Read John 1:35-46
The gospel of Jesus Christ is a “Come and See” gospel. When Jesus began the process of assembling His closest followers, He invited a man named Philip from the town of Bethsaida. Philip then went to his friend Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Torah! The one the prophets spoke of—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael’s forehead must have wrinkled as he wondered out loud if anything good could come from a place like Nazareth.
“Come and see for yourself,” said Philip. (See John 1:45–46.) The Christian faith is an invitational faith. Andrew—one of John’s disciples—followed Jesus. And then Andrew invited his brother, Simon Peter.
Jesus invited Philip to follow Him. And Philip, in turn, invited Nathanael with the words, “Come and see.” These invitations point to some effective keys to personal outreach:
- Earn the right to share. Jesus could have brought forth water from a rock, but instead He opened a conversation with the Samaritan woman by asking for a drink. He had people swarming Him for healing, but He took the initiative with the man at the Pool of Bethesda. Many people see “church folk” as people who think they have all the answers. But Jesus met people where they were and started a conversation with them. We don’t do that often enough. Real give-and-take relationships with the people around us will open many doors.
- Never say no for anyone. This principle is fundamental to the spread of the gospel in the New Testament. Jesus did not give up on the people everyone else gave up on, causing the gospel to spread rapidly because the seed was scattered everywhere. Tax collectors, Samaritans, lepers, Gentiles, and people everyone else assumed would say no to God, said yes to Jesus. So, don’t underestimate the Holy Spirit’s power to influence needy hearts. You never know when a crisis will hit or a personal hurt will open a door. You never know when a heart is going to soften. So don’t ever say no for anyone.
- Extend an invitation. Jesus said to Andrew, “Come and see.” Philip said to Nathanael, “Come and see.” Invite a neighbor to a special event at church. Invite a co-worker to join your Sunday School class. Invite a friend or family member to church and then to lunch afterward. Buy an extra ticket for a concert. Offer to take someone to a special event. Invite someone to “come and see.”
- Commit to a process, not a one-time event. Through John the Baptist, Jesus had a history with Andrew before He invited him to “come and see.” Philip had probably known Nathanael for years before he said, “Come and see.” If the person you invite says no, don’t say, “Well, I can check that person off my list.” Keep asking. It is a process. One month, you might say, “Hey, wanna go to a cookout?” The next month, “If you’re free Saturday, I’ve got an extra ticket to a concert I think you’ll enjoy. Wanna come?” A few months later, “Hey, remember my friend you met at that concert? How about going to his house with me for a pool party?” And another time, “Remember when we talked about you feeling burned out in your job? My pastor’s preaching on that Sunday. Why don’t you come to church with me? I’ll pick you up and we can go for coffee afterward.” It’s a process.
- Keep your heart right. Make sure your heart is right towards people who seem far from God. Pray for them. Be kind and thoughtful toward them. Develop long-term relationships with them. Do everything you can to prepare for the moment when a door opens, a crack of light appears, and you have an opportunity to share the gospel in a clear and compelling way.