When Robert Coleman spoke at Summer Grove Baptist Church about Jesus’ strategy for evangelizing the world, he started by reminding his listeners what they had to tell people about:
SHREVEPORT – When Robert Coleman spoke at Summer Grove Baptist Church about Jesus’ strategy for evangelizing the world, he started by reminding his listeners what they had to tell people about:
“Jesus died for our sins and rose again,” Coleman said. “It’s the resurrection that brings us back to the reality: The one who sends us has overcome the world. He has all authority. … When you turn to Jesus, it’s the beginning of a new, whole life.”
Those with this new, whole life tell others, and they tell others, and they tell others.
“Through the process of multiplication – one telling another; both telling others – everyone someday will have the opportunity to hear the gospel,” Coleman said. “The methods depend on the circumstances; the basic truth holds us together.”
Coleman, Distinguished Professor of Evangelism and Discipleship at Gorden-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, wrote The Master Plan of Evangelism (MPE) – now in its 101st printing, with more than 3 million copies sold – to describe the principles of Jesus’ strategy for reaching out to the entire world with the good news of the Creator God’s love for each individual.
“Selection” is the first principle of evangelism, Coleman wrote in MPE.
“It all started by Jesus calling a few men to follow him,” the professor wrote. “The initial objective of Jesus’ plan was to enlist men who could bear witness to his life and carry on his work after he returned to the Father.”
He chose simple men who exhibited the potential for leadership. They were teachable, honest, open about themselves, and they had big hearts. “What is perhaps most significant about them was their sincere yearning for God and the realities of His life,” Coleman wrote. “Jesus can use anyone who wants to be used.”
In addition to finding men willing to learn, Jesus concentrated on a few – he kept the core group small enough – 12 – to be able to work effectively with them. He did not neglect the multitudes, but focused on meeting their needs rather than becoming the mega-star the masses wanted him to become.
“Jesus was not trying to impress the crowd, but to usher in a kingdom,” Coleman wrote. “This means that he needed people who could lead the multitudes in the things of God. …
“Though he did what he could to help the multitudes, he had to devote himself primarily to a few men, rather than the masses, so that the masses could at last be saved,” the professor continued. “This was the genius of his strategy.”
In the evangelical world today, an
emphasis on numbers – of converts, candidates for baptisms, and church members – has replaced genuine concern for the people those numbers represent, Coleman said. Churches need to be raising
up trained disciplers for the work of ministering with the pastors and church staff, he wrote.
“Surely if the pattern of Jesus at this point means anything at all, it teaches that the first duty of a church leadership is to see to it that a foundation is laid in the beginning on which can be built an effective and continuing evangelistic ministry to the multitudes,” Coleman wrote. “This will require more concentration of time and talents on fewer people in the church, while not neglecting the passion for the world. … Everything that is done with the few is for the salvation of the multitudes. … [M]ultitudes can be won easily if they are just given leaders to follow.”
Next week, the principle of Association.