“Do the work of an evangelizer, fully accomplish your ministry.”—2 TIM. 4:5.
HOW WOULD YOU ANSWER?
What is an evangelizer?
Why do people need to hear the good news?
What do successful evangelizers do?
AN EVANGELIZER is someone who tells good news. The first and foremost Evangelizer is Jehovah God. Immediately after the rebellion of our first parents, Jehovah announced the good news that the serpent—actually, Satan the Devil—will be destroyed. (Gen. 3:15) Throughout the centuries, Jehovah inspired faithful men to write down details about how his name will be cleared of reproach, how the damage caused by Satan will be undone, and how humans can regain the opportunities forfeited by Adam and Eve.
2 Angels too are evangelizers. They themselves tell good news, and they assist others in spreading good news. (Luke 1:19; 2:10; Acts 8:26, 27, 35; Rev. 14:6) What about the archangel Michael? While on earth as Jesus, he set the standard for human evangelizers. Why, Jesus built his life around spreading the good news!—Luke 4:16-21.
3 Jesus commanded his disciples to be evangelizers. (Matt. 28:19, 20; Acts 1:8) The apostle Paul urged his coworker Timothy: “Do the work of an evangelizer, fully accomplish your ministry.” (2 Tim. 4:5) What is the good news that we as Jesus’ followers spread? It includes the reassuring truth that our heavenly Father, Jehovah, loves us. (John 3:16; 1 Pet. 5:7) A key way that Jehovah God expresses his love is through his Kingdom. Therefore, we gladly tell others that all who submit to Kingdom rule, obey God, and do what is righteous can have a relationship with him as his friends. (Ps. 15:1, 2) In fact, it is Jehovah’s purpose to do away with all unjust suffering. He will also remove the pain caused by memories of past suffering. What good news! (Isa. 65:17) Since we are evangelizers, let us consider the answers to two important questions: Why is it vital that people hear the good news today? And how can we successfully fulfill our role as evangelizers?
WHY DO PEOPLE NEED TO HEAR THE GOOD NEWS?
4 Imagine being told that your father has abandoned you as well as the rest of your family. Suppose those who claimed to know him say that he was aloof, secretive, and cruel. Some might even have you believe that it is no use trying to reestablish contact with your father because he is dead. In effect, many are told similar stories about God. They are taught that God is a mystery, that he is unknowable, or that he is cruel. For example, some religious leaders claim that God will punish bad people forever in a place of torment. Others attribute to God the suffering caused by natural disasters. Although these events kill good people as well as bad, they are said to be punishment from God.
5 Others assert that God does not exist. In this regard, consider the theory of evolution. Many who champion it declare that life came about without any intelligent direction. They claim that there is no Creator. Some have even said that a human is just another animal, so it should come as no surprise when a person acts in an animalistic fashion. They argue that the strong who cruelly dominate the weak are just following so-called laws of nature. So it is not surprising that many believe that injustice will always be with us. Therefore, those who put faith in evolution are robbed of true hope.
6 Without doubt, the theory of evolution and false doctrines have contributed to the misery that mankind has experienced during the last days. (Rom. 1:28-31; 2 Tim. 3:1-5) These human teachings have brought no real and lasting good news. Instead, as the apostle Paul notes, they have left people “in darkness mentally, and alienated from the life that belongs to God.” (Eph. 4:17-19) In addition, the theory of evolution and false doctrines have hindered people from accepting the good news originating with God.—Read Ephesians 2:11-13.
7 To become reconciled to God, people must first be convinced that Jehovah exists and that there are good reasons for drawing close to him. We can help them to gain that knowledge by encouraging them to examine creation. When people study creation with an open mind, they learn of God’s wisdom and power. (Rom. 1:19, 20) In an effort to help people develop a sense of awe when they think about what our Grand Creator has accomplished, we can use the two brochures Was Life Created? and The Origin of Life—Five Questions Worth Asking. Even so, those who learn only from creation will not find answers to some of life’s most perplexing questions, such as these: Why does God allow suffering? What is God’s purpose for the earth? Does God care about me as an individual?
8 The only way that people can fully grasp the good news about God and his purpose is by studying the Bible. What a privilege we have to help people find answers to their questions! To reach the heart of our listeners, though, we need to do more than inform them of facts; we must persuade them. (2 Tim. 3:14) We can become more persuasive by following Jesus’ example. Why was he so successful? One reason is that he used questions effectively. How can we imitate him?
SUCCESSFUL EVANGELIZERS USE QUESTIONS EFFECTIVELY
9 Why should we, like Jesus, use questions in the evangelizing work? Well, consider this scenario: Your doctor tells you that he has good news. He can cure your illness if you undergo serious surgery. You might believe him. But what if he makes that promise even before he asks you any questions about your health? Then it is unlikely that you will have confidence in him. No matter how talented the doctor may be, he needs to ask questions and listen to what your symptoms are before he can give any meaningful help. Similarly, if we are to help people accept the good news of the Kingdom, we must master the art of asking effective questions. Only after we gain a clear picture of their spiritual condition can we assist them.
10 Jesus knew that well-chosen questions not only help a teacher learn about a student but also get the listener involved in the discussion. For example, when Jesus wanted to teach his disciples a lesson in humility, he first put a thought-provoking question to them. (Mark 9:33) To teach Peter how to reason on principles, Jesus asked him a multiple-choice question. (Matt. 17:24-26) On another occasion, when Jesus wanted to draw up what was in the heart of his disciples, he asked a series of viewpoint questions. (Read Matthew 16:13-17.) By using questions and making statements, Jesus did more than impart facts. He touched hearts, motivating people to act in harmony with the good news.
