Evangelism Activities

Using this farming analogy, I have identified five areas of evangelism—cultivating, sowing, watering, harvesting, and storing. Each area describes a specific aspect of our witnessing efforts, and all of these are closely linked to the process of conversion. Take a look at the following diagram.

Evangelism Activities











Cultivating the Soil.

The first step in farming is to cultivate or prepare the soil for planting. This often involves plowing up the hard compact soil and removing any obstacles that would impede the growth of the seed. Spiritually speaking, cultivating the soil includes preparing the heart of a non-Christian through caring friendship, demonstrated love through good works, spiritual warfare, and intercessory prayer, so that they will eventually be open and receptive to the gospel message.

Cultivating is also called pre-evangelism, and is based upon the premise that demonstration of the gospel message precedes persuasion. Cultivation is often the hardest work in evangelism. Jesus said in John 4:38, ”I sent you to gather a harvest that you did not work for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.

Sowing the Seed.

After cultivating the soil comes sowing the seed. Sowing in evangelism is where we directly share the gospel message with a non-Christian whose heart is softened and open. Following are some practical tips to use when engaged in sowing the grace and hope of the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ.

Sow in cultivated soil. Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:6 not to sow seed on unprepared soil. “Do not give dogs what is holy, or throw pearls before pigs. If you do, they will trample all over them, and then attack you and tear you to pieces.” Many of us want to skip the hard work of cultivating, so we attempt to plant the truth of the gospel in hardened hearts. Such attempts can actually make the person more resistant. So make sure a non-Christian’s heart is prepared before attempting to influence them with the truth of Jesus Christ.

Sow a variety of seed. As the saying goes, “variety is the spice of life.” So when sowing the seeds of the gospel message in the hearts of non-Christians, be creative and use a diversity of approaches. For example, don’t just give a non-Christian challenging Christian books to read; also give him Christian music tapes and recordings of personal testimonies or church worship services. Take him along to Christian concerts or to see a good Christian drama. This allows the gospel message to penetrate his or her heart from a number of different angles, and so heightens the likelihood that it will take root and grow.

Sow quality seed. Don’t hand out tracts that were printed in the 1940s, or books that are no longer relevant to the concerns of today’s culture and society. Our goal is to get the person to read, listen to, or look at what we have given to them. We must use relevant, quality, and up-to-date Christian materials in sowing the seed.

Sow wisely. Sow only as much as a person can absorb. Don’t overload him or her; otherwise we are simply wasting time. However, we should also keep in mind that the Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 9:6, “Remember this is how life works: whoever plants a small amount of seed will have a small harvest, and whoever plants a large amount of seed will have a large harvest.” The point is balance. Sow generously, but only to the point it can be absorbed. If a non-Christian is open to the truth of the gospel message, graciously sow the seed regularly and consistently into his or her life.

Sow relevant seed. Give a person resources that are relevant to his or her interests. If the person likes contemporary rock music, don’t give him or her a southern gospel music tape to listen to. Find the tapes of some good contemporary Christian artists to share with the person. Or if a person is a sports fanatic, give him a book by a top coach or professional athlete who is an authentic and dynamic Christian.

Watering the Seed.

Once the seed is planted, it needs to be watered. The watering process often begins when a non-Christian is introduced to the relational life of the church body—its people, activities and worship. Whether a person takes root and grows as a Christian after his or her decision to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior depends greatly upon watering the seed that has been planted.

The first month is critical for a person after he or she has a born-again experience in Jesus Christ. If he or she is to become a mature and growing member of the church fellowship, they must immediately develop meaningful relationships with several Christians other than the person who initially led him or her to Jesus Christ.

In order for a person to become a faithful and growing disciple of Jesus Christ, he or she must become fully assimilated into the life of a healthy and relational church fellowship. A missionary in a Middle East country told me that one of the most difficult obstacles he has had to overcome is that there are so few vibrant local churches in which a seeking person can experience culturally relevant Christian friendship, teaching and worship.

Harvesting the Crops.

Harvesting occurs when a Christian persuasively and lovingly invites a non-Christian to believe in and receive Jesus Christ into their heart; their most inner life. Harvesting is the aim of the first three steps in evangelism. Our eyes must always be focused on harvest!

Not every non-Christian is ripe for harvest. Those who the Holy Spirit has made ready can usually be recognized by the following characteristics in their lives:

  • They are open to Christian friends.
  • They are not hindered by their religious background or past experiences.
  • They share openly about their personal hurts, concerns and needs.
  • They are aware that the good news of Jesus Christ can offer solutions to their life.
  • They are verbal about what they are experiencing in their spiritual journey.
  • They ask thoughtful questions about Jesus and the Christian life.
  • They are willing to experience Christian activities and events, like worship services.

It is important to remember the difference between persuasion and manipulation. Keep in mind that biblical persuasion has an ethical base, while manipulation does not as these Bible passages reveal, “For our appeal to you did not come out of error or impure (mixed) motives, nor were we trying to deceive you. On the contrary, we speak as messengers who are approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel of Christ. We speak only to please God and not people, because it is God who examines our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:3-4). “We have renounced all shameful and deceitful ways. We refuse to live deceptive lives, or change any part of Gods word. On the contrary, we present God’s truth in a clear and understandable way, and so we commend ourselves to everyones conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2).

Storing the Harvest.

Some conclude the discussion concerning evangelism with the concept of harvesting. Again, this is because their evangelistic focus is often centered on soliciting decisions, not making disciples. However, as I have pointed out, our commission is to make more and better disciples. For this reason, I personally emphasize the importance of another step in the evangelism process—that of storing the harvest.

No successful farmer would harvest a crop and then leave in it to rot in the fields. He gathers it in and stores it in a granary where it will be properly preserved and kept. Likewise, once a person becomes a born-again Christian they must be assimilated into a relational and biblically-based church fellowship. A church that worships God in Spirit and truth; the life-giving Holy Spirit and the truths taught in the Bible (John 4:23).

Too many of us think the ministry of evangelism is completed once a non-Christian has made a decision to receive Jesus Christ into their lives. As a result, many newly born-again Christians remain undernourished, and are never properly incorporated into the life of the church—where they can grow and mature.

I prefer not to identify a person as a growing disciple or follower of Jesus Christ until he or she becomes an active and growing member of a church fellowship. It is our ministry as faithful witnesses and stewards of God’s kingdom to make sure that happens.

This chapter has emphasized the necessity to make mature disciples rather than to simply solicit decisions. We have looked at the process of conversion in rather abstract terms up to this point. However, conversion is not an abstract process, but one that is real and played out daily in the hearts of non-believers.

The purpose of this chapter has been to orient us to the reality of that process. For further clarity, I have placed the three previous diagrams together to help us visualize how the various aspects of the conversion process relate to one another (see the following diagram). Before moving on to the next chapter, review these diagrams until you clearly understand the process of disciple-making.