Preach the Good News Everywhere
1 The early Christians preached the good news everywhere. They were so zealous that within 30 years of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Kingdom message had been “preached in all creation that is under heaven.”—Col. 1:23.
2 Jehovah’s zealous servants of today have the same objective—to reach everyone possible with the Kingdom good news. What can help us to accomplish this goal? More and more people are working full-time and are often not at home when we call. When they are not working, they may be traveling, shopping, or pursuing some form of recreation. How are deserving ones among them being reached with the Kingdom message?—Matt. 10:11.
3 Some are being contacted at their place of employment. Even small towns have a business section where many people spend most of the day. In large cities, people working in industrial parks or high-rise office buildings and those living in high-security apartments are receiving a witness—many for the first time. On weekends, some who have been contacted while relaxing at parks, recreation sites, campgrounds, or in cottages or while waiting in parking lots or in shopping malls have been found to be favorably disposed to the good news.
4 An increasing number of publishers are making a special effort to witness in public places, wherever people can be found. At first, these Witnesses felt hesitant and somewhat nervous because of being accustomed to preaching in more formal settings, as from house to house. How do they feel now?
5 “It has revitalized my ministry!” exclaims one experienced brother. Another adds: “It keeps me focused.” An older pioneer observes: “It has been invigorating mentally, physically, and spiritually, . . . and I’m still growing.” A publisher notes that he is now reaching many people who have never spoken to Jehovah’s Witnesses before. Young people are also getting into the spirit of this enjoyable work. A youth expresses himself this way: “It’s fun because you get to talk to so many people.” Another says: “I am placing more literature than ever before!” All of this is taking place in territory that is worked over and over again.
6 Traveling Overseers Are Taking the Lead: Recognizing that “the scene of this world is changing,” the Society recently suggested that traveling overseers adjust their field service schedule from week to week so that as many people as possible can be reached with the good news. (1 Cor. 7:31) For years, circuit overseers set aside weekday mornings to engage in the house-to-house work, while the afternoons were devoted to making return visits and conducting home Bible studies. In some areas, that schedule may still be practical. In others, little may be accomplished by working from house to house during certain weekday mornings. In such cases, the traveling overseer may decide that early in the day it would be good to engage in store-to-store work or street witnessing. Or he may arrange for small groups to witness in high-rise office buildings, shopping areas, parking lots, or other public places. By publishers making more effective use of the time available for field service, many more people will be contacted.
7 Reports indicate that this adjustment has been very well received by traveling overseers and publishers alike. A number of bodies of elders have invited the circuit overseer to train a few publishers in features of the work that need attention locally. It has been helpful for these publishers to accompany the traveling overseer as he engages in one of these activities. They, in turn, have been able to train others. (2 Tim. 2:2) As a result, more people are now being reached with the good news.
8 Of course, you do not have to wait for the circuit overseer to visit to try out some of these other ways of preaching. Here are various ideas that you may find practical in your territory:
9 Street Witnessing: ‘Where are all the people?’ we sometimes wonder as we visit a deserted residential area on a weekday morning. Some may be found running errands or shopping. Have you tried to reach them through street witnessing? When it is properly done, this feature of the ministry can be very productive. Rather than stand in one place with the magazines, it is best to approach people and strike up a friendly conversation. It is not necessary to give a witness to every passerby. Speak to the ones who are not in a rush, such as window-shoppers, those in parked automobiles, or people waiting for public transportation. At first, you may simply extend a friendly greeting and wait for a response. If the person is willing to talk, ask for his opinion on a subject you feel may interest him.
10 One traveling overseer invited six publishers to join him and his wife in street witnessing. With what results? “We had a wonderful morning!” he reports. “There were no not-at-homes. Eighty magazines and many tracts were placed. We had several stimulating conversations. One of the publishers, who was engaging in street work for the first time, exclaimed: ‘I have been in the truth for years and didn’t realize what I had been missing!’ By the end of the week, the congregation’s overstocked magazine supply was depleted.”
11 While serving the next congregation, the same traveling overseer learned that several publishers had shared in street witnessing early one morning but had only limited success. One sister had spoken to only two persons during the entire witnessing period, as everyone else she met was rushing off to work. The traveling overseer suggested that all of them return to the same street a little later in the morning. They did, and they stayed until noon. The sister who had had only two conversations earlier in the morning did much better when she returned. She placed 31 magazines and 15 brochures, obtained the names and addresses of seven individuals, and started two home Bible studies! Others in the group had similarly encouraging results.
