“We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you” 2 Corinthians 4:13-14

Do we believe? The overwhelming response would be YES! But do we really believe? Because if we do, then we need to speak; to speak of God’s ways to all we come into contact with.

Preaching is God’s method for saving men and women, and personal preaching is the most effective form. All who believe in the things concerning “the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” have an obligation to follow the command the Lord gave to “go… into all the world and preach the Gospel”.

At the conversion of Cornelius, Peter spoke the following words in Acts 10:42: “And he (Jesus) commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead”. These words apply as much to us today as they did to the Apostles.

In our everyday activities there are many opportunities to introduce the saving goodness of God to people with whom we come into contact. So many in fact, that if we all took a moment, we could think of five people to whom we could have spoken about the Truth, but didn’t. Most of us, for some reason, never take these opportunities. The few amongst us that do, have been blessed with many pleasing responses.

Before we set out to present God’s Word, we need to be conscious of the amazing gift of love we have received. God has provided us with a way of salvation. We are a privileged group of people. With gratefulness and thankfulness we need to speak for our God. The work of preaching can prosper, but we need to prepare ourselves and pray for the salvation of our friends, relatives, and neighbours, in fact, anyone we have regular contact with. We are God’s workmen and nothing in us must prevent us from this most important work of preaching.

The problem is getting over that initial reluctance to tell people what we are all about. God is not looking for a well run marketing campaign. In fact we are just the vessels God is using to spread His Word. He will bring the increase, but we face the important task of starting the process by speaking to others about Him.

The task which confronts us is not just a matter of getting our priorities right, it is also an indication of how fully we believe in God and His ways. If we really believe in Him and His ability to save, then the first impediment to us speaking to others is overcome. There are many examples of people who have never met their neighbours, and certainly never spoken to them about the Truth, and yet when an opportunity which is of a personal interest, need, or reward comes along, then they are very keen to speak with enthusiasm to these same neighbours. We can gain extraordinary results for the things we want to do, yet we lack the same enthusiasm and commitment to tell others of the great treasure we have.

Results speak for themselves. In a recent survey carried out in Australia, over 75% of those who came into the Truth from a non-Sunday School background, came along because of personal contact. Someone they knew invited them to a lecture or seminar, spoke a word at the right time, generated interest in the Truth, so that God’s word could work in the life of another person.

So how do we overcome this initial reluctance to involve ourselves more? The good thing is, it gets easier after the first, second, and third conversation. We suddenly find that whatever our expectations are, people will take the time to listen. The only answer to getting over the initial reluctance is just to start! Pick someone we know reasonably well, any age, and speak to them about the truth. Moses’ words may be similar to our feeling when he said in Exodus 4:10, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue”.

 But look at God’s response!

“And Yahweh said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I Yahweh? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say” (v11-12).

The opportunities are there for the taking. How many times do we get asked about our weekend, and how many times do we honestly tell people about the wonderful time we spent at the meetings?

The way of first century preaching should encourage us in regard to this personal endeavour. The work of Acts commenced at Jerusalem, so we should start at home. It was always Paul’s practice “… to the Jew first and then the Gentile”. Why? Well, one reason was that he had much in common with the Jews; he could easily talk with them. We need to use the opportunity to talk with those we know. At home, to our neighbours. They notice we go out in the car each Sunday, nicely dressed, but do they know why? Tell them! At work, at university or school, be open about our beliefs with our friends and colleagues.

Remember the need for salvation is just as great next door as it is in our own homes.

The barriers to personally involving ourselves in preaching are all of our own making. Some of these barriers are:

  • Shyness
  • Self concern
  • Pride in our status or position
  • Excuses for avoiding unpleasant tasks
  • Embarrassment
  • Anxiety about committing ourselves

Any of these can hinder our endeavour in interesting others in the grace of God. But to overcome them is to be so involved in God’s ways, to be so moved by His Word, that we take no concern for ourselves but totally focus our life on pleasing God. All of the issues listed above revolve around self. We need to forget about ourselves and let God work with us to allow His Word to prosper.

As people with a personal responsibility to show the Truth to all with whom we come in contact, we need to be on the lookout for any opportunity to raise the Truth. These opportunities are many and varied. The need to steer the conversation in the direction of the Truth is not really necessary, as any conversation, whatever the subject, provides us with an avenue. We don’t need to give a Town Hall lecture. Rather, we can look to sow the seed at any time. The little things quite often work better than a major detailed presentation of the Bible’s message.

Peter instructs us in 1 Peter 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear”.

 The Bible covers such a wide range of interests that there is something for everyone. We need to take the time to get to know people, to build a relationship with them, to know what is of interest. This all takes time, but what better way to occupy our time than converting people to the Truth. Having discovered people’s interests, allow them to gain excitement from the Bible. The Bible is able to make anyone with ears to hear “wise unto salvation”; it worked in our lives to bring us to a knowledge of the Truth, so it can do it with anyone who takes the time to look at it. We need therefore to go with confidence into our discussions knowing that we go about God’s business.

The personal benefit of talking to others about the Truth is that our own interest in studying the Bible will increase. Inevitably an occasion will arise when we do not know the answer to a question. This will cause us to look again at our Bibles to gain the answer. This is a great opportunity for a number of people to get together and come up with an answer. This enthusiasm is catching and our preaching can be another stimulus to increase Bible discussion between us.

In recent times the work of preaching has seen new levels of interest from those outside through Seminars. Seminars are an excellent addition to our personal preaching. They are an excellent starting point for bringing someone into formal contact with the Truth. Our activity levels just prior to a seminar should be at fever pitch. We should invite everyone we know to attend these excellent preaching opportunities. Attendance at a seminar is not so scary as a first contact with the truth. Many in recent years have taken this opportunity to invite work colleagues or neighbours.

In North America a complete seminar was run without any advertising. All those who attended came as a result of personal invitations. This is incredible! The possibilities are enormous. Today, with everything costing so much, we are not able to do as much leafleting and advertising as we did in the past. But we can get better results without advertising if only we all, everyone, invited people we already know to attend.

The work of preaching is not complete without our Ecclesial preaching work. Whether it be lectures or Seminars. There is a lot that can be done. Does your Ecclesia ever have leaflets left over from a distribution? What a waste! And why did we not step forward to take extra? Did we use the left-overs from our area to give to our neighbours or friends? Did we not have enough to complete our area? Why then did we not go back for more to fully cover our area?

The work of preaching seems to be diminishing through lack of support. All of us can make a difference. The obligation of preaching cannot be left to our Gospel committees. We all need to support their role in the Ecclesia in whatever way we can. It is a personal responsibility. Think of the excitement on Sunday nights and the increased efforts in preparation if there were always friends present. And there can always be friends if we invite them! A personal invitation to attend will often be taken up. So, who can we invite this Sunday?

Some practical steps to personal preaching

 First, we have to recognise our true position and our reliance on our God. We need to seek His assistance in prayer, and then we need to just start. Speak to someone tomorrow about the Truth. Tell them how wonderful it is and the abundant benefits we enjoy. Speak of it at any opportunity however small it may be. We don’t need to formally present the Truth or provide supporting quotes, a simple word will often gain interest and we can build on that interest later. Importantly, we need to take advantage of every opportunity