You and I are obligated to “preach the Gospel to” (Mark 16:15) and “make disciples of” (Matt. 28:19) all the world. We call this the “Great Commission.” Christians need to take this very seriously.
Lately, something I’ve been doing more often is praying for people that I can bring to Christ – prospective souls for evangelism.
Then I started thinking, “Would I know a good prospect for the Gospel if I saw one?”
What would you say the ‘perfect’ prospect looks like?
Would the person be poor? We sometimes think that because someone has a lot of money, they won’t be open to the Gospel. Though there is some truth to this (cf. Matt. 19:24; 1 Cor. 1:26), I recall that both Matthew and Zacchaeus made a good living.
Would the person be unchurched? By unchurched I mean not religious. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, two very religious people, recognized Jesus as the Christ.
Would the person be religious? Some think that if a person who knows a thing or two about the Bible, they will be more likely to listen to the Gospel. Yet, in the days of Jesus, the religious people were the ones who often rejected Him, and the non-religious people were the ones who often listened to Him (cf. Matt. 11:25).
Would the person be immediately receptive to the Gospel? I’ve walked away from a lot of Bible studies with people thinking, “This person agreed with everything I said! I just know he/she will be baptized soon.” But then I never hear from them again. In fact, if someone seems overly-receptive, I’ve noticed that they probably won’t end up opening the Gospel. A person’s first reaction is definitely not a good indicator.
Would the person be moral? Christians tend to dread evangelizing to ‘rough’ and worldly people. Yet it seems like Paul spent most of his time in Ephesus and Corinth, both very worldly and immoral cities (certainly not in the ‘Bible Belt’!). Referring to Corinth, the Lord told Paul, “I have many people in this city who are My people” (Acts 18:10).
Who is the ‘perfect’ prospect for evangelism?
While there are a few qualities that we can look for, there is no ‘perfect’ prospect. In fact, it isn’t our job to decide who is a candidate for the Gospel.
Something I’ve just recently noticed is the apparent recklessness of the sower in Jesus’ parable of the sower (Luke 8:4-8, 11-15). In fact, the behavior of the sower is downright bizarre to me. He threw seed around indiscriminately!
To farmers, especially in the days of Jesus, seed was (and still is) precious and expensive. Just ask any farmer today. A sower plants each seed carefully and in the best soil he can find. Each seed is surrounded by the best soil around. A sower doesn’t plant seed without concern of where it will land.
But the sower in Jesus’ parable didn’t know if the soil was good or bad; he just threw it, just in case the soil was receptive. He didn’t care how much he paid for the seed. He had no concern for how much of the seed would take root. He was taking a big risk!
We are called to preach the Gospel to all of creation. Not just the people we think are good prospects. You and I just aren’t smart enough to know better than God who is ‘good soil’ and who is ‘bad soil.’ We need to be indiscriminate in whose heart we think the Word will produce faith (cf. Rom. 10:17).
We need to be willing to step outside of our respective comfort zones and risk spreading the Gospel seed over as much soil as we can find.
In the words of Solomon,
“In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.” (Ecc. 11:6, ESV)
Question: How can we more thoroughly and/or effectively spread the Gospel seed?