Pastor Greg Laurie delivered a special sermon at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, on Sunday, just days before Harvest America, and encouraged the congregation not to hesitate in sharing the Gospel with the people they meet.
"Christ has given us our marching orders," Laurie, the pastor of the Harvest Fellowship megachurch in Southern California, told the audience at Prestonwood. "Jesus didn't say the whole world should go to the Church, but He did say the Church should go to the whole world."
Talking about the big crusade, Harvest America 2016, which will be held at the AT&T Stadium where the Dallas Cowboys play on March 6, Laurie said about 4,000 host sites are participating in it, making the Gospel known to people not only in all the states in the U.S., but also 50 other countries.
It's important for Christians to know the who, the where, the when and the how of sharing the Gospel, he continued.
"Who is called to go into all the world and preach the Gospel?" he asked. "Answer, we are," he said, referring to Matthew 28:19-20. "Every Christian" is commissioned to do so, he said, adding that many, however, perceive the Great Commission as a "Great Suggestion" or even a "Great Omission."
Laurie said not preaching the Gospel "can actually be a sin" for a Christian, explaining that there are sins of commission and sins of omission.
Where should we preach the Gospel? "Answer, everywhere," he said. We cannot go everywhere literally, but we can go into our world, our family, our workplace, our neighborhood, our sphere of influence to preach the Gospel, he said.
"Why should we preach the Gospel?" he asked. "Because God's primary way of reaching people is through people," he answered, referring to Romans 10:14 and 1 Corinthians 1:21.
"When are we to share the Gospel?" the pastor continued. "Answer, all the time."
God can call on you in an unexpected time to preach the Gospel "in season and out of season," Laurie told the congregation.
"How are we to share the Gospel … the most difficult part?" he asked, and read John 4:3-10.
The passage reads: "So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 'Will you give me a drink?' (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, 'You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?' (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.'"
Our objective is to build a bridge, not burn one, Laurie said, explaining that Christ has not called us to isolate, but to permeate. Our objective is not to win the argument; it's to win the soul, he added.
Everyone's favorite subject is themselves, he said, adding that, to get people talking, we should ask them about themselves.
When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, He didn't begin by condemning her, Laurie pointed out.
"Sharing starts with caring," he stressed. "Evangelism, Jesus style, begins with a burden."
If you don't care for the lost people, nothing else can help, he said, adding that evangelism also involves going to people whom we may not like, just as Jonah, in the Old Testament, was asked to go to Nineveh.
If we want to evangelize, Jesus style, we need to use tact, Pastor Laurie continued, explaining that "tact" can be defined as the intuitive knowledge of saying the right thing at the right time.
Jesus spoke in the language that people understood, the pastor underlined. "Effective evangelism is a dialogue, not a monologue."
There's no one-size-fit-all method to evangelism, he added. Everyone's different, so we shouldn't be robotic when we share the Gospel; we need to adapt, he said.
The pastor told the worshippers that every Christian should be able to articulate the Gospel in three minutes or less.
The Gospel, in a nutshell, he said, is this: "We're all separated from God by our sin, and no matter what we do, we can never reach God. We can never satisfy His righteous demands. One sin is enough to keep us out of Heaven. But, 2,000 years ago, God loved us so much He sent His Son to this Earth on a rescue operation. Jesus walked on our shoes, and He breathed our air, and He lived our life, and then He died our death. And He rose again from the dead. If we turn from our sin and ask Christ to come into our life and to forgive us, we can know with certainty we'll go to Heaven when we die. And we can find the peace and hope and the purpose we've been searching for in life."
Pastor Laurie concluded: "If you have memorized John 3:16 … you know more than you think you know. … There are opportunities everywhere. … Sometimes we just need to sow the seed, and sometimes we need to close the deal."