The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. (Luke 4:18)
In the book of Acts there are two major strategies of world evangelism practiced by the early Church which are still appropriate today. The first is spontaneous evangelism, where believers responded immediately to opportunities and spontaneously shared the Gospel. The second is planned strategy for evangelism. Paul’s missionary journeys and planting of churches are evidences of planned strategy.
All believers should be alert to opportunities for spontaneous evangelism, but planning for evangelism is a deliberate step you must take. In this lesson you will learn how to plan for evangelism.
Planning is much like farming. There is no such thing as farming in general. A farmer may raise wheat in the Midwest of the United States, oranges in Israel, and rice in the Philippines.
In each of these places there are similarities: Plants are cultivated and there are common factors like soil, nutrients, seed, water, light, diseases, pests, and tools. Yet farming is very different depending upon the crop being grown, the location, and the available technology.
So it is in spiritual harvest. You cannot engage in evangelism in general any more than the farmer can farm in general. If you are to be successful, you must establish clear plans, priorities, strategies, and work assignments. You must know your purpose and plan to fulfill that purpose.
Planning helps you be a wise steward of the Gospel and resources of ministry such as buildings, property, equipment, finances, and the spiritual gifts of believers in your care. Planning provides direction, helps you make good decisions, establishes priorities for ministry, and makes you accountable by evaluation. It permits you to act decisively rather than react to crisis situations.
The Bible is filled with stories of men and women who made plans under the direction of God. Noah planned to build the ark. Abraham set objectives for his servant, Eleazar (Genesis 24).
Joseph planned for the years of famine (Genesis 41). Moses was given a plan to deliver Israel from slavery and plans for building the tabernacle. Joshua made detailed plans for conquering the promised land.
David prepared for the building of the temple. King Hezekiah had a plan to unify Israel, and Nehemiah planned to rebuild the wall. Old Testament prophets revealed God’s plans for the nations, and the book of Revelation reveals God’s plans for the future.
Some people believe planning hinders the freedom of the Holy Spirit, but this is not true. After the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, it is only a short time later that planning and organization began under the direction of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6). The miracles which occurred in the early Church certainly demonstrate that planning did not interfere with the work of the Holy Spirit!
Planning can be a form of worship, a time during which you reflect on God’s purpose and plans and open your spirit to His guidance. When you pray and study God’s Word and plan under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, planning is a spiritual activity.
Planning does not hinder, but rather cooperates with God. One example of this is the plan of Joshua at Ai (Joshua 8). He had a plan (verse 4) but it did not hinder God’s miraculous working (verse 18). Both natural planning and supernatural events worked together in harmony to accomplish the objective.
Jesus had a plan of ministry. He planned to preach the Gospel, heal the sick, cast out demons, and do miracles confirming God’s Word. He would fulfill God’s purpose by dying for the sin of all mankind, destroying the works of the enemy, and rising from the dead in power and glory.
Paul made plans, otherwise the Holy Spirit could not have changed them as indicated in Acts 16:6-10. Jesus gave the general plan for evangelism in Acts 1:8. When we plan for evangelism we are just filling in the details.
Any statement about what will happen in the future is a statement of faith. Plans are statements of faith. To make no statements about the future is to exhibit no faith.
A plan is a way of describing how you will go about reaching your goal of evangelism. Planning forces you to seek the mind of God and the will of the Holy Spirit. What does God desire? How can you conform to His will for your life and ministry? Planning also helps you decide what you will not do, for it excludes certain things.
The Harvestime International Institute course, “Management By Objectives,” will assist you in planning. Always remember, however–you can spend a lifetime doing research and planning and never get around to doing the thing that originally motivated the research. It is research and planning for evangelism, not for its own sake.
The model begins with the assumption that we do not know God’s strategy for a particular people. It helps us set aside our preconceived plans and ideas and be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Here are the steps in the model:
The great spiritual harvest we are to reap is made up of many fields of many nations. You must determine specifically what is your mission. Who are you trying to evangelize? Where do they live? What are they like? You need to define the harvest field in terms of its geography, culture, and language. The Harvestime International Institute course, “Environmental Analysis,” will assist you in this.
There are many methods of evangelism described in this course. On the basis of what you learn as you define your mission, prayerfully determine the best methods of evangelism. It is very important to do this so you will not waste your efforts. For example, television evangelism
would not be successful in an area where people do not have television. Literature evangelism would not be successful where there is a high percentage of illiteracy. Remember that part of the strategy of methods is determining what you will not do as well as what you will do.
What means do you have for evangelism? Who will you use to evangelize a certain people group or area? What finances do you have available? What material resources (such as equipment, printed material, other similar items) will you need?
Your plan should focus on the goal of evangelizing rather than civilizing. It should focus on extending the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, not the rules of a denomination or organization. A plan should contain objectives which are statements of goals you hope to accomplish. These statements should:
-Relate to evangelism.
-Be clearly stated.
-Be balanced between faith and reality: If they are unrealistic, they cannot be achieved.
-Be definite: Plans that are too vague are difficult to implement. Your plan must include statements of who is to do what by when and how it is to be done.
-Be measurable: You must be able to evaluate if you have fulfilled the plan.
-Be organized by priority: Some parts of the plan must be done before other parts can be accomplished. Some objectives are more important than others.
Planning alone will not accomplish the work of evangelism. You must implement the plan. To implement the plan means that you put it into action. Implementing a plan includes:
-Selecting people to accomplish the plan.
-Communicating the plan to them.
-Delegating responsibility for various parts of the plan.
-Training people to do the tasks.
-Organizing people, resources, events, etc.
-Evaluating the results.
When you evaluate something you examine it carefully and consider its value. Evaluation is the process of examining plans to determine their value in achieving the purpose of evangelism.
Objectives state what you plan to do. Evaluation determines if you accomplished those objectives. Even God evaluated His work in Genesis l. He examined all He had created and declared, “It is good.” Evaluation may reveal that you need to revise the objectives, make a change in people working on the objective, change the completion date, change the methods, or readjust the budget. When you have completed a plan, evaluate it to answer these questions:
-Did you reach the goal?
-Where did you fail? Why and how?
-Where did you succeed? Why and how?
-What could you have done differently? Different methods, people, or plan?
-Were resources of people, material, and finances wisely used.
-Could you use this same plan again?
-What can you learn from this that will help you in making new plans?
…then use what you learned to start the evangelism cycle again.