Dr. James Engel, for years a marketing professor at Ohio State, studied what motivates people to buy products. Later he and his colleagues at Wheaton College Graduate School took a similar long look at the process of evangelism.
Dr. Engel and his colleague H. Wilbert Norton suggest that the Great Commission’s command to make disciples contains three mandates that are related but distinct:
- To proclaim the message
- To persuade the unbeliever
- To cultivate the believer
They make no claim that this is a final and definitive statement. The Holy Spirit works as he will (John 3:8). But this is a helpful tool in describing how the good news travels from A to B.
If your own coming to Christ is recent enough that you can remember the stages clearly, this may be intuitive for you. If you are presently trying to share Christ with certain people think through where they are on that journey!
Adapted from Good News Is For Sharing by Leighton Ford, 2017 Revised edition.