Summary: Do our modern evangelistic techniques match up to God’s plan?
- I don’t recall ever hearing a sermon on this passage, which is ironic because when you dig into it, it’s a pretty important one.
Harvest Job Assignments: Our job is to sow seeds and bring in the harvest; God’s job is the growth.
- Mark 4:26-29.
A. We sow seed.
- Going back to the four soils parable that Jesus just told, the presumption here would be that the seed is the Word of God.
B. God brings the growth.
- God brings the growth in the person’s heart.
- How it happens the farmer doesn’t understand – he just knows that it’s happening.
- See also 1 Corinthians 3:6, 7.
- John 6:44 – No one comes unless the Father draws them.
- In some ways, this is a freeing passage for us as the church. Growth is not our responsibility.
- Find freedom in the fact that you don’t have to generate growth. Growth is God’s job.
C. We bring in the harvest.
- Once grown, we’re the ones who bring in the harvest.
- We share with them the way of Christ and how to be saved.
- A major shortcoming of modern evangelism: much of our teaching about witnessing focuses on trying to do God’s job.
- We tend to focus our energy in trying to generate or hurry the growth along.
- Rick Warren tells about a tomato producer who found a way to “improve” his business. He would take the green tomatoes and after picking them he would run them under a light (I think it was an ultraviolet light). The light caused the tomatoes to become red. He could then sell the tomatoes more quickly. The only problem, of course, was that the tomatoes didn’t taste good because they weren’t ripe.
- Are we trying to artificially "hurry the harvest"?
Shortcomings Of Our Modern Evangelistic Methods:
- Rather than concentrating on “spreading seeds” and looking for opportunities to harvest, we concentrate a lot of our effort on generating growth.
- Here are some specifics on ways that we do that:
1. The gospel message is often compromised to improve “sales.”
- Many contemporary gospel presentations simply focus on “believe in Jesus” and tell folks that if they do that, then everything is alright. There is no talk of repentance. There is no explanation of the necessity of following Jesus.
- When the goal is a “sale” and you feel it’s your job to “make the sale,” there is inevitably going to be a temptation to leave out the hard parts of faith in Christ. Following Jesus is the best way, but it is not the easiest way. That, however, is a fact that is best left out if your goal is “closing the sale.”
- Why does so much of modern evangelism feel like sales?
2. There is an emphasis on knowing a “canned presentation.”
- You’ve got your Roman Road or 4 Spiritual Laws and you just go through your presentation with each person you meet.
- Compare Jesus in conversations.
- John 4:1-42 – The Samaritan woman – Jesus engaged her with conversations and questions.
- John 3:1-21 – Nicodemus – Jesus engages in conversation and questions.
3. There is lots of pressure to “close the deal.”
- John 6:66 - Jesus letting people walk away.
- Some of our techniques tend toward arm-twisting and manipulation.
- Many evangelistic seminars overly emphasize the need to push for a decision.
- The results of our evangelistic efforts certainly don’t indicate a healthy harvest.
- Could all of this be part of the reason that we have the problem with nominal Christians that we have today?
- Rick Warren has said that if the fruit is ripe, you don’t have to yank it.
- This presumes that getting the person saved is our responsibility and not God’s.
- Could this be part of the reason that we have so many false starts among “believers”? People who “get saved,” but then never exhibit any evidence of that? Of course, part of this truth goes to the parable of the four soils – you’re always going to have some who don’t come to fruitfulness. But are our numbers worse because we’re trying to do God’s job?
4. We preach a lot about witnessing, but almost no one actually does it.
- Most Christians feel uneasy about pressuring their friends and family. Maybe part of the reason we don’t want to do it is that it’s not something that God has asked us to do.
- There is a reason most of us don’t work in sales – we don’t like arm-twisting!
- Examining this parable and the qualifications for the workers, I think we can actually be the kind of people it calls for: all of us meet the qualifications that are laid out in the parable: clueless (v. 27 – “does not know how”) and asleep on the job (v. 27).