FIVE EVANGELISTIC PRIORITIES
by Glen Penton
Although every person is of infinite value as created in God's image, and every person should have the opportunity to know God through the Messiah whom He sent, the Scripture also teaches that not every person is of equal strategic value in our task of telling the whole world the Good News about God's wonderful offer of pardon and eternal life to all. In other words, some individuals are of higher priority than others, for us to reach in our evangelistic efforts. Others are of higher priority for discipleship. Still others are strategic for leadership positions within the believing Community. I have listed here five groups of people, in no particular order, whom I have found the Scriptures to consistently single out as evangelistically strategic in addition to their worth as human beings beloved by God.
socioeconomic priority: To reach all classes of society, aim at the oppressed and impoverished. This principle is taught, for example, in
I Corinthians 1:27-29, which reads,
"But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise,
and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the strong,
and the things without status and the ignored things God has chosen,
things the world thinks are nothing at all.
And He uses them to destroy the things that the world thinks are important,
so that no one may boast before God."
attitudinal priority: Time is usually best spent sharing the Truth with those whose hearts are already prepared by the Holy Spirit. This preparation is best demonstrated by a teachable willingness to receive correction and a desire for righteousness. This priority is taught, for example, in Proverbs 26:12:
"See the one who thinks he's wise?
There is more hope for a fool!"
age priority: To reach all age groups, concentrate primarily on the children. This seems to be the teaching in places like Mark 9:37:
"Whoever welcomes one child like this in My Name welcomes Me;
and whoever welcomes Me welcomes not only Me,
but also the One Who sent Me."
However this principle is not taught as clearly or as consistently as the others I am enumerating here. It may simply be a special case of some other priority. For example, if we focus our efforts on the age group least respected by society as a whole, or at the most teachable age group, it's still kids in either case, isn't it?
ethnic priority: To borrow an analogy from bowling, the head pin for reaching every family on earth is the Family of Israel, as taught, for example, in Romans 1:16:
"This Good News is not an embarrassment to me.
On the contrary, it has the power of God for good for everyone who trusts Him,
Jews especially, but also non-Jews."
In Biblical terms, a ministry to the non-Jews, such as Rav Sha'ul (who
is called Paul) had, was always a ministry to Jews first and foremost,
but also included non-Jews. To cite one demonstration of this principle, Acts 17:1 tells about Rav Sha'ul bypassing some of the major cities of the Roman Empire because there was no synagogue in them. A ministry to Jews, on the other hand, such as Peter's, was understood as a ministry to no one but Jews, except under very unusual circumstances. The modern concept of a ministry to non-Jews is completely foreign to Biblical thought. (I should emphasize here that this priority applies to evangelism, NOT to how we relate to
fellow-believers. From a Biblical perspective, everyone
who trusts the Jewish Messiah Yeshua, and
who follows the God of Israel,
adopted into God's Family, the Jewish People, and
naturalized as a loyal citizen of God's Kingdom, the Kingdom of Israel,
- regardless of the culture and ethnicity of their natural birth and
geographic priority: To most effectively bring God's Good News to every place on earth, put priority on the place that God has eternally chosen for His Name. Acts 1:8 is one clear statement of this aspect of God's strategy. It was a command from Yeshua to His Galilean followers to make "their" Jerusalem a very low evangelistic priority and to make HIS Jerusalem their first priority. He even makes their homeland of Galilee (a Jewish neighborhood) less of a priority than Samaria, a non-Jewish enclave within the Land of Israel, geographically closer to Jerusalem than Galilee. His statement about His strategy reads,
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;
and you will be My witnesses
Thus He emphasized His geographic priority even over His ethnic priority. To discern the priority of any inhabited spot on the earth's surface for evangelistic purposes, simply measure its distance from Jerusalem. The greater the distance, the lower the priority. Isn't that exactly what Acts 1:8 is saying? Strangely enough, this verse has usually been twisted by most Bible-believers to mean the opposite of what it says. Thus Satan has tricked us into bypassing God's strategy and replacing it with our own.
both in Jerusalem,
- and in all Judea
- and Samaria,
- and even to the remotest part of the earth."
Let's go back to doing it God's way. It's better.
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