It was encouraging to recently reconnect with a friend I first met more than 40 years ago. Bill was a college professor and a religious person, but had not yet come to a personal relationship with Christ at that time. Through a Bible Study with Bill, his wife and two other couples that my wife and I hosted in our home, he had a life changing experience with the Lord. As a result, there was a ripple effect, and several family members and friends came to the Lord. He later became a pastor, as well as a business as mission practitioner. Much fruit has come from Bill’s life and ministry over the past four decades.
Spontaneous Work of the Spirit
The ripple effect of transformed lives is actually the work of the Holy Spirit, not our plans or human effort that make it happen. We are often amazed and surprised at the spontaneous work of the Spirit when we obey Him and reach out with the love and message of Jesus. Plans, methods and strategies are important and needed. However, when we walk with God, obey His leading, and act in faith, we can expect His redemptive activity of multiplying disciples. Communicating the Good News of Jesus and making disciples is not complicated, and is something each of us can do when we make ourselves available to Him.
Fruit that Multiplies and Reproduces
As followers of Jesus, it’s valuable to recognize the power of sowing God’s truth into the lives of those we have contact with on a regular basis. It could be a shopping mall, a trade show, a convention center or just a walk in the neighborhood where we encounter those who need the Lord. Ultimately, it’s Christ Himself, living in us, who produces fruit that remains and reproduces. As we faithfully share the good seed of the Word of God, we can expect it to connect with fertile soil.
Think of conversations most of us have almost daily that could become spiritual encounters. Simply sharing our own testimony, an answer to prayer or reporting some activity of God in our lives or others can be a powerful strategy. Even sharing accounts of spiritual movements around the world can capture people’s attention and open up significant conversations. Some followers of Jesus have come to believe they need some special skill or gifting in order to lead others to the Lord. The fact is, anyone who has had a genuine encounter with the Living Christ has something to share.
The Cutting Edge of Disciple Making
Over the past decade of Orality training and practices with Living Water International, we’ve observed how participants come alive with new passion for sharing the Gospel and making disciples. The cutting edge of disciple making and church multiplication is appropriately communicating the Good News of Jesus, then nurturing believers on their journey. Another important lesson we’ve learned is that you don’t have to be a great storyteller, because we have great stories (God’s story) to tell. When we communicate God’s message accurately, we can have confidence that the Holy Spirit will touch hearts and change lives.
Prayer and Abundant Gospel Sowing
Missiologist and author, Dr. David Garrison points out that the top two factors in Church Planting Movements today are Prayer and Abundant Gospel Sowing. Those are simple things that every believer can engage in. We are discovering that Bible Storying and Orality Training strategies are equipping believers with tools of the age, as well as with tools of the ages, to share God’s Word in many forms of expression. Concepts, principles and practices of Orality are actually the most effective ways and means that people have learned and communicated from the beginning of time.
Power of Simplicity and Kindness
God seems to be leading many of us these days to simplify our lives, as well as our methods of missions and ministry. We all live in a mission field, made up of our families, neighbors, co-workers and friends. Another category we could call, all others, those contacts we have in our normal traffic patterns. Everyday, wherever we happen to be we have opportunities to pray, speak a word of blessing or encouragement, as well as demonstrate acts of kindness. Those are all ways of sowing seeds that can produce much fruit.
One of my mentors over the years was the late Dr. Avery Willis. A favorite saying of his was, “You can count the seeds in an apple, but you can’t count the apples in a seed.” That’s the way the Kingdom of God grows. Principles of the Kingdom of God that Jesus talked about, the mustard seed and the yeast, illustrate how little things can have big impact.
No Greater Joy
There really is no greater joy than being “On Mission with God” and being part of making a difference in people’s eternal destinies. It’s not just for some elite class of Christians, but every follower of Jesus can and should represent Him to those around us. Asking questions and telling stories are simple and basic ways to start. Every encounter with an individual or a group can become an opportunity to bring Jesus into the conversation. It can be as simple as asking, “How can I pray for you?” or saying something like, “You might be interested to know …..” then share some act of God or answer to prayer. Once we take that initial step of faith, we can expect the working of the Holy Spirit.
–Jerry Wiles is North America Regional Director of International Orality Network and President Emeritus of Living Water International.