Effective Ministry Leading to More Disciples
“These were his gifts: some to be . . . evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip God’s people for work in his service.”—EPHESIANS 4:11, 12, The New English Bible.
1. How did Christ feel toward people?
CHRIST JESUS was no hermit. His ministry was totally oriented to people. In the four Gospel accounts Jesus is nearly always involved with people. During his travels he saw their true condition and he felt deep compassion for them. If you are a Christian minister, do you feel compassion toward the people you meet?—Matthew 9:35, 36.
2. How do Jehovah’s Witnesses imitate Jesus’ example?
2 The Christian ministry today must also involve people. Being conscious of that fact, Jehovah’s Witnesses have a flexible approach in their service to God. All around the world they can be seen talking to people—on the streets, at the doors, in busy shopping areas, around bus, subway and railway stations, in factory, office and business districts. Wherever people are to be found, the Witnesses are there serving as evangelizers. Why so? Because the word “evangel” comes from the Greek word euaggelion, which means “good news.” Like Christ, every Christian witness of Jehovah must be a minister of the good news, an evangelizer. Therefore every witness must also be involved with people.—2 Timothy 4:5; Ephesians 4:11, 12.
3. What is the most effective method of Christian ministry?
3 How should this evangelizing work be effectively carried out? Is the radio-and-TV approach used by so many religions the real answer? Well, just ask yourself, Can the radio and TV answer your questions spontaneously? No—those, in a sense, are impersonal media of communication. The most effective ministry is still that which was practiced by Jesus and his disciples, face to face with the seekers of truth. But it takes time and effort, which Paul indicated with a simple illustration: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God kept making it grow; so that neither is he that plants anything nor is he that waters, but God who makes it grow.”—1 Corinthians 3:5-7.
4. What three stages are involved in effective ministry?
4 These words imply three stages in the Christian ministry—planting, cultivating and reaping. How so? First there is the planting, the initial contact with the Kingdom good news. Then comes the cultivation, including watering what was planted. How is that done? By further conversations to answer questions and resolve doubts. This often leads to a regular Bible study that deeply implants Bible truth in the person’s mind and heart; with God’s blessing, growth occurs. The final result is another active disciple of Christ Jesus, another minister. Now how can all of us as ministers have that happy blessing of reaping a disciple?
5. What will help us to be effective ministers?
5 As our previous article stated, Jesus taught his disciples the practical way to perform their ministry. And Paul spoke of his “methods in connection with Christ Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 4:17) The string of congregations that he helped to establish around Asia Minor and Greece are eloquent testimony to his success. We have already covered some of his (and Jesus’) methods, but are there more that can be used effectively today?
What Is the Basis? And the Message?
6. What must be the cornerstone of our ministry?
6 On what must the Christian message be based? On human wisdom and philosophy? Paul’s letter to Timothy gives a clear answer: “You, however, continue in the things that you learned and were persuaded to believe, knowing . . . that from infancy you have known the holy writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through the faith in connection with Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching.” Clearly, the Bible, the Word of God, has to be the cornerstone of our ministry.—2 Timothy 3:14-17.
7, 8. How did Jesus and Paul set an example in the use of scriptures?
7 In this respect Christ Jesus set the lead—he constantly quoted the Scriptures; the apostle Paul did likewise. For instance, did he turn up in Thessalonica teaching Greek philosophy? No, for as the account tells us: “So according to Paul’s custom he went inside to them, and for three sabbaths he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving by references that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead.”—Acts 17:1-3.
8 What was the result? “Some of them became believers.” Therefore, following Paul’s method, our preaching today must be based on God’s Word. That is why we have a suggested Bible theme for conversation in our ministry. In that way the truth of God’s Word can strike a responsive chord in those who are conscious of their spiritual need.—Acts 17:4.
9, 10. (a) What must be the theme of our preaching today? (b) Give examples from Paul’s ministry.
9 Now the next question is, What message should we preach? Well, what was the theme of Christ’s ministry? Jesus was well aware of his commission, for he said: “Also to other cities I must declare the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this I was sent forth.” Referring to the last days of our present system, he said: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.”—Luke 4:43; Matthew 24:14.
10 This same emphasis is found in Paul’s preaching. For example, to the Jews in a synagogue “he spoke with boldness for three months, giving talks and using persuasion concerning the kingdom of God.” To those in Rome, ‘he explained the matter by bearing thorough witness concerning the kingdom of God.’ Therefore “the kingdom of God” must be the thrust of our Christian ministry today.—Acts 19:8; 28:23, 31.
Do You Attack or Attract?
11. How do people often react when faced by a Witness, and how can we counteract that? (Acts 17:17, 18)
11 In the first century, people were divided by religion, race and nationality just as they are today. (Acts 2:7-11) That means that most people have their own preconceived ideas when it comes to matters of religion. Often they feel threatened and go on the defensive when they meet a Witness. How can we change that? By the use of kindness, tact and adaptability.
12, 13. How did Paul speak to idol worshipers in Athens? How did they react?
12 Notice how Paul handled such a situation in idol-worshiping Athens. His first reaction at seeing so many idols was one of irritation. When he stood up to speak in the Areopagus, did he immediately attack their idol worship? His introduction was: “Men of Athens, I behold that in all things you seem to be more given to the fear of the deities than others are. For instance, while passing along and carefully observing your objects of veneration I also found an altar on which had been inscribed ‘To an Unknown God.’ Therefore what you are unknowingly giving godly devotion to, this I am publishing to you.”—Acts 17:16-23.
