Foolproof evangelism program needs no budget or training

“Here’s a foolproof evangelism program that requires no budget, no training, and can be implemented immediately.”  That’s the way I introduced one of my seminars at The Billy Graham School of Evangelism last week.  Participants suspected there was some kind of catch, but showed up anyway.  Sure enough, there was some kind of catch.

But the catch is a good one — this program of evangelism comes from the words of Jesus, is not optional, and has eternal consequences.  Plus, it needs no budget, no training, and can be implemented immediately.  And, church size has nothing to do with its success or impact.  Any church can do it, and every church should.

What is it?  Doing good.  Helping others.  Showing we care.  The care of souls.  Social gospel.  Whatever you want to call it, it’s found in Matthew 25:31-46.  Here’s part of it:

34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Jesus continues by saying that those who did not do this “will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”  Sounds pretty important to me.  Everybody can do this, and small churches can do it just as well as megachurches, maybe even better.

So, that’s it.  Doing good.  Helping others.  Meeting needs.  Because when you do you are doing it unto Jesus himself.  That’s the catch.

15 thoughts on “Foolproof evangelism program needs no budget or training”

  1. I wonder what would happen if every church in America decided to do one thing for a year and one thing only. And that thing is to make everything they do measure up to this passage of scripture. In other words, make it the litmus test for what you do. Is this about the least of these? Is this about doing for others so we’re doing for Jesus? For one year make it a one-item priority list. This passage of scripture is the one that hangs me up on a daily basis. It’s awfully clear as it’s the only place Jesus defines how he knows who belongs to him and what the standard will be for making that determination. Powerful stuff, huh?

  2. I’m all for doing good, truly I am, but I’m not sure this can be called “evangelism” without the clear proclamation of the Gospel, because the Gospel, as I understand it, is not about good works but faith in Jesus Christ. If we do good works without explaining the Gospel people will likely assume that we are trying to earn God’s approval and they should too.

  3. A social gospel is not a gospel. Do good, but don’t call it evangelism if it is without the gospel. We have a hard enough time getting people to spread the good news without confusing them by telling them doing good deeds by itself is evangelism.

  4. J.T. and Justin, thanks for your comments. I should have been more clear myself. I am not suggesting that we fail to articulate the gospel story, but I am suggesting (as Jesus does here) that our caring actions are themselves non-verbal expressions of the gospel. Gospel means “good news” and to the hungry, the verbal good news needs to be coupled with the good news in food form. James says the same thing when he says “faith without works is dead.” We have split loving-speech (Christian witness) and loving-action, and Jesus does not split them here, or in his ministry. His verbal expressions of God’s love were accompanied (sometimes preceded by) caring expressions.

  5. Pastor,

    I am agreed with you, good actions should be one to one with the gospel proclamation. For example, If I am a homeless, I have no clothes, no food, I am in need of all these things, and there is people praying about the gospel “the good news”, I think I would love to hear the good news, breath, eat, touch “the good news”, experience how this “good news “work in people’s heart full of compassion for others needs. I believe words are not enough, that’s why Jesus said what he said in those verses, and I understand it better after reading your article. Good job.



  6. You call this EVANGELISM!? No wonder America sinks in its depravation and sin! How about: …faith comes from H-E-A-R-I-N-G THE MESSAGE, and the message is heard through THE WORD of God.

  7. Actually, I do call this evangelism, and so did Jesus. But, hey, take it up with him! These are his words, not mine. BTW, James has an answer for you on this — James 2:14ff:

    14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

    18But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
    Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

    19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

    20You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

    25In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

  8. Thank you for your clarification, Chuck. Can we agree that Gospel preaching must be accompanied by Gospel living and vice versa? Both are important. The Gospel message without a Gospel lifestyle is hypocrisy. A Gospel lifestyle without a Gospel message is ambiguity.

  9. “Gospel preaching must be accompanied by Gospel living and vice versa” No, brother! Don’t err. Romans 3:28 “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law”. Don’t confuse justification with sanctification. Of course the believer ought to be an example in everything, and that will help unbelievers to come to Christ. But good deeds will NEVER substitute the power of the true gospel. Hebrews 4:2 For we also have had the gospel PREACHED to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not COMBINE IT WITH FAITH… SOLA FIDE! Praise God! The TRUE gospel is PREACHED and BELIEVED to have any effect.

  10. Okay, so why did Jesus say what he did in Matthew 25 then?

    (I would take issue that “deeds of the law” is the same thing as what Jesus is talking about. “Deeds of the law” is a technical term, not just good deeds. But that’s just my opinion.)

  11. This discussion has shifted from how best to evangelize to the role of good works in justification. It would be helpful to keep those two issues separate.

    There is nothing unscriptural in saying that a believer’s good works help draw others to God: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). We must practice what we preach if we’re going to be effective witnesses. And, as I said in my first comment above, we must also preach what we practice, so those who see our good works will understand that we aren’t trying to earn God’s favor, which he gives freely to all who believe.

    Another, more difficult issue is how to reconcile Paul’s teaching on justification by faith with Jesus’ comments in Matthew 25, where good works seem to be what determines who goes to heaven. In honor of Yom Kippur, I’m going to leave that theological problem for someone else to solve while I reflect on my sins.

  12. I really don’t understand the issue here. Chuck is very right in what Jesus says in Matthew 25. If you don’t do what I command you to do, I’ll say I didn’t know you. Period. There is no discussion required here. The current church doctrine teaches that all you have to do is profess Christ as your saviour, and you will get into heaven. Sorry. Christ begs to differ. Similarly, He was speaking to believers, so it is supposed that they already followed Him. That means, as I see it, that if you ain’t doin’ both, you ain’t travellin’ to where you wanna go. There is no ambiguity here. When we know what God would have us do in a situation and we are capable of doing it, saying “I’ll pray for you” doesn’t cut it. It’s merely a cop-out. We are to be His hands and feet. When we walk by someone begging on the street; or know of a single mother that is having a hard time and you don’t help as you are able, Jesus was clear.

  13. My goodness. Talk about splitting hairs!!! Some of these people have missed the WHOLE point. If they would try it, they might find out it would work. Don’t criticize it until you try it. If your church is not growing and people are not coming to Christ, then you need to try it. “If you keep doing the same behavior, then you will get the same results.”

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