“I am trying to reach out to a guy in my neighborhood, but I don’t have much in common with him. The truth is, I don’t really get along with him all that well.”I received this question during a session at an evangelism conference. As I listened to the man describe his tenuous relationship with his neighbor, I began to feel uncomfortable. This man seemed to see his neighbor as a project, a duty, another item on a spiritual to-do list. But the man was sincere, and I could sense that he really did want to make an impact on his neighbor, so I asked this question:

“Do you love him? Do you really love your neighbor? Is that what motivates you to reach out to him?”

After a few moments, he answered with humble honesty. “I’m not sure.”

My answer did not sound very sensitive, but I meant it with heartfelt sincerity: “I suggest you stay away from him and let someone else reach out to him.” I explained that if reaching out was nothing more than a religious homework assignment to him, his neighbor would soon sense his lack of sincerity. His efforts could become counterproductive if they weren’t motivated by love.

This is organic outreach: evangelism that flows from the love of God.

PRACTICAL STEPS FOR GROWING IN LOVE

Organic Activity: I Can Do That!

  • Five Days of Prayer. Identify one person you know who is far from God. Commit to pray for this person for the next five days. Lift up these two simple prayers:
    1. “God, help me love this person the way you do. Give me your heart for them.”
    2. “Holy Spirit, please draw this person to yourself. Soften their heart and reveal yourself to them.”
  • Jesus Study. Pick one of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) and read a chapter each day, looking for one recurring theme: How did Jesus love people? Seek to learn from the example and teaching of the Savior.
  • Connection Time. Look at your schedule for the next week and make sure you have some time blocked out for connecting with people who are not believers. If you don’t have any time scheduled to be with non-Christians, adjust your schedule.

Personal Reflection

  • As I think about the life and example of Jesus, what do I learn about how he loved and cared for those who were lost in sin and far from God?
  • Who is one unbelieving person God has placed in my life, and what step can I take to connect more closely with them and allow God to increase my love for them?

Group Reflection

  • Describe a time when you felt the love of God capture your heart and you began caring about a lost person because the heart of Jesus was beating in yours.
  • Who is one spiritually disconnected person you hope to share the gospel with? Talk about what is motivating you to reach out to this person. How can you grow a deeper love for them?

Prayer Direction

God of heaven, overwhelm me with reminders of your love for me. As I revel in your love, let it overflow to others. If my heart is calloused and insensitive, bring it to life again. Help me love people so much that it involves risk, that my heart breaks, and that I follow you in your mission of reaching the lost. Here I am, ready to crawl through the muck and mire of this world, side by side with you. When it is dark and dirty and I feel ready to give up, let your love compel me to press on. Amen.

—By Kevin G. Harney, adapted from his book Organic Outreach for Ordinary People. Now available: Organic Outreach Video Study.

How to Use This Book

Your evangelism doesn’t have to be awkward! You can share the love and message of Jesus in a way that fits exactly how God has wired you. Organic Outreach for Ordinary People will help you unlock your gifts and personality for effective outreach right where you are, in a natural way.

This isn’t a system or program; it’s a collection of biblical practices that you can start using today, no matter your circumstances.

Dig deeper and discover more practical evangelism tools in the new, 13-session Organic Outreach Video Study taught by author Kevin G. Harney.

Buy the Book and Video Study to Learn More

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Organic Outreach

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