There are a lot of people, especially pastors and evangelists, who want to “take their city for Christ.” They long to build a city-wide ministry.
They attempt it by door-to-door visitation, prayer ministry, evangelistic crusades, healing services, food pantries, and the list goes go on and on.
I know. Been there, done that. I’ve even tried the “praying them in” while “calling to the north, south, east and west.” But you know what? I’ve seen very little church growth using those methods.
I am amazed at how Jesus can be both simple and supernatural at the same time. Natural and spiritual simultaneously. And for Someone Who’s not willing that anyone perish, at times He acted as though He wasn’t in any kind of hurry to get His message heard.
For instance: three and a half years of public ministry and He never once put together a mailing list. Yes, He had a forerunner, John the Baptist, but he wasn’t around for much of that time.
Jesus held some large meetings, but not because He had a huge following on social media. However, don’t let His simple actions fool you. As He said, “I have come to seek and save those who are lost.”
Am I saying that using a mailing list, or any other of the many tools available today is wrong? Not in the least. What I AM saying is Jesus did what He did without using those tools. And He was able to reach a city with the Good News of the Kingdom of God.
How did He do it?
Using John’s account of Jesus’ conversation with a Samaritan woman, we’ll see a Kingdom principle that will work in every community, every ethnic group, everywhere. And every person can, and should be, involved.
(I’ve included the passage from John at the end of this post…)
No one needs to be a bible scholar, teacher, or pastor. Not to follow Jesus’ simple and supernatural method of ministry.
Like I said, it is simple enough anyone can do it, yet supernatural enough to require our commitment to and faith in Jesus.
In order to get to the three things Jesus did, let’s first look at the six things He could have done, but didn’t.
1. He didn’t rely upon His “spiritual position” or “level of spiritual maturity.” He didn’t start out the conversation by listing all His credentials. No one really cares whether you are a pastor, deacon, or church custodian. People who need the Lord don’t give a rip whether you’ve been “saved” for 10 minutes or 10 years.
2. He didn’t declare a particular neighborhood, or a specific group of people, off limits. How did He accomplish that? He didn’t see Himself as a Jew. He saw Himself as the son of man, a human being.
3. He didn’t focus on the woman’s past, positioning Himself as the One with all the right answers in order to “fix” her. People who don’t know they’re broke aren’t the least bit interested in being fixed. To them, it’s just someone’s agenda or ruse in order to score a “convert”.
4. He didn’t speak of things foreign to the woman’s experience, and use words only another God follower would understand. He could have mesmerized her with tales of His pre-incarnation days on earth, or maybe even clue her in on who the Antichrist will be. But that wouldn’t mean a thing to her, or to most people today.
5. He didn’t use the gifts of the Spirit (word of knowledge, etc.) as a platform to demonstrate His greatness, or to belittle or condemn the woman. The Spirit of God will always be present to uplift Jesus AND connect the power of God with the person’s need. Ministry, whether to an individual or a large group, is never to be like a vaudeville act or circus show.
6. He didn’t argue, but stayed calm and on course. Even when the woman tried to debate the subject of worship, He stayed with what the Spirit of God was showing Him.
Maybe there are some other things He didn’t do, but let’s look now at the three things He DID DO.
1. He listened to the Holy Spirit. This is why He “needed” to go through Samaria. Geographically, He didn’t. Spiritually, He did. Jesus didn’t get up every day asking His Father to bless His plans. Rather, He said, “I only do what I see My Father do”; the first and most important step in winning anyone, let alone a city, to Jesus.
2. He identified with her humanity by expressing His need for water. In other words, He was real. She was there for water, so was He. I don’t believe we need to go through our laundry list of failures and flaws, but we aren’t perfect either (though Jesus was).
3. He established a friendly, non threatening relationship with her. Simple conversation, filled with God’s compassion. Mercy was evident in His words, as well as a sense of true conviction. God’s Spirit will use our words to minister to others, if we have allowed our heart to be filled with a genuine love for His people.
As Paul said, “For the love of Christ constrains us…” (2 Corinthians 5).
Take a look at what happened after Jesus did those three things.
1. The woman became convicted, then converted. Finally, she became a champion for the cause. She couldn’t keep quiet about her encounter with the Christ.
2. The grace of God which enabled her to believe also equipped her to express her compassion for those who were in similar situations, as well as those in her geographical area (her city).
3. The city was invaded with the love and presence of God because Jesus listened to the Spirit, expressed His humanity, and established a friendly relationship.
Imagine what could happen in your community if you’d follow Jesus’ example?
I imagine a powerful, God honoring, Spirit empowered ministry that would not require a church budget, coercing volunteers, or even a deacon to oversee the ministry.
It would happen because it’s simple AND supernatural.
John, chapter 4:
“Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
“A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
“Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
“Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to him.” (John 4:1-30 ESV)
Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did. ” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:39-42 ESV)