Jesus interacted with many different kinds of people from many different walks of life in his three year ministry. He interacted with adults and children, Jews and Gentiles, men and women, the religious and the irreligious, the healthy and the sick. In thinking through the best ways to do evangelism and ministry, looking to how Jesus related to the people he came to save is a great example for us to follow. Evangelism involves much more, though not less, than repeating a message or telling a story. Evangelism involves interacting with various kinds of people in various kinds of situations. Everyone is not like us and effective evangelism involves getting to know people and dealing with them where they are. In order to become more effective evangelists in our community, Jesus, the evangelist par excellence serves as an example of how we should interact with people for the sake of the gospel. I gathered the following list from a class I took at Boyce College this summer lectured by Bruce Carlton. Here are 25 insights that we can glean from Jesus’ interactions with various people in various situations.
- Jesus goes where people are.
- Jesus sees people as people.
- Jesus treats all people as having needs regardless of social, racial, or economic status.
- When there is an opportunity, Jesus seeks to respond immediately.
- Jesus is able to discern when people show spiritual interests.
- Jesus identifies genuine seekers and spends time with them personally.
- Jesus demonstrates to people that he cares about them.
- Jesus is culturally sensitive.
- Jesus commends people for their positive qualities.
- Jesus listens to people’s stories.
- Jesus shows interests in what others are interested.
- Jesus communicates to people on their level.
- Jesus often asks probing questions.
- Jesus always has a positive attitude.
- Jesus appeals to Scripture.
- Jesus shares his own testimony.
- Jesus avoids arguing with people.
- Jesus confronts sin.
- Jesus presents the gospel clearly.
- Jesus always displays God’s grace.
- Jesus ministers to the whole person: physical, emotional, and spiritual.
- Jesus does not allow himself to become distracted from what he wants to communicate.
- Jesus always brings people to a point of making a decision.
- Jesus challenges people to exercise faith.
- Jesus respects people’s freedom.
One thing I have gleaned from the way Jesus evangelized and did ministry is this: I have a lot to learn.
Mathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies, Dec. ’14). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife Erica and their dog, Simba.