OUTREACH TAKEAWAYS (SIXTH IN A SERIES)
These brief topics were written to help Christians think about the ways in which they share the Gospel with others. Cut this page out if you like and post it on your refrigerator. Decide for yourself whether this is a helpful addition to your “outreach repertoire.”
THE STARFISH APPROACH
An old man, walking the beach at dawn, noticed a young man ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Catching up with the youth, he asked what he was doing. The young man said that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun. “But the beach goes on for miles and miles, and there are millions of starfish,” countered the man. “How can your effort make any difference?” The young man looked at the starfish in his hand and then threw it to safety in the waves.
“It makes a difference to this one,” he said.
Most of us get the jitters when it comes to sharing our faith. What can we do to grow in our confidence to tell others about Jesus? Start with the Starfish Approach—simply share the Gospel with one person at a time.
If you can make a difference in the life of just one person by sharing your faith, then you are an evangelist! Of course, having a close connection to Jesus yourself is crucial. Our Savior says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Just as a branch connected to the vine gives evidence that it is alive by producing a bunch of grapes, so Christians connected to Christ by faith will naturally demonstrate their spiritual life by giving testimony about Jesus to others. Apart from Him we can’t do anything, including sharing our faith. Our connection with Jesus stays close as we stay
in His Word. God’s Word is the source of knowledge about our Savior and the power to give us confidence to tell of Him.
Evangelism is sharing the Good News of Jesus with people. There are many books and programs to instruct and assist us with evangelism. Some of these may be helpful, but the impression that they can leave with us is that evangelism is quite complicated. Essentially, though, it is not. There are three basic things needed for evangelism to take place: the Gospel, people who have the Gospel, and people who need to hear the Gospel.
God has revealed the Gospel in the Bible. That’s the first thing needed. By God’s grace, we have it. The Holy Spirit used the Gospel to bring us to faith in Christ. That’s two. The third thing for evangelism is people who need Jesus. They are people who don’t have faith in Him, or they are people who may confess Jesus but do not actively participate in a Christian church. there are millions of these people in North America alone. And the number is growing. The immensity of the job before us can be overwhelming, but remember that God works on the hearts of people one at a time.
Sharing the Gospel can make a difference for the people that you know who need Jesus. Identify them. Are there some among your family? How about people with whom you work or those that share leisure time with you? Do you have neighbors whose cars regularly stay stationary in their driveways on Sunday mornings? Do you know people in the organizations or groups that you attend who have little to do with Jesus? Pray for them! Speak to them! Bring the Word to them! You can’t evangelize the whole world, but you don’t need to. If the Word you speak plants the seed of faith in even a single heart, imagine the immense eternal difference to that individual! Would not your entire life have been worth living if God used you to bring even a single person into His kingdom of grace?
Use the Starfish Approach! To the question, “How can your effort make any difference?” you can answer, “It makes a difference to this one!”