12 When you find someone who shows interest, try to obtain the person’s name, address, and telephone number. Rather than ask for the information outright, you might say: “I’ve enjoyed this conversation. Is there any way we can continue it at another time?” Or ask: “Is there any way I can reach you at home?” Many contacted in this way agree to a return visit. Be sure to have an ample supply of handbills for use in inviting those who would like to attend our meetings.
13 If you speak to an interested person who lives in territory assigned to another congregation, you should pass the information along so that the brothers there can follow up on the interest. Would street witnessing be an effective way to spread the good news in your area? If so, review the article “Finding Interested Ones by Means of Effective Street Witnessing” in the July 1994 issue of Our Kingdom Ministry. Then arrange to engage in street witnessing at an appropriate time of day that will enable you to reach as many people as possible.
14 Witnessing on Public Transportation: One morning a number of pioneers decided to witness to people who were waiting for the bus near a local college. While they had some pleasant conversations, there was a problem. By the time the discussion got well under way, the bus would come, bringing the conversation to an abrupt halt. The pioneers solved the problem by boarding the bus and continuing to witness to the passengers as they traveled across town. At the end of the line, the pioneers would make the return bus trip, witnessing as they went. After several trips back and forth, they totaled up the results of their efforts: Over 200 magazines were placed and six Bible studies were started. Some passengers willingly gave their address and telephone number so that they could be visited at home. The next week, the pioneers returned to the bus stop and followed the same method as before. They placed 164 magazines and started one more Bible study. At one stop a passenger boarded the bus and took the only available seat—next to a pioneer. He looked at the brother and said with a smile: “I know, you have a Watchtower for me.”
15 Many publishers give an effective witness while traveling by bus, train, or airplane. How can you start a conversation with a passenger seated next to you? One 12-year-old publisher simply began reading a copy of Awake! on the bus, hoping to arouse the curiosity of a teenage girl seated next to him. It worked. The girl asked him what he was reading, and the youth answered that he was reading about the solution to problems young people have to face. He added that he had greatly benefited from the article and that it could help her too. She gladly accepted the magazines. Their conversation was overheard by two other youths who also asked for copies of the magazines. At this, the bus driver pulled over to the side of the road and asked why there was so much interest in these magazines. When he found out, he also accepted copies. Of course, none of this would have been possible if the young publisher had not had an ample supply of magazines to share with everyone who showed interest!
16 Witnessing in Parks and Parking Lots: Witnessing in parks and parking lots is an excellent way to reach people. Have you tried witnessing in the parking area of a shopping center? Always take a few moments to observe your surroundings. Look for someone who is not in a hurry or who is waiting in a parked car and try to initiate a friendly conversation. If the conversation continues, bring in the Kingdom message. Try working separately but with another publisher in the vicinity. Avoid carrying a large, bulky bag or in other ways attracting attention to your work. Be discreet. It may be best to spend only a short time in one parking lot and then move to another. If someone does not wish to converse with you, politely go on your way and look for someone else to approach. Using these methods, one brother placed 90 magazines in one month while witnessing in parking lots.
17 Some people go to a park to relax; others go there to play a game or to spend time with their children. Without unduly interfering with their activities, watch for an opportunity to give a witness. One brother began a conversation with the grounds keeper of a park and found that he was concerned about drugs and the future of his children. A home Bible study was started and was regularly conducted in the park.
18 Informal Witnessing in Shopping Malls: While it is not always possible to preach formally from store to store in shopping malls because of local restrictions on such activities, some publishers create opportunities to witness there informally. They sit down on a bench and strike up a friendly conversation with others who stop to rest. When interest is shown, they discreetly offer a tract or a magazine and endeavor to make arrangements for a return visit. After spending a few minutes witnessing in one section of the mall, they proceed to another and engage someone else in conversation. Of course, care should be taken not to attract undue attention while witnessing informally in this way.
19 When greeting a person, begin the conversation on a friendly note. If your listener responds, ask a question, then listen attentively as he expresses himself. Take a personal interest in what he is saying. Show that you value his opinion. Where possible, agree with him.
20 One sister had a delightful talk with an elderly woman by mentioning how high the cost of living has become. The woman readily agreed, and a lively conversation resulted. The sister was able to obtain the name and address of the woman, and a return visit was made that same week.
21 Working From Store to Store: Some congregations have business districts as part of their assigned territory. The brother caring for the territory may prepare special map cards of these heavily concentrated business sections. Any residential territory map cards that overlap them should clearly indicate that the businesses are not to be worked as part of the territory. In other territories, business places can be worked along with the residences. The elders may invite qualified publishers to work the business territories on a regular basis so that store-to-store work is not neglected.
