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(notes from Good Word Online)

Imagine travelling to a distant land as a pioneer missionary. You arrive, unpack your luggage, and settle into your home. Then what? How should you begin your work?

How does the example of Jesus’ life help us to answer the question posed above? According to Luke 3:23, how old was Jesus when he began his public ministry? Why did he wait so long? Doesn’t it seem like a waste of time to have the Son of God living earth for 30 years, working in a carpenter shop without really doing anything overtly evangelistic? Did Jesus have a general pattern–a sort of evangelistic sequence–that he used as he tried to reach people?

Read John 16:12-13 and 1 Cor 3:2.

  • What is the point that both Jesus and Paul seem to be making here?
  • Just because something is true, does that mean we should share it with someone? Can truth, given at the wrong time and to the wrong person, actually harm someone?
  • Would it be fair to say (based on the passages above) that there is a time to withhold truth for the sake of our audience?
  • What are some concrete examples of Bible doctrines that are “milk” for beginners?
  • What are some concrete examples of Bible doctrines that are “solid food” for those who are more advanced in their spiritual development?

Read 1 Cor 9:19-23. How much should the needs of our audience affect the message we share? How much should the culture of our audience shape the message we give?

Which mistake is made most often in the evangelism programs you have experienced?

  • Evangelists are too timid and merely tell people what they want to hear.
  • Evangelists are too aggressive and share truths before people are ready to hear them.

If the sequence of our evangelism matters, doesn’t this place a lot of pressure on us? What if we “do it wrong” and people are driven away? What if we give solid food and choke the baby, to use a biblical metaphor? Are we responsible for this? Are souls lost because of poorly planned evangelistic endeavours?

In John 6:54-66, we find that Jesus taught something that was difficult for his followers to accept. Apparently, there is a time to share truth, even though it may not be well received. How can we know when to share truths that may offend?

If you had to design a series of Bible studies, what topics would you cover first? What doctrines would you save for last? Why?