We've all been involved in witnessing - going witnessing, witnessing weekends, mall witnessing, door to door witnessing, putting a class together.  What a pain that was!  I'm glad we don't do that any more!  Yes, we got some results, but relatively few people actually stuck around.
Some think we can witness by example.  That's nuts!
The only way we can be an example is by our works, right?  But we're not saved by our works.  So how can looking at our works save anyone else?
There are several places in the Word that talk about being examples but none of them are talking about witnessing to unbelievers.
Let's look at one.
1 Peter 5:1-4:
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
Notice this is written to elders and that they are to take the oversight of the flock of God.  But notice it says, "Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock."
The elders (and any who would lead) are to lead by example.  Many people want to lead by words - commands, orders, instructions, even suggestions.  But God says to lead by example, not as lords.
What about witnessing?  How are we to do that?
Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation,
And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.
But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said,
Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.
Notice it says, "Go, stand and speak."  That's how we are to witness - by speaking, not by example.
So people want to lead with words and witness by example.  But God says to lead by example and witness with words.
That we are to witness is evident from Matthew.
Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
According to available evidence (See In Whose Name? for a detailed study of these verses.), it's probable that Jesus really said:
All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.  Go, therefore, disciple all the nations in my name, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you.  And lo, I am with you all the days until the completion of the age.
We are to disciple all nations in Jesus' name.  But how are we to do that?
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;
Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
These twelve Jesus sent forth ...
Notice it says he was moved with compassion on the multitudes.  Jesus did many things because he was moved with compassion.  Perhaps compassion should be what motivates us to witness, too.
Notice, also, that he said, "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest."
This is the first of a series of commands Jesus gave to the twelve when he sent them out to witness.  You can read the others in the rest of Matthew 10.
After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.
Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
Notice he said to the seventy, "The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest."
This is the first of a series of commands Jesus gave to the seventy when he sent them out to witness.  You can read the others in Luke 10:3-20.
These two groups are the only ones the Bible mentions Jesus sent out to witness.
So the first thing Jesus told both the twelve and the seventy when he sent them to witness, was to pray for laborers.  And look at the results he got.  Crowds of people followed him.
Ok.  If that was the key to effective witnessing then, perhaps it's the key to effective witnessing now.
Really, all of our going witnessing, witnessing weekends, door to door witnessing, putting a class together, trying to remember to speak the Word - is nothing but trying to witness in our own strength.  Since that doesn't work, most of us don't witness much.  I don't know about you, but it's all but impossible for me to convince someone to believe God's Word.  And even harder to find someone who already wants to believe.
But God never tells us in His Word to go find people to witness to.  He tells us to pray that He would send forth laborers into His harvest.
God is going to send forth the laborers into His harvest.  Remember, it's His harvest.  But we are to pray that He will send them forth.  So let's not try to do God's job (going to find people who want to believe God's Word); let's do our job (praying for God to send forth laborers into His harvest).
But the laborers will need to be born again, won't they?  There are about 6.5 billion people in the world.  Where's God going to get enough born-again laborers to reach them all?  They'll have to be people who are not yet born again, won't they?  So how will they get born again?  Someone will have to speak the Word to them, right?  Who's going to do that?
2 Corinthians 5:18-19:
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
Notice it says God has committed unto us "the word of reconciliation," not "the example of reconciliation."  To carry out the ministry of reconciliation, we have to speak the Word of reconciliation.
Ok.  Since we have the ministry of reconciliation and the word of reconciliation, we must be the ones to speak the Word to the new laborers we've been asking God to send.
But how can we find them?
Well, we prayed that God would send them forth, didn't we?  So He will send them to us.  Then we'll speak the Word to them.  Perhaps we should speak the Word to everyone God sends us.  Who knows who will be the next laborer?
So our job must be to pray that God would send forth laborers, and His job must be to send us the laborers.  Then our job must be to speak God's Word to those laborers, and God's job must be to save them and send them forth.  Then they also pray for laborers and God sends both them and us more laborers.
Now, notice we're not just to pray for someone to witness to.  Jesus said to pray for laborers.
The parable of the sower will shed some light on this.  It's in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8.  Let's read the one in Matthew.
And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.
When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.
But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
The point of sowing seed is to bring forth fruit.  Notice that only the way-side people reject the Word outright.  And only the good ground people bring forth fruit.  We need to pray for laborers, i.e., the good ground people.
2 Timothy 2:2:
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
Notice it says we are to commit those things to faithful men, not to everyone we meet.
But notice something else.  How many generations are in that verse?  There's the teacher (Paul), the hearer (Timothy), the faithful men to whom the hearer commits the Word, and the others that the faithful men teach.  See how it works?  Each, after he's heard the Word, becomes a faithful laborer who teaches others who then become faithful laborers who are able to teach others also.
If God sends each one of us one laborer, and when that laborer begins to pray for laborers, God sends us each another, how many laborers do you think God will have to send each of us in order to reach the about 6.5 billion people on the planet?  Less than 33.  233 = 8,589,934,592
So our job is to pray for laborers and God's job is to bring us the laborers.  Then we speak God's Word to those laborers and God saves them and sends them forth.
Do we need authorization from someone to do that?  Do we need someone to say, "Yes, you can go ahead and pray for laborers," or, "Yes, praying for laborers really is according to the Word of God," before we know that God wants us to pray for laborers?
2 Corinthians 2:17-3:6:
For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?
Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:
Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
We don't need letters of commendation to anyone or from anyone in order to pray for laborers.  We're born again of God's seed.  God already gave us the ministry of reconciliation.  And God already told us how Jesus instructed his disciples to witness starting by praying that God would send forth laborers into His harvest.
We already are able ministers.  How'd we get that way?  God made us that way.  He made us able ministers of the new testament.  And the people we work with, the people to whom we speak the Word, are our epistles.  They're the testimony that we are ministering Christ according to God's Will.
Ok.  So we have the ministry of reconciliation and we're able ministers.  And we already have all the authority we need.  But how can we carry it out?  How can we carry out our ministry of reconciliation?
2 Corinthians 3:17-4:2:
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;
But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
God is all about liberty.  When we look into the mirror of the Word, we behold the glory of the lord, and are changed into the same image.  That's how we can carry out our ministries - by seeing from the Word who we are in Christ and remembering who we are in Christ.  Then we faint not, but manifest the truth.
Don't look into the mirror of the world!  Look into the mirror of the Word!
So, we have compassion on people like Jesus did; we pray for laborers like Jesus told his disciples to do; we speak the Word to the laborers God sends us; we look into the mirror of the Word and behold the glory of the lord; we faint not; and we manifest the truth.  And in that whole process, we look only to God.  That's how we carry out our ministries of reconciliation.  That's how the Word will move over the world.
The fellowships that are praying for laborers - for "faithful men who will be able to teach others also" - are not only increasing dramatically, but seeing signs, miracles, and wonders - real deliverance in the lives of the believers.
By Jeffrey Moore, Southern California
Copyright © 1993 - 2012, Jeffrey Moore