Have you ever noticed that in John 4 the apostles went into Sychar, came back out to Jesus, and not one single person started following Jesus. Yet, the Samaritan woman went into the exact same city and many of the Samaritans came out to see Jesus. Many of those came out began to believe in Jesus (John 4:39-42).
Why did this happen? I see two reasons. The first is a shortcoming on the part of the apostles and the second was an advantage on the part of the Samaritan woman.
First, the apostles’ shortcoming: The apostles were on a mission to get food for Jesus (John 4:8). Their minds were distracted from their real work by the every day issues of life. They had not yet grown to Jesus’ level whose food was to do the will of His Father (John 4:34). They let the need for food distract them from the need to tell people about Jesus.
Second, the Samaritan woman’s advantage: While the apostles certainly had a personal shortcoming, even if they had overcome that, they would not likely have had the same impact the woman did. Why? Because they would have been talking to people we might call “cold contacts.” They did not have any warm connections with the people of Sychar. However, the woman did. She had friends among them and connections. She already had a relationship with the people. Thus, when she spoke to them, they were much more likely to listen. And listen they did (John 4:39-42).
What do we learn from this? First, when it comes to evangelism, we need to start where we have the greatest advantage. We need to start with the people we know and have a relationship with. I know we are often scared those very people may reject us. However, these are the people most likely to have noticed the change in our lives. These are the people most likely to be intrigued by how we live. They are the people most likely to listen to anything we have to say. Obviously, not everyone is going to listen, but some of them will.
Second, this means you have an advantage over the preacher. In many cases, the local preacher is working to manufacture relationships in the community in order to have opportunities to teach. You already have them. You have contact and relationships with people the preacher will never meet. Take advantage of that contact, start inviting them.
Third, while we obviously want to rely on warm connections more than cold contacts, let’s not get so distracted by our daily life that we forget to tell people about Jesus. Maybe we don’t know the person. Maybe we don’t have much opportunity to build a relationship with them. However, for all we know our one little mention of Christ and His church is the only one they’ll get. Let’s make sure we tell them about Jesus and His church.
Last week, we started a push for evangelism and inviting. Let’s not stop because the special day has passed. Let’s keep building the momentum.