11 When we imitate Jesus by using questions effectively, we do at least three things. We discover how we can best help people, we overcome potential conversation stoppers, and we teach humble ones how they can benefit themselves. Consider three scenarios showing how we can use questions to good effect.
12 Scenario 1: As a parent, what would you do if your teenage child expressed concern about being able to defend his belief in creation when talking with a classmate? No doubt you would want to help him to be confident about sharing the good news. So rather than criticizing him or immediately offering advice, why not imitate Jesus’ example and ask some viewpoint questions? How could you do so?
13 After reading with your child portions from the brochure The Origin of Life—Five Questions Worth Asking, you could ask what arguments he finds most thought provoking. Encourage him to discover his own reasons why he is persuaded to believe in a Creator and why he wants to do God’s will. (Rom. 12:2) Let your child know that his reasons do not have to be exactly the same as yours.
14 Explain to your child that when talking with a classmate, your youngster could follow the pattern you have demonstrated. That is, he could review some facts and then ask leading or viewpoint questions. For instance, a classmate could be asked to read the box on page 21 of the Origin of Life brochure. Your child could then ask, “Is it true that the capacity of DNA for storing information still has no parallel in today’s computer age?” The classmate will likely answer yes. Then your child could ask, “If human computer technicians cannot achieve such results, how could mindless matter do so on its own?” To help your child become more comfortable when conversing with others about his faith, you can regularly conduct practice sessions with him. If you train him to use questions effectively, you will help him to fulfill his role as an evangelizer.
15 Scenario 2: In our witnessing work, we meet those who doubt that God exists. For example, a person might tell us that he is an atheist. Instead of letting that comment stop the conversation, we could respectfully ask how long he has been an atheist and what caused him to adopt that view. After listening to his answers and complimenting him on giving the matter serious thought, we could ask if he felt that it would be wrong to read material that presented evidence that life was created. If the householder is open-minded, he would likely say that it would be unreasonable to refuse to look at such evidence. We could then offer him either the brochure Was Life Created? or the one entitled The Origin of Life—Five Questions Worth Asking. Tactful questions, kindly asked, can act as a key that opens a person’s heart to the good news.
16 Scenario 3: When conducting a Bible study, we might simply have the student repeat answers printed in a Bible study aid. If we do so, however, we could stunt the spiritual growth of the student. Why? Because a student who repeats answers without meditating on them is unlikely to grow deep spiritual roots. He could easily end up being like a plant that withers under the heat of opposition. (Matt. 13:20, 21) To help avoid that outcome, we need to ask our student how he feels about what he is learning. Try to discover if he agrees with the points made. More important, have him say why he agrees or disagrees. Then help him to reason on the Scriptures so that he will eventually be able to arrive at correct conclusions by himself. (Heb. 5:14) If we use questions effectively, individuals we teach are more likely to be solidly rooted in the faith and to be able to resist the efforts of those who would oppose or mislead them. (Col. 2:6-8) What else can we do to fulfill our role as evangelizers?
SUCCESSFUL EVANGELIZERS ASSIST ONE ANOTHER
17 Jesus sent his disciples out in the preaching work by twos. (Mark 6:7; Luke 10:1) Later, the apostle Paul mentioned “fellow workers” who had “striven side by side with [him] in the good news.” (Phil. 4:3) In harmony with that Scriptural precedent, in 1953, Kingdom publishers began a program of training others in the ministry.
18 When you accompany another Christian in the ministry, how can you work as a team? (Read 1 Corinthians 3:6-9.) In your Bible, look up the scriptures that your partner is using. Keep your attention turned to your partner and to the householder when either of them is talking. Follow the discussion closely in case there is a need for you to assist your partner to overcome an objection. (Eccl. 4:12) A word of caution, though: Resist the urge to interrupt your partner when he or she is using an effective line of reasoning. Your unrestrained enthusiasm might discourage your partner and confuse the householder. At times, it may be appropriate to join in the discussion. But if you choose to say something, limit yourself to a brief comment or two. Then allow your partner to resume the lead.
19 How can you and your partner assist each other while walking from door to door? Why not use the time to discuss ways that your presentation might be improved? Be careful that your comments about those living in your territory are not discouraging. Likewise, avoid the trap of harping on the negative traits of fellow evangelizers. (Prov. 18:24) We do well to remember that we are earthen vessels. Jehovah has shown us extraordinary kindness by entrusting us with the treasure of the ministry of the good news. (Read 2 Corinthians 4:1, 7.) So let all of us show appreciation for that treasure by doing our best to fulfill our role as evangelizers.
1. Why can Jehovah be called the first and foremost Evangelizer?
2. (a) What part do angels play in connection with the evangelizing work? (b) What standard did Jesus set for evangelizers?
3. (a) What is the good news that we spread? (b) What questions are of interest to us as evangelizers?
4. What untrue stories are people sometimes told regarding God?
5, 6. How have the theory of evolution and false doctrines affected people?
7, 8. What is the only way that people can fully grasp the good news?
9. If we are to help people in a spiritual way, what must we do?
10, 11. What may we be able to accomplish by imitating Jesus’ way of teaching?
12-14. How can you help a child to be more confident about sharing the good news? Give an example.
15. How might we use questions in an effort to help an atheist?
16. Why should we not settle for having a Bible student read answers from a Bible study aid?
17, 18. When accompanying someone in the ministry, how can we work as a team?
19. What do we do well to remember, and why?
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To reach the heart of our listeners, we must persuade them
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Effective questions help people to discover their own reasons for their beliefs
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Questions open their mind and heart to accept the truth
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Questions also help them to reason so as to arrive at the correct conclusions