Throughout my ministry, I have observed how believers approach serving others in numerous settings. I have discovered that there are two approaches to this topic.
The first is what I call the “Conversion Approach.” This group says that the goal of ministry is to convert people. Preachers have explained to me, “If I do a wedding, I am going to preach the gospel and call for people to follow it.” They say, “If I perform a eulogy, speak at a civic group gathering, or have five minutes to talk to high school students, I am teaching the gospel for others to come to faith.”
There is nothing inherently wrong with this approach. It has been popular for years. People have stood on street corners or held special rallies to further this style of outreach. I am sure an untold number of people have come to Jesus through this method over the years. It gets the message of Jesus into the world and calls people to accept it or reject it.
I have developed a different philosophy of ministry. My process is to focus on what is called “Pre-evangelism.” This is the concept that people will not hear the message of Jesus until they are ready, and my job is to till and water the ground until the seed of the gospel can be planted.
My best example of this is my approach to weddings. When a man and a woman come to me to help them with a wedding, my goal is to make their experience the best encounter with a Christian ever. I serve the couple, ask for their opinions, smile a lot, compliment, try to be thankful, and I am easy to work with in every phase of the process. I want them to go away saying, “If that is what a Christian is like, I might be interested in hearing more.” I handle almost every event in the same way. When I am asked to help with a wedding, funeral, baccalaureate, youth group, civic activity, or anything where people might need help, my goal is to give people a positive experience with a Christian that might open the doors for the gospel.
Each form of ministry can be criticized by the other group. I find people in the first group to be a little rigid and overwhelming. I fear that in 2020 the message is being rejected far more than accepted. The people in that group find me soft and nondogmatic. They fear people will die without ever hearing the gospel. What is fascinating is that God uses both groups to touch the world. So I am not so much concerned about which one you choose, but pick one and try to make a difference in the world around you.