Are You Making A Difference?


April, 2000

Dear Ministry Friend,

I did not lead a single person to salvation my first 23 years — even though my father was a pastor. I did not even witness to anyone! Why? Because I did not know how. I knew I was supposed to, and I heard frequent reminders from many ministry sources. But I did not know where to start, what to say, or how to end.

Then, in 1981, I went through a program called Evangelism Explosion. It taught me a simple, logical plan to get a conversation started, 2 key questions to ask, 5 main points of the Gospel with 2 scriptures to memorize on each point, 2 questions to end with, and an offer to lead the person in a salvation prayer. (An abbreviated form of this outline is enclosed for your study and use.)

Through this simple plan, I immediately began getting people saved. I have been able to strike up conversations with people in everyday life (waitresses, paper boys, co-workers, people in the hospital, college students, etc.) and lead them in a salvation prayer — by the dozens! I even was able to lead 2 Mormon missionaries to pray a salvation prayer one time (with tears in their eyes) in my apartment when they came to try to convert me!

The point of this? People need teaching! We don't know everything spiritual just by being saved for years. We don't get it by "osmosis." We have to be taught. That is the whole point of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 (NKJ), "Go therefore and make disciples... teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you." The word "disciple" means learner. We don't get saved to just go to church and feel good. We get saved to learn how to make a difference for Jesus on the earth!

Think about it — God could have designed our salvation to work in such a way that the moment you got saved, you were translated to Heaven! Poof — gone. After all, eventually we will all be with God in Heaven anyway, right? But He did not design salvation that way. He left us here on the earth — because other people need salvation, teaching, and various ministry.

But when it comes to witnessing, many people feel uncomfortable. Besides the previously mentioned reason that people feel mentally unprepared, they have often left off their spiritual preparation — prayer! When we pray for people that need salvation, we spiritually "plow up the ground of their heart" that makes it very easy to plant the "seed" of the Gospel when the timing is right. Of course, if you will never see a person again, it might be best to go ahead and witness. Perhaps someone else has been praying to get them ready to receive the Gospel. But if it is a neighbor or co-worker that will be around for some time, then start praying for them to be saved. God can help you pray creatively for them, and prayer makes a difference.

Then, start watching for opportunities to build relationship with the person you are praying for. God will open doors to communicate with them, do things for them, and in general to get to know them. This builds trust and opens the door to share about more and deeper topics than just the weather! Then, you might be able to offer to pray for needs in their lives, invite them to church, share your testimony, or even lead them in a salvation prayer.

There are some tremendous resources available to help you in this endeavor to reach others with the Gospel. It falls under a category of ministry called the Lighthouse Movement. This is a collection of many ministries (70 denominations and 350 ministries) that have all seen the need for every Christian to be a "Lighthouse" for God in his or her neighborhood, workplace, or school. One of the main sources for information, ideas, and references to other resources is Mission America (phone 612-912-0001, or on the Internet at Or you can go directly to to get more specific information.

The general idea in the words of Ed Silvosa is, "Talk to God about your neighbors before you talk to your neighbors about God." This takes the pressure off us — and puts it on God! It is His job to prepare their hearts and give us opportunities to build relationships that lead to spiritual issues.

And there is not just one right way to do it. You can be led by the Spirit. But the general idea is sometimes summarized as "Prayer, Care, and Share." You write down the names of five neighbors (or co-workers, fellow students, etc.) and then pray for them a total of just 5 minutes a day for 5 weeks. After prayer has been sown into the spiritual realm, start watching for opportunities to show you care. By demonstrating over a period of time that you care, they will be much more open to what you have to share. Too many times, our impression of witnessing has been more like trying to "bag game" rather than to show the love of God. Confrontational evangelism can be appropriate in some circumstances, but relationship evangelism should be the normal pattern and lifestyle for most Christians. (For a book that contains ideas to demonstrate your care for people, consider buying Conspiracy of Kindness by Steve Sjogren.)

Prayer-walking is another spiritual tool that can be an effective aid in the evangelism process. Moses told the Israelites that God would give them, "Every place on which the sole of your foot treads..." and "No man shall be able to stand against you." (Deuteronomy 11:24-25). I know that prayer can go places you and I can't go, but there is something beneficial and special about physically going someplace and praying over it. You can walk around your block and pray over your neighbors and the related spiritual atmosphere. You can walk around your workplace or school and pray for it. I have sometimes gone out at night, walked around the building I worked in, and discreetly anointed with oil the corners of the building and main doors — praying for God to work there. It sure doesn't cost you much, and you have a lot to gain!

Another great tool for reaching people is the classic JESUS video made in 1983 by Campus Crusade for Christ. (This video has been translated into more than 260 languages and seen by more than a billion people!) It is just over an hour long and Bill Bright leads the viewer in a salvation prayer at the end. The video can be loaned or given to a neighbor, co-worker, relative, etc., to show them an accurate "sight and sound" presentation of the Gospel. Charles Finney once said, "The theaters are full because the world lies well, but the church is empty because we tell the Truth poorly." These videos are available through our ministry.

Last, a printed Gospel tract can be a good conversation starter about spiritual issues. I have distributed literally tens of thousands of them over the last 20 years. American Tract Society is the best source I have found for inexpensive, high-quality, full-color tracts in a variety formats and topics by authors like Billy Graham and James Kennedy. Why not call them at 800-548-7228 and request their free full-color catalog?

America (and the world) desperately needs Christianity, and we must be more creative in reaching people. As George Barna said, "In spite of the intense interest of Americans in spirituality, the lack of numerical growth in congregations suggests the need for new and creative approaches to penetrating communities with practical Christianity. Changing times requires skillful adaptation by the church — not theologically, but in methods."

Working for Jesus,

Dale Leander


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