace truth than I am about changing their religion. I also explain that learning the Word will only help them become a more fully informed member of the church they attend. Although I realize that once they believe the Word, they will feel God leading them out of the church that doesn’t teach the entire Word of God.
Sometimes people will become overwhelmed with the decision of giving their lives to God because they are having a hard time giving something up. A friend that I was trying to win for Jesus was having a hard time making up her mind to live for God or go the way of the world. I had her take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle, placing the words yes and no straddling the line at the top. Then I had her write all the reasons she should and should not embrace a certain answer. This, as a mental method, works on sinners to convert them because it helps them see that Jesus is the correct answer.
There are times when people will vent and tell you all their problems. Sometimes a good answer after carefully listening to their problems is to ask them if they can really afford not to accept truth? Mr. Jones, can you afford not to seek God? Many people think that God couldn’t possibly love them because of the level of sin in their lives. A good answer for this is to talk to them about the Holy Ghost and that the purpose of scriptural baptism is to wash away our sins. I also explain that no one except God has the quality of being sinless, unless they are under grace.
One of the most common objections people give is they want to talk it over with their spouse. Let me say that when you schedule a Bible study, always strive to give it to the husband and wife. When I sold cemetery property, I would not give a presentation if only one spouse could be there. Sometimes this isn’t possible in teaching a Bible study, but if it is, do it. You can tell them, Mr. Miller; this study is so great you wouldn’t want your wife to miss it. It is best that she is there, too.
A problem I experienced in selling was when I would go to a house and give my presentation to the couple, invariably I would win one of them instantly. After a short time I would tune into the environment and if I felt that I had won the husband, but the wife was still apprehensive, I would focus most of my attention on her. I would give her special attention. When I won both, it resulted in a sale. In order to handle objections and win people to God, we have to have the answers. The Bible instructs us to study to show ourselves approved to God. We need to know the Word of God and know it well. We must know it better than our competitors. Competition for the soul of man has never been so fierce because time is so short.
When I lived in the country a man approached me about renting an old garage on my property, and I agreed to do it. Many times when he would be working there, we would find ourselves in a conversation. Of course I asked him which church he attended, and he told me where he and his family went. We began to discuss the plan of salvation. When I shared with him the message Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost, he began to make light of the Holy Ghost experience, calling it “babbling.” I told him the Bible says, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels . . .” etc.
I continued on and told him I had never heard an angel speak and asked if he had. I also told him his own pastor had the Holy Ghost the Bible way (I knew this to be true). The underlying issue was that he felt very inadequate because he didn’t have the Holy Ghost with evidence of speaking in other tongues. After that day, he would become angry if I brought up the Holy Ghost. Every time we spoke, he would get offensive when the subject of religion came up. I finally quit trying to talk to him because I didn’t think he wanted to talk to me. One day, he wanted to discuss the rapture.
We were able to share with each other what we knew concerning the subject. It also allowed me to expound on many other things that were in the Bible. After the conversation was over, I knew that the Word had done a work in his heart. He responded differently to me after that. I learned a great deal from the encounters I had with this man. When it seems that you can’t share the gospel with someone who considers himself to be a Christian, the way to approach him is to talk about something biblical you have in common.
You might have to travel that road a long time until the barriers come down, but wait for the right opportunity to share salvation with him. It is important that we wait patiently for doors to open, rather than trying to open them ourselves. When a door has been shut because someone quits coming to church and bitterness has taken root, we can win them back by being patient and waiting for the right opportunity.
Someone I know was in this situation. She loves knowledge and always strives to acquire it. However, she wants nothing to do with Christianity. She used to attend church but she never fully understood truth. I waited years to be able to share anything about God with her. One day she had some problems and I used biblical principles to give her understanding as to why she had the problem. Anytime I can do this with her, I do it. For quite sometime now she has allowed me to insert the Bible wherever it can be inserted into the conversation. I don’t come out of nowhere and talk about the Bible, but I make a smooth transition related to a subject we are talking about. Once I was able to tell her that spiritual knowledge supersedes earthly knowledge. Soon after she told me that she wanted to find time to read the Bible.
She realized the great wealth of wisdom and understanding that could come from reading the Word of God. Today she is getting closer and closer to accepting truth, but I must continue to be patient with her until she does. We need to be observant and take note of the things that individuals value and what moves them. If someone is not fully informed of the gospel, he or she may procrastinate. Procrastination many times is a result of someone’s insecurity and lack confidence in their decision. If I have successfully refuted all the objections while witnessing Christ to someone, my next goal is to get commitment to a Bible study or church service. If they turn me down, I will wait a space of time to go back or I will take a different approach all together.
We have to put some thought into how we will catch them. If a fisherman goes fishing day after day and the fish aren’t biting, he will try to figure out how he can solve the dilemma. We need to do the same. Sometimes we give up too easily when it could be just around the corner when the lost will embrace the Lord. In these closing moments of time God’s Spirit is literally upon all flesh. But He desires to be in all flesh. I believe the Spirit of God is intently hovering over the face of the earth, searching for one more worshiper who desires to be intimate with Him. There will be no excuses on Judgment Day as to why people did not accept the gospel. Anyone who wants it will receive it, but not everyone will want it.
Peter preached his heart out on the day of Pentecost. Acts 2:4 says, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” That scripture also tells me there were some who didn’t gladly receive his word. Not everyone will receive God’s word, but many will. Do you hear Him calling you to lead others to Him?
This article “Obtaining Commitment” was taken from “The How’s and Why’s of Witnessing The Gospel” by Michelle Mihalakis may be used only for study and research purposes only.