What is the Most Effective Way to Evangelize?

By Joel Comiskey, Groups that Thrive

Jesus cares. He cares for both body and soul.

We read, “That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many with various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was” (Mark 1:32-33). Jesus healed, cast our demons, and fed the people. He took care of their needs. 

I recently taught a course at Indiana Wesleyan University called The Missional Church. Our textbook was Timothy Keller’s Mercy Ministries. Keller, a conservative evangelical, clearly lays out the biblical mandate to minister to physical needs and preach the gospel. Both are important. The students identified the primary needs around their local church (physical, mental, and social) and then determined how to meet them. Cell churches can reach out through cells and not just through church-approved programs.  

When I first studied the Elim Church in 1996, the district pastor in charge of my visit told me that Elim emphasized two evangelistic principles: 1. Prayer 2. Find a Need and Meet it. When I later wrote the book about Elim,  Passion and Persistence, I highlighted numerous testimonies of how the Elim cell groups first focused on caring for physical needs. Elim followed David Cho’s advice: “I tell my cell leaders, Don’t tell people about Jesus Christ right away when you meet them. First, visit them and become their friend, supply their needs, and love them.”

We know that people will only be saved through hearing and believing the gospel of Jesus Christ. At the same time, we must follow Christ’s example of ministering to people’s physical needs.