Author: Charles Hegwood
Did you know that Jesus had a plan and strategy for Kingdom ministry? We may know this to be true, but we rarely think about our Savior having a mapped out plan. The gospels record Jesus’ method, strategy, and words. Matthew in particular captures a snapshot of Jesus’ strategy in Matthew 9:35-38. This snapshot is not simply to inform us that Jesus ministered but to model ministry for us and call us to join Him. Matthew invites us to walk the same ministry path that Jesus walked. In this passage let us look at the strategy that Jesus used as He taught in strategic places, preached the gospel, and cared deeply about people by meeting their needs. Jesus then challenges us to pray for and join this Kingdom harvest.
There is nothing wrong with spontaneously sharing the gospel. As a disciple of Jesus you will find that seemingly random conversations happen. While these conversations can be God ordained, as a strategy, spontaneity is not sufficient to be a complete model for evangelism and discipleship. With intentionality, let us follow the way of our Master. Jesus went to the synagogues to teach. Synagogues were a place where teaching and learning took place. So Jesus taught in places where people gathered to learn about God. This was a strategic location. Jesus went where the people were. And when He found a gathered crowd, and He taught them. This was His routine and method. Paul follows this example if you look in the Book of Acts.
As we go about sharing the gospel we would be wise to learn from the example of Jesus here. Find a strategic place to meet with people. This will depend largely on where you are and the context in which you find yourself. You may go to a coffee shop to meet a friend and share the gospel, you may go to a mall, or any place where people may meet to have conversations. Be strategic in where you meet people to share the gospel. Sometimes the best gospel conversations happen because the place of meeting is comfortable for the friend that you are sharing with.
The message that Jesus shared was also strategic. He did not do TED talks and hoped that people would ask about the Kingdom of God. He went to the people at a strategic time and place and proclaimed the gospel. Jesus knew before He entered the synagogues what He wanted to say. He did not wing the gospel conversations. He knew His message and how to share it. He was clear in His teaching. Jesus’ message had purpose.
When we share the gospel or meet to disciple people, we need to know the gospel and how to share it. I have talked with believers who are eager to share their faith. That is exciting to me, but as I talked with them about the message of the gospel, it became clear that these passionate believers did not know how to organize the message of the gospel coherently. Jesus preached the gospel and knew how to share it with people so that they would understand and respond. We need to know the gospel well and know how to share it in a clear, concise way. A strategic way. How do we do this? Practice sharing the gospel. I have found that the best way is the simplest way. Be clear and concise, and most importantly, know your message.
I think it is amazing that Jesus had compassion on the crowds. We see that Jesus had a compassionate heart. I hope as you grow deeper in your relationship with God you would grow more compassionate to the spiritual and physical needs of people around you. However, all of the compassion in the world, not aimed in the right direction will have minimal impact. Jesus strategically met people’s needs. He healed and cast out demons. He also taught. He met people’s physical needs and spiritual needs well.
We need to be strategic in how we help those around us. Some ministries can help organize your efforts. Whatever you do to help those around you make sure to meet people’s needs in sustainable ways. And note that Jesus’ aid was connected with His preaching and teaching. We should help people with their physical needs but we must meet their spiritual needs. We need to see people who are not following Jesus as Jesus saw them, sheep without a shepherd. We know a Good Shepherd. Your aid and message should strategically lead people to the gospel.
Jesus then called His disciples to pray for the spiritual harvest. This was a very targeted and specific prayer. Jesus had them pray that the “Lord of the Harvest” would prepare and send out laborers. Many of the disciples praying that prayer would be those laborers. They were not yet ready, so Jesus had them pray that God would prepare them. Specific and purposeful prayer is strategic prayer.
How do we pray strategically? First, pray for the spiritual harvest already happening all around the world. Pray that God mobilizes the church to go and share the gospel with their communities. Pray that missionaries be sent out. Pray that local churches in every nation would be ready to go out into the harvest. Second, pray that you would be ready to be sent out into the fields as well. Maybe as a missionary, but for sure as a disciple in a local church. We too often think that the harvest in Matthew 9 is for ministers and missionaries to reap. However, we must see that Jesus is calling each of us to engage in this harvest. Pray that you would be ready to go out into the harvest as a laborer. No one can stay on the sidelines. So pray strategically that God would raise a generation of workers ready to proclaim the gospel.
As we conclude, I want to encourage you to consider yourself a laborer in this great harvest. As we go to strategic places with a strategic message, and meet people’s needs, we go with an attitude of strategic prayer. Pray before you share the gospel. Pray as you share the gospel. Pray as you meet people’s needs and introduce them to Jesus. Pray that you will be ready. Follow the words of Jesus and go reap the harvest for the Kingdom of Heaven.