Author Greg Koukl
Published on 01/07/2019
Tactics and Tools

Focus on Gardening

Part 1: Greg encourages Christians for whom evangelism seems overwhelming to focus on small opportunities of influence rather than “sealing the deal.”

Other videos in this series:
Want to Share the Gospel? Start with This Question
The Burden-Free Step in Discussing Christian Beliefs
The Unexpected Way to Effectively Make Your Point
Where Do Moral Laws Come From?
How to Get out of the Hot Seat While Remaining Engaged
How to Avoid the Professor’s Ploy
What We Can Learn from Mr. Rogers’ Understanding of Salvation


I had somewhat of an epiphany 10, 15 years ago. Something came together for me that has really profoundly influenced the way that I approach the whole task that we generally call evangelism: Before there can be a harvest, there has to be a season of gardening.

What this points out for evangelism is that before someone comes to Christ, there is a season of that person considering Christ. And nowadays, that season is a whole lot longer than it used to be. In other words, as Francis Schaeffer used to put it, we need more pre-evangelism than we ever needed.

So if we just go out into the field, and we are looking for a harvest, and our evangelism technique is focusing on getting people to sign on the dotted line—to close the deal, so to speak—we may be really frustrated because it’s like harvesting fruit that’s not ripe yet.

And I began to think of my own life, and I realized that I’m not really a harvester. I’m a gardener. Everything that I do, really—on the radio, and writing books, and talking to audiences—is mostly gardening, not harvesting.

Is there a harvest? Sure. I get people to come to me, and they tell me that they’ve listened to the show or read the books and, eventually, they became a Christian, right? In other words, somebody went into my garden where I had been gardening and harvested my fruit. Do you think that bothers me? No, it doesn’t bother me. I’m glad for that.

And Jesus said the same thing in John chapter 4 right after the woman at the well. The disciples came up to Him after she had gone off to Sychar, and He says to the disciples, “You are about to reap where you did not sow.” In other words, He’s identifying one field, two seasons—reaping and sowing—and two kinds of workers—reapers and sowers, harvesters and gardeners. And I think the gardening job is the one that’s the hardest to do because when the fruit is ripe, it falls into the basket. What Jesus is telling the disciples is they’re about to get the ripe low-hanging fruit though someone else did the heavy lifting. And then He says, “So that the one who reaps and the one who sows can rejoice together.”

That’s my approach. That’s what I mean when I say I just want to put a stone in someone’s shoe when I go to engage other people. I’m not looking to lead them to Christ. I’m not looking to close the deal. I’m not swinging for the fences. I’m just trying to make a small difference in their life, put a stone in their shoe, get them thinking about something important about Christ. Maybe create a doubt in their mind about their own view so that would move them a little bit closer.

And I think if more Christians thought of themselves as gardeners and not worried about the harvest, which I think is going to take care of itself by God’s sovereignty, we get out there and start gardening, doing a little here a little there, more Christians would get off the bench and get into play.

And this is part of the reason I have the tactical game plan because Tactics is a game plan that will allow you to do that effectively. Tactics helps you to garden, and gardening, I think, is the biggest thing that’s needed right now.