The key to successful evangelism is understanding the harvest cycle. Barns full of ripened wheat come from hard work in the field and a careful process of nurturing seeds to full growth. And the barns are not the end of the journey, for from that crop come new seeds ready to be replanted for the next harvest. Thus, the harvest is not simply an event, but part of a cycle.
When we compare evangelism with the harvest cycle, we see that the cycle of evangelism consists of several specific steps, each of which is important to an ongoing and successful harvest:
1. Preparing the Soil (spiritual revival and training
2. Planting Seeds (literature, Bible studies, small group)
3. Cultivating for Harvest (short bridge events, seminars)
4. Harvesting (evangelistic series)
5. Preserving the Harvest (nurturing and discipling)
6. REPEATING THE CYCLE! (Remember, the seed is IN the harvest.)
Understanding the cycle of evangelism “turns the light on” for many minds regarding why public evangelism has often fallen short of its goals:
A. Reason #1 We plant few or no seeds in preparation.
B. Reason #2 We forget to keep the cycle going.
Many people take time to warm up and “ripen” for harvest. Most of us can remember a time when someone had to patiently sow seeds and wait for us to “sprout” spiritually. This is part of why the cycle of evangelism must never cease—at the end of almost any evangelistic effort many promising prospects have not yet made their decisions. But many of these “disappointments” will yet ripen if they are not left to wither and die. Ecclesiastes 11:1-6 promises, “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days…. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether both shall be alike good.” We must keep inviting until the banquet hall is full (Matthew 22:1-14).
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