FIVE EVANGELISTIC PRIORITIESby Glen
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
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?
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
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
On the contrary, it has the power of God for good for everyone who
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
- regardless of the culture and ethnicity of their natural birth
- 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
- 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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