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  1. Wasted Evangelism January 18, 2014 at 6:35 am

    Thankfully this, from God’s view, is simply not biblically correct. I for one was judged as not receptive to the gospel, the least likely to ever accept the gospel, yet God broke through. Plus, this portrays a very modern, narrow view of what the gospel is; perhaps the American gospel, not the gospel as presented by the Gospels. Furthermore, we have no idea who is and who isn’t “ready” and “receptive” to the gospel. This piece is more marketing than Matthew, Mark, Luke or even John. We should be wasting our evangelism.

  2. I heard you share this message years ago, and the truth and wisdom of it isn’t wasted on me. while we can’t be selective of who we offer to exlain the gospel to, like the disciples, we aren’t required to spend our time with the contempteous and unreceptive.

  3. If we we’re to judge Jesus based upon how many direct converts He made during His tenure on earth, He would be found as a failure.

  4. The parable of the sower is not about how to evangelize. It was given to the disciples to provide them with comfort and understanding on how God’s word (seed) is often received. No doubt the disciples were feeling discouraged at how few actually did receive the truth and Jesus was there to provide comfort. That is what the parable is about. This article is using the parable out of context. Remember, we exegete for meaning lest we sacrifice truth.

    This is not the only red flag in the article. “People in transition and those under tension are the most receptive.” We must conclude this is a statement based on experience. We are commanded to preach the word to every living creature (Mark 16:15). It is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, not us, that provides the miracle of regeneration. In transition, out of transition, changes, no changes. How are we to determine when the Father draws men? Echoing the words of Paul to Timothy.. Be “ready in season and out of season” meaning always be ready. He doesn’t say, find people going through transition and focus on them.

    This all goes back to proper theology. Our job is not to grow the church. Yes, let me repeat.. our job as evangelists is not to grow the church. Our job is to preach the truth and train in righteousness. If we grow in numbers so be it. If we shrink in numbers so be it. God does the work, we simply deliver the gospel message. Preaching the truth, focusing our work to what brings God glory and not men glory is the basis for growing a church biblically. This is the thrust of every good preachers ministry.

    Do we throw pearls to swine? No, but that’s not what this article is about is it? We are not a respecter of men. We are not to analyze who we think might repent. We call all men to repent and believe. The rest is up to Him. To Him be the glory!

  5. The parable of the sower is not about how to evangelize. It was given to the disciples to provide them with comfort and understanding on how God’s word (seed) is often received. No doubt the disciples were feeling discouraged at how few actually did receive the truth and Jesus was there to provide comfort. That is what the parable is about. This article is using the parable out of context. Remember, we exegete for meaning lest we sacrifice truth.

    This is not the only red flag in the article. “People in transition and those under tension are the most receptive.” We must conclude this is a statement based on experience. We are commanded to preach the word to every living creature (Mark 16:15). It is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, not us, that provides the miracle of regeneration. In transition, out of transition, changes, no changes. How are we to determine when the Father draws men? Echoing the words of Paul to Timothy.. Be “ready in season and out of season” meaning always be ready. He doesn’t say, find people going through transition and focus on them.

    This all goes back to proper theology. Our job is not to grow the church. Yes, let me repeat.. our job as evangelists is not to grow the church. Our job is to preach the truth and train in righteousness. If we grow in numbers so be it. If we shrink in numbers so be it. God does the work, we simply deliver the gospel message. Preaching the truth, focusing our work to what brings God glory and not men glory is the basis for growing a church biblically. This is the thrust of every good preachers ministry.

    Do we throw pearls to swine? No, but that’s not what this article is about is it? We are not a respecter of men. We are not to analyze who we think might repent. We call all men to repent and believe. The rest is up to Him. To Him be the glory!

  6. Terry Sue Reynolds October 9, 2013 at 9:01 am

    This is a wonderful article and so very true. I love reading Rick’s articles. I have found that utilizing Rick’s ideas and focusing on what he teaches helps me to put what God has given me to use with abundant blessings. Thank you Pastor Rick and God bless you and yours. Rev. Terry Sue

  7. Re: “those who have left have often decided to be unreceptive to the church’s mission and message”
    I encourage that we not lump all who have left in one unreceptive category. People leave churches for many reasons, and until you talk with them, you do not know the reason. Some indeed will be unreceptive. Others have been wrongly, sinfully hurt by the church or by Christians, and these need care; also the church or a leader may need to repent for having sinned against the person.
    I suggest that initial seed-sowing is needed among those who have left the churches before writing them off.

    • All too often, people leave the church telling the Pastor one reason while telling their friends another. False accusations are often made about the staff and church. I hear Rick’s statement as not a lumping together of everyone rather a clear statement concerning those who have left over differences. I’ve seen far too many churches and church leaders spend lots of energy trying to win back those who left in disagreement as if we could “compromise” our mission or message or change our God-given direction just because a former member/leader/giver disagreed.
      As a person who loves to fish, I have had times when I’ve been stuck on a bank in one small area with little mobility. It would have been so much more productive if I could have moved around to where the fish were active. I believe Pastor Rick is simply talking about our return on investment.
      Church B or Pastor B may find the person who left Church A more receptive than they would be of pursued by Church A and Pastor A. Let’s remember there has already been seeds sowed into the person who left! It may be that someone else is to harvest! Isn’t that also biblical?

  8. How would one know if the person is receptive or not without sharing the gospel first? As christians, we are to take the gospel to the world.

  9. Josefina Santos Dela Pena October 3, 2013 at 5:45 am

    Thanks, Ptr. Rick. Your message would help our team a lot in planning for our evangelizing ministry in our town. God bless you and your family.

