Being a Winsome Witness

March 13, 2023 // 2022 // Issue 2+Convention Herald

Rick Jones

Weaving my way through five lanes of highway traffic around St Louis I wondered out loud, “Where are all of these people going?” Ahead of me a sea of red taillights, brake lights, and flashing turn signals are speeding down the interstate. On the other side of the median thousands of white headlights emerge over a rise in the road, and then disappear into the night. 

Some drivers were impatient. Others were relaxed. Some were paying attention. Others were distracted. Everyone was going somewhere.

And then the Lord whispered, “Son, they all are going to eternity. Some are headed for Heaven, most will be forever lost.” Indeed. Every person you see today is heading for eternity. And tragically most of them are not prepared to meet the Lord. 

Yet sharing the Gospel today in America is not as easy as it was forty years ago. I love door to door calling, but the receptiveness of people is not what it used to be.

Pollster George Barna wrote recently, “Sharing the Gospel today is made harder…by an overall cultural resistance to conversations that highlight people’s differences.” Add to that the dramatic decline in church attendance, a pronounced Biblical illiteracy, and the blatant antipathy to Christian virtue in our schools, our cultural institutions, and our media—mass and social, it is no wonder that so many in the church no longer witness in the public square.

While winning the lost may be more challenging, it is certainly no more challenging than it was on that day that our Risen Christ gathered His disciples together on the mount of Ascension and declared, “18 All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20) 

His disciples did as the Lord commanded and nearly every one of them died doing it!

It is urgent that we refine our vision of missions and evangelism. Our mission field is not only “foreign”—It is where God has placed us. Evangelism is not only a powerful, trained, paid evangelist proclaiming God’s Word from a platform after some well-rehearsed, paid singers set the atmospherics. 

Evangelism happens when we point the lost to the greatest news in all the world. Jesus saves. The Spirit sanctifies. And the love of God satisfies.

There is nothing more exciting than praying with a soul seeking salvation! Some weep. Some laugh. One we prayed with got up and started jumping around in front of the church shouting, “I did it!” “I did it!” “I did it!”

Jesus himself did not win every soul on the first encounter. He loved people. He cared for their needs. He taught them patiently. And He gave Himself for them. He’s the great example. 

In seeking to move the lost toward Christ here are some lessons we’ve learned, some by personal experience, some from the experiences of others.

“Have more conversations and fewer confrontations.” Jude urges, “some save with compassion…others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.” (Jude 22,23). There is no one approach for every person. But listening, leading people to see the principles of God’s Word, and loving them to Christ is winsome.

“Make ‘Inviting’ as important as ‘Convincing.’” When John described Jesus he said, He was “full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14). Both are essential. This does not mean that we must drink to reach drinkers. We have a church in St Louis that offers Bible Studies at a local tavern. To my great chagrin I learned that the leaders were drinking along with the others. It does mean that when we encounter the lost, they should see that we genuinely love and care for them. As we offer grace, truth will transform those whom God is drawing.

Don’t assume the worst of people. I have discovered that many of the people that I thought would never want to know about the Lord, were the most interested! I like the way Brother Rowan Fay puts it, “They are pre-Christians!” Every sinner is a potential saint.

We used to have a man who would begin his witnessing with this not-so-appealing question, “You wouldn’t want to come to our church would you?” I’m afraid we all are guilty of doing just that. We may not say it like he did, but our prejudices, our perceptions, and our presentations push needy souls away. God help us to realize and act as our Lord, “Red and yellow, black, brown and white, they are precious in His sight.”

Be a blessing. There are some professing Christians who seem to think Christianity is all about receiving, but we have found that when the world sees authentic Christians willing to give sacrificially, it opens their hearts to receive the love of Christ.

Model Integrity. Our example of honesty in our business dealings, truthfulness in our relationships, and consistent morality in public and private, are rare finds in our day. Just as Daniel’s “excellent spirit,” attracted the attention of Babylonian Kings, integrity is winsome. While a good example is a good witness, it is important to let people know why you are who you are, or better yet, “whose you are.” They may think you are “good” for nothing. Let them know you’re God’s!

Be Forgiving. Jesus taught us to pray, “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12). There’s nothing winsome about grudge holding, self-righteous, unforgiveness.

Be Hospitable. I’m not sure why this is, but it seems that today so many people are wrapped up in their own little worlds that they are not hospitable—enjoying meals together, spending time with one another, going places together. When we open our homes to those in need, or to those who need to feel needed, it is a powerful witness. Jesus invited Himself to the home of that wicked, rip-off artist Zacchaeus, “Let’s eat together!” (Luke 19:5) And Zacchaeus has been in heaven for 2000 years because of that day!

If intellectually you know you should be witnessing, but your heart is just in it, remember that the passion to twin the lost and the power to speak the truth in love is found in the place of prayer and in the mighty indwelling of the Holy Ghost. 

Luke tells us that in the First Church, “when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31) 

Winsome witnessing begins in the place of persistent, insistent, and consistent prayer. Without Him we can do nothing. 

When we have tarried in the upper room of prayer, Jesus promised, “ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth [think Gatlinburg, Beavertown, Galax, Harkers Island, Hobe Sound, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Chicago, Memphis, Atlanta, and your next-door neighbor!]. (Acts 1:8) Oh God, fill us with the Spirit of Pentecost and make us winsome witnesses!

Interchurch Holiness Convention

18931 Route 522

Beaver Springs, PA 17812

Phone: 570-658-1030