13 Did Paul alienate his audience with those opening words? Not at all. His approach was tactful, not dogmatic. He did not condemn them, even though from God’s viewpoint their worship was useless. He was there to preach the Kingdom message, not to attack them. He recognized their strong religious feelings and used these as a base to move into his theme of the true God and His representative, the resurrected Jesus. What was the result of this tactful approach? Well, although some of them mocked, “others said: ‘We will hear you about this even another time.’” Yes, he had an invitation for a return visit!—Acts 17:22-32.
14. How can we apply Paul’s example in our ministry?
14 How can we apply this method to our ministry today? In the first place, we should be alert to observe the telltale signs of a person’s religious outlook—maybe by some religious item he is wearing or that is on view on the door or in the lobby of the home. Thus, just as Paul did, we can often have a good idea of the other person’s religious viewpoint. This gives us a lead for a friendly, interest-arousing but noncontroversial introduction. Remember we are visiting the person primarily to talk about God’s Kingdom—not to get involved right away in doctrinal discussion. We want to win people, not just arguments.—Compare 2 Timothy 2:23-26.
15. What other fine lessons can we learn from Jesus’ ministry? (Luke 10:38-42)
15 What else can we learn from Christ’s example? When we examine his ministry we are bound to recognize his conviction and simplicity. He was not fazed by any situation but spoke up on behalf of the Kingdom of God in all kinds of circumstances, whether favorable or unfavorable. He could preach in the intimacy of a home or stand up before a crowd and deliver a sermon—without notes, Bible or sound equipment! He also had the common touch. The lowly people felt they could approach him. He spoke their language of fields and crops, of nets and fishing. His illustrations were down to earth even though their meaning was deep. Do we manifest those same fine qualities in our ministry?—Matthew 4:18-25; 13:1-33; Luke 5:1-3.
How to Reach the Heart
16. Why must we be qualified teachers?
16 Normally it takes time and careful study for a person to become convinced of the Bible’s message about God’s Kingdom. That is why we have the arrangement of regular home Bible studies, free of charge or obligation, with any person who wishes to investigate God’s promises through Christ. Such studies extend over quite a period and they cover many subjects and questions. This certainly means we have to be qualified teachers. But what really is the essence of teaching?—1 Timothy 4:16.
17. What was one method Jesus used to reach the heart?
17 Once again we turn to Jesus for the answer. How did he teach? Just examine, please, the following texts and see if you recognize Jesus’ simple system for teaching others: Luke 6:9, 32-34, 39-42. What was it? He asked discerning questions. Why did he do that? To help his audience to reason and to examine themselves in the light of his teachings. With his questions he tactfully reached their hearts. They had to show whether they genuinely wanted to be his followers or whether their motives in listening were superficial.—Matthew 13:10-17; Mark 8:34-38.
18. (a) Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses use questions so often in their publications? (b) What pattern should we not use extensively while teaching others?
18 Nearly all the Bible study aids that Jehovah’s Witnesses use in their ministry have questions for each paragraph of text explanation. This is a teaching aid that helps those studying the Bible to express themselves in their own words. Then it becomes clear whether the person understands the material or not. However, although Jesus asked questions on many occasions, he never turned it into a mere guessing game by supplying the first word or syllable of an answer. Have you sometimes found yourself falling into that pattern with some Bible students? Why is it not a good method to use with regularity? Because knowledge of God and Christ that leads to salvation should be based on reason and logic, not trivial guesswork.—John 17:3; 1 John 5:20.
19, 20. What word of caution is necessary here? Why?
19 A word of caution is necessary at this point. If we preach and teach effectively in fruitful territory, eventually we produce disciples. But whose disciples are they? Should we think they are “my sheep”? And should we allow ourselves as ministers to be placed on a pedestal of adulation? Note how Paul and Barnabas reacted when the people of Lystra wanted to treat them like gods. They cried out to the crowd: “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are humans having the same infirmities as you do, and are declaring the good news to you, for you to turn from these vain things to the living God.”—Acts 14:14, 15.
20 Paul and Barnabas did not try to draw attention to themselves. Even though Paul counseled Christians to imitate him, as he imitated Christ, he did not want them to be his followers. The ministry we perform must always be to the glory of God, not men.—1 Corinthians 3:6, 7; 11:1.
21. Why do disciples also become ministers?
21 In time, disciples become ministers. Why does that come about? Well, what happens when we have some really good news to tell? Can we keep it to ourselves? To the contrary, we are bursting to tell someone else. As Jesus said: “A good man brings forth good out of the good treasure of his heart, . . . for out of the heart’s abundance his mouth speaks.” That is how it is with the good news of the Kingdom. The disciple whose heart is touched wants to teach others and join in the ministry on a regular and voluntary basis. Dedication to God and baptism follow. Thus the self-repeating chain of ministers continues, in line with the principle of Paul’s counsel to Timothy: “These things commit to faithful men, who, in turn, will be adequately qualified to teach others.”—Luke 6:45; 2 Timothy 2:2.
22. (a) Why has Jehovah produced an organization of teachers and evangelizers? (b) What future work must yet be accomplished?
22 Today, around the earth, Jehovah God has the best trained organization of educators, evangelizers, ministers of the 20th century. More than 2,600,000 of them are participating in the final witness that is being given before the end comes upon this evil system. But this growing band is being prepared for an even greater challenge—the education of billions who will come back in the resurrection. Are you prepared to participate in such a marvelous privilege? Is your ministry productive now? Let it be our prayer that our light may shine to God’s glory, as we serve as effective ministers.—Matthew 5:16; John 5:28, 29.
Points You Have Covered
□ What is the most effective way of preaching the good news?
□ On what must our teaching be based? What is the message?
□ What qualities are needed to make people listen to us?
□ How did Jesus reach the heart of his listeners?
□ What caution is needed in our teaching others?
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Jehovah’s Witnesses preach wherever people are to be found
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When witnessing, we should observe indications of a person’s religion