  10. Charles Arn

    Here’s another (supportive) article on identifying and focusing on people whom the Holy Spirit has prepared: http://wesleyconnectonline.com/selective-evangelism-charles-arn/

  11. I’ve been in a situation which a group of people keep dragging me to stick with them to take care of them, to counsel them and to love them. Unfortunately they never want to listen to you or never trying to change seriously. They just wanted me to be there and spending time with them. I finally left the group with a reason that there are many people really deserve and need my attention and time.

  12. justanothersower October 2, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    Mark Driscoll recently stated, “The church is dying and no one is noticing because we are wasting our time criticizing rather than evangelizing.” I confess my guilt and these comments also illustrate that truth. Ray I did read the entire article, in fact I read it twice because I was shocked that Pastor Rick Warren would write this. Maybe he didn’t write this but nonetheless I read it. I did not say the principle was unbiblical, I simply stated what he wrote about the parable of the sower is not what the Bible says. I don’t know of any translation that speaks of rocky, stony, and hard soil. Seems kind of redundant right? I do not believe the parable of the sower supports the idea that we should focus our evangelistic efforts on those we think are receptive. And as I’m sure you know just because you use the Bible to make a point does not make it biblical. Anyway, that’s enough time wasted criticizing, let’s go spend some time evangelizing. Blessings on your ministry brothers, Preach the Word, sow the seed, we are in this together, to God be the glory, Amen!

    • Have you been hurt or left behind remember that when you look at things it need to be in the lens of the Holy Spirit and not through the lens of your own hurt. You have to know the heart of a Pastor before you comment so as not to seem judgmental and the reason the Church could be dying is because we as disciples fail to get past our own issues and we let little things offend us and leave we never teach people how to deal and if we do people don’t listen. Pastors included. We must continually ask God to reveal what the heck is going on in us so He can give us the answer, the answer we need to give or the one we need to hear. Love you man I just read this stuff a little differently than you guys. But I Rick obviously loves people if he didn’t then God wouldn’t not bless him.

  13. justanothersower October 2, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Pastor Rick, with all due respect that is not what the Bible says. The man was scattering the seed and some fell along the path, some fell on the rocky places, some fell among the thorns and some fell on good soil. Jesus explains that the seed is the Word and the different soils reflect ones receptivity to the Word. But he doesn’t tell us to only plant the seed on good soil, that’s why it’s a scattering, not a strategic planting. Nor does he tell us to try and discern what soil is good and what soil is not. I do not think it is a waste to share the Word with people who may seem unreceptive. The truth is we won’t know how receptive or unreceptive people are to the Word unless we share it with them. You have scattered more seed than any of us. I am a little surprised that you would post this.

    • Dear justanothersower, we totally agree that the Word is never wasted on anyone and that we must try to share the gospel with everyone. This principle is a little different. Rather than being about the effect of the Word, it’s more about following the course of the disciples when Jesus sent them out and Paul as he traveled from city to city. After we have sown, THEN we respond to what God is doing and telling us to do by moving on to a more receptive audience.

      So yes, we agree, scatter the seed everywhere. But as you see which soil is most fruitful, concentrate your resources there.

    • justanothersower, the parable of the sower focuses on those that hear. When I preach to a gathering, like sowing the seed, I preach to all kinds of hearts. However, when I strategically and intentionally go after someone to share the Gospel with them, I am wise to share with those who will receive. You are correct in saying that sometimes we don’t know if someone is receptive until we share, but at that point we must obey Jesus words and move on. Preaching to a group = sowing, scattering. Reaching out intentionally to individuals = planting.

      It’s funny that you can say this is unbiblical when Pastor Rick used the Bible to make his point, or did you miss “If a home or town refuses to welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet.” – Matthew 10:14 (NCV)?

      Another big emphasis on the article was not to go after lapsed church members who have heard it and cast it aside. They have demonstrated their indifference. You should read the whole article rather than skim a few lines before you criticize.

      Oh yeah, the whole pigs and pearls thing in Matthew 7:6? It’s still in the Bible.

      • Ray – sorry sir – you are incorrect. Justanothersower was correct in his reading of the scriptures – we are not to differentiate between individuals – we are to give them the truth (the gospel) and let the Lord do the rest. Also – Matthew 10:14 was specifically to the those He was talking to, was not directed to the church. Going by your logic – we should probably write off most of the U.S> and go to Africa or someplace more receptive to the truth.

      • Vic Christian, Paul was selective in his evangelism. “And so I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation” Romans 15:20 (NKJV). There is no indication that Jesus limited Matthew 10:14, as a matter of fact, Paul utilized this in Acts 13:46 (NKJV) “Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.”

        It would be nice if you would use scripture like I do, instead of just saying I’m wrong.

    • He is not telling people not to share it he is saying that when you share don’t waste time on people who don’t care. When we share the Gospel with people and they don’t receive it just move on that is the hard, thorny, or sun scorched soil. We waste time on trying to convince people when we know as believer that Jesus draws all men and women unto HImself. But when we see fruit after we have sown then we know that we can help water and take care of the that person. The beautiful thing is when you plant and fruit comes out of that soil all the other plots want to make themselves ready to receive because they want what the other has. It is just being wise with time and resources. If people don’t want the Gospel then we can’t force it on them. It would be like trying to plant in the wrong season. If we do that then we endanger the soil quality making it less likely to have the nutrients to grow anything at all.

  14. Love this, Pastor Rick! As a gardening hobbyist and Pastor, I also like to think about the seed that even lands in the rocks. Some seed will not grow at all, but will decompose, turning into a teeny bit of… soil! Some will try and grow a bit before dying out, but their roots might break the rock a little, allowing future soil to fill in. Some will grow and die, but in that process will become a composting element, enriching the area as it returns to dust. It reminds me of God’s word never returning void, regardless of the frustrations of us pastors; us people. There’s always, always, change towards some form of growth potential!