If you have been reading my Bible study articles, you would have know that I like Apostle Paul a lot. In fact, my favourite books in the Bible are Paul’s Epistles because of his deep revelations and practical applications.
I strongly believe that any minister that wants to be used by God should study the strategies Brother Paul used especially during his missionary journeys. Reading through his letters will unlock them to you.
As a pioneer missionary to unreached people groups, Paul used strategies still used by effective mission agencies and churches today with great success.
Paul developed and used strategy in several ways to accomplish the various ministry goals that grew out of his vision.
(1). Ethnic Strategy
Paul developed an ethnic strategy to reach his fellow Jews. Paul expressed this strategy in two ways. First, he believed the gospel was “the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Romans 1:16.
Therefore, Paul usually began his ministry in a community preaching first to the Jewish population within that community.
Second, he developed his unique ministry to Gentiles. “For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them.” Romans 11:13-14.
Depending upon the particular audience he was addressing, Paul also developed a unique preaching strategy. In a predominantly Jewish context, this involved disputing the Scriptures with a view of demonstrating that Jesus was the Messiah. He used this strategy in Thessalonica. “Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” Acts 17:2-3.
This approach to ministry was effective among the Jews because Paul and his audience shared a common understanding of the Old Testament Scriptures.
When preaching to a predominantly pagan audience, Paul found common ground in creation. In Athens, he began his message with “God, who made the world and everything in it.” Acts 17:24.
In both cases, his preaching goal was to call people to personal faith in Christ, but the unique character of his audience dictated the way in which he chose to communicate that message.
(2). Preaching to Leaders
It was also part of the instructions Jesus gave to him when he enccountered Him on the way to Damascus: “But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.” Acts 9:15.
(3). Preaching to Influential People
His understanding of social networks led him also to develop a networking strategy. This involved reaching the heads of households who in turn reached others in their sphere of influence with the gospel.
When Paul and Silas went to Philippi, one of their first converts was Lydia: “Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us.” Acts 16:14-15.
Purple clothes in those days was meant for royalty. Lydia was not just wealthy, she was also influential. By converting Lydia, it was easy to convert many people in the city. In fact, the first fellowship was held in her house. The same thing happened when they led the Phillippian jailer to Christ:
“And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.” Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.” Acts 16:27-34.
If you lead a parent to Christ, that parent will lead his family to Christ. If you lead an influential person to Christ, the person will use his or her influence to lead the whole city to Christ. That was Paul’s strategy for soul winning.
(4). Geographic Strategy
One key to Paul’s ministry success was the geographic strategy he developed that involved reaching large centres as the base of a broader regional ministry.
The cities in which Paul established new churches were regional centres with an influence beyond their city boundaries. This was especially true of Ephesus, the city in which Paul ministered the longest.
“And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.” Acts 19:10.
(5). Bridge Building Strategy
Paul also had a bridge building strategy that involved identifying with those he tried to reach so he could reach them more effectively. He outlined this approach when he told the Corinthians:
“For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.” 1 Corinthians 9:19-22.
Paul is not saying that you should commit atrocities with others in order to win them, but that you should adapt to cultures and languages and other practices that will open door for you to reach people for Christ.
For example, if you want to win souls learn the language of the people. Even if you cannot speak it fluently, learn how to say some words in their language and they will accept you as one of them. These are evangelism and missionary strategies.
(6). Pastoral Strategy
Paul also developed a pastoral strategy to ensure that all who were under his spiritual watch were taught the Scriptures appropriately. He reminded the Ephesus elders of how he had implemented that strategy during his ministry in that city:
“I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there.” Acts 20:20-21.
Then he asked the eldest of the church to do the same: “Therefore, watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.” Acts 20:31.
But bear this in mind, despite his strategy for ministry, Paul never allowed his strategy to change or alter his message in any way. He said to the Corinthian brethren: “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-2.
I strongly believe that any minister of God that wants to become an instrument in the Kingdom of God should study Paul’s approach to soul winning. He had strategies for every occasion. He knew what to do when he faces an opposition. He knew what to do whenever he steps into a city. Above all, he was always led by the Holy Spirit!
If you are a young minister and you wish to be in my young ministers mentoring group, get ready, we will meet soon.
If you want to recieve Jesus into your heart, say this short prayer and believe it from your heart. Lord Jesus, I belive that you died to rescue me from damnation. Come into my heart and save me. I declare today that You are my Lord and personal Saviour. I am saved. I am born again. Thank you Jesus. Amen.
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