God’s PR Strategy
. . . let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matt. 5:14-16)
The greatest communication success story in history is how the gospel spread across the Mediterranean world. Followers of Jesus grew from a few hundred on the day of Pentecost to more than six million people by the end of the second century. That's an amazing number, considering the only media were word-of-mouth encounters and handwritten letters. Their delivery schedule gave new meaning to the term snail mail.
It's tempting to assume that the growth of the church at this time was due to the effective preaching of Peter, Paul, and a few other gifted communicators. Certainly, their efforts in planting churches in key cultural centers were crucial. But more important were the ordinary Christians who recognized that sharing the message of Jesus was everyone's mission. The gospel spread like wildfire from house to house and business to business as men and women personally gossiped the gospel.
They let their light shine—to friends, relatives, acquaintances, colleagues, masters, slaves, students, teachers, customers, shop owners, and fellow soldiers in their everyday networks.
I had the privilege of watching this kind of evangelism at work when my friends Tom and Ann became followers of Christ in the early 1970s—a time when gospel crusades were filling stadiums in city after city. But no one told Tom and Ann that evangelism was for trained professionals. They simply began sharing Christ in the same natural way they had been introduced to him, living winsomely and building curiosity in the lives of their friends and coworkers by what they said and did. People saw how Tom and Ann's lives began to change, which provided natural opportunities for Tom and Ann to explain what Christ had done for them.
Tom casually talked about his faith with his colleagues at work, and when someone showed a little interest, he and Ann invited them into their world—to dinner, football games, and community events where they also introduced them to other Christian friends. Over time, these friends began to respond to Christ and joined Tom and Ann in sharing Jesus with other friends in their own network of relationships. So the gospel traveled from person to person, house to house, workplace to workplace, network to network, and throughout the city. Today, over thirty years later, many hundreds of men and women can trace their spiritual roots back to friends and work associates—and ultimately to Tom and Ann.
I think there are a number of reasons why God was able use Tom and Ann to further His kingdom in such a profound way, but one stands out in particular. They were intentional about sharing Christ. When this couple came to faith and began growing, they didn't pull away from their unbelieving colleagues and friends. Instead, they purposefully engaged them in a natural way, and as they did, their friends noticed changes about Tom and Ann—their openness, warmth, and contentment—that roused curiosity and opened doors for spiritual conversation.