22 If you are invited to share in this work and you have never done it before, a good way to ‘muster up boldness’ is to work a few smaller stores first; then, when you feel more confident, work the larger ones. (1 Thess. 2:2) When working from store to store, dress as you would if you were attending a meeting at the Kingdom Hall. If possible, enter the store when there are no customers waiting to be served. Ask to speak to the manager or to the person in charge. Be warm, and above all, be brief. There is no need to be apologetic. Many businesses are customer-oriented and have come to expect interruptions.
23 After greeting a storekeeper, you might say this: “Businesspeople have such full schedules that we rarely find them at home, so we are visiting you here at your place of business to leave you a very thought-provoking article to read.” Then make a comment or two about a magazine being offered.
24 Or you might try this when approaching a manager: “We have noticed that businesspeople make it a point to be well-informed. The latest issue of The Watchtower (or Awake!) features an article that affects all of us personally.” Explain what it is, and conclude by saying: “We are sure you will enjoy reading it.”
25 If there are employees, and it seems appropriate, you might add: “Would you mind if I gave the same brief presentation to your employees?” If permission is granted, remember you have promised to be brief, and the manager will expect you to keep your word. If any employees wish to enter into a long discussion, it would be best to call on them at their home.
26 Recently, a few publishers in a small town joined the circuit overseer in store-to-store work. Some of the publishers were apprehensive at first, having never done the work before; but they soon relaxed and began to enjoy it. In less than an hour, they spoke to 37 people and placed 24 magazines and 4 brochures. One brother observed that normally they would not be able to contact as many people in one month of house-to-house work as they did while working from store to store in that short time.
27 Creating Opportunities to Preach: Jesus did not confine his witnessing to formal settings. He spread the good news on every appropriate occasion. (Matt. 9:9; Luke 19:1-10; John 4:6-15) Notice how some publishers are creating opportunities to preach.
28 Some make it a practice to witness to parents who are waiting for their children near the entrance of a school. Since many parents arrive up to 20 minutes early, there is time to engage them in a stimulating conversation on a Scriptural topic.
29 Many pioneers are conscious of reaching people who may have a special interest in a particular subject that is dealt with in our magazines. For example, one sister got good responses calling on six schools in her congregation’s territory with the series “Schools in Crisis,” which appeared in the December 22, 1995, Awake! She also visited family-care services with magazines on family life and child abuse and was given a standing appointment to return with future issues dealing with similar topics. The response she received at the unemployment office to the March 8, 1996, Awake! on unemployment was described as “overwhelming.”
30 A district overseer reports that he and his wife regularly witness informally while doing their grocery shopping. They shop at a time of day when the store is not overly crowded, and the customers are proceeding up and down the aisles at a leisurely pace. They report many fine conversations.
31 Many publishers report good results while witnessing to people in public laundries. They do not simply leave magazines when no one is there. Their goal is to reach people with the good news, so they endeavor to speak personally to those who are using the facility.
32 In some localities, selected publishers have authorization to witness at airports. At times, they have had the joy of witnessing to international travelers who live in countries where Jehovah’s people are few in number. Where interest is found, they have offered a tract or the magazines.
33 If not permitted to witness personally to the tenants of high-security apartments in the congregation’s territory, some have made a practice of witnessing tactfully to the security guards on duty or to the managers in the rental offices. The same method is used in private, gated communities. A circuit overseer and a few publishers visited seven apartment complexes in this way. In each case, they told the manager that although they are not permitted to call at the apartments in our usual way, they did not want him to miss the information in the latest journals. Managers at all seven complexes gladly accepted the magazines and asked for the next issues as well! The residents of such complexes are then contacted by telephone. You will find practical information on the subject of telephone witnessing in the insert “Telephone Witnessing—A Way to Reach Many” in the August 1993 Our Kingdom Ministry.
34 Exert Yourself to Preach Everywhere: Living up to our dedication includes feeling a sense of urgency about our assignment to preach the Kingdom message. In order to reach people at a time that is convenient for them, we need to set aside our personal preferences so that we “might by all means save some.” All dedicated servants of Jehovah want to be able to say, as did the apostle Paul: “I do all things for the sake of the good news, that I may become a sharer of it with others.”—1 Cor. 9:22, 23.
35 Paul wrote further: “Most gladly, therefore, will I rather boast as respects my weaknesses, that the power of the Christ may like a tent remain over me. . . . For when I am weak, then I am powerful.” (2 Cor. 12:9, 10) In other words, none of us could accomplish this work in our own strength. We need to pray to Jehovah for his powerful holy spirit. If we pray to God for strength, we can be confident that he will answer our prayers. Then our love for people will move us to look for opportunities to preach the good news to them, wherever they may be found. During the coming week, why not try one of the suggestions featured in this insert?