Jim Gassaway

At a recent men’s conference, veteran missionary Jim Peterson shared his perspective on God’s master plan. “What is God up to?” According to Jim, God is creating a people—a spiritual family—at the price of His Son.

Evangelism is a critical tool for building this family. What are some essential characteristics for effective evangelism? Jim mentioned four key ones:


  1. Humility. The future of the Gospel depends on humbling ourselves before God and man. “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility…” (Ephesians 4:1-2). Pride leads to spiritual deafness, but humility opens our ears to both God and people. We can’t reach lost people with closed hearts.
  2. Integrity. We need to operate in righteousness, act with excellence, and be people who are trustworthy and honest. “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:23-24). We can’t effectively lead others to the Truth of Jesus if we aren’t walking in truth.
  3. Forgiveness. As we reach out to the non-believing world around us, we need to offer more forgiveness than judgment. “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32). Whenever we cling to a judgmental attitude toward someone, it builds distance in the relationship. We are sinners as they are. By forgiving them, we can close that gap—just as Jesus reached out to us.
  4. Love. When we talk about evangelism, we need to focus more on becoming like Christ, instead of merely talking about methodology. “Be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us” (Ephesians 5:1-2). An encounter with Jesus is what produces spiritual fruitfulness. By growing in our imitation of Christ—in attitude, not just outward behavior—we will naturally provide these encounters for the lost around us.


During a question and answer session following Jim’s message, I asked him, “Are you saying that the passion to know, love, and become like Christ is the most important mark of a disciple?” Jim’s response was an enthusiastic YES!

So what is God up to? Through the loving sacrifice of his Son, and the living indwelling of his Son, God is creating people who become like his Son. May we remember this central truth as we live and disciple among the lost.