You ought to see the pear tree at my house. It is loaded down and full of pears! Some of the branches are nearly touching the ground from the weight they are bearing, but there are pears all the way to top of tree, 12’ up in the air.
Which pears should I try to pick first? You may have a different strategy, but mine is to go after the low-hanging fruit. They are easy for the picking.
I’m convinced that we should use a similar strategy when it comes to evangelizing our friends and neighbors. We need to be looking for that “low-hanging fruit,” which are those who are most-receptive to the gospel. In evangelism theory, we often talk about the Receptivity-Resistance Axis. This axis is a continuum. At one end are those who are very receptive to the gospel. They are open to following Jesus and are “low-hanging fruit.” At the other end are those who are very resistant to the gospel. They are closed to the idea of following Jesus and are the hard to reach fruit way up the tree.
Every person is located somewhere on this continuum, and their location is subject to change, especially when they experience some sort of life transition. As a general rule, the more stressful the transition event is in a person’s life, the more receptive that person will become to the gospel. According to the Holmes-Rahe stress scale, the ten most stressful events that a person can experience are: death of a spouse, divorce, marital separation, death of a close family member, jail term, severe personal injury or illness, marriage, fired from work, marital reconciliation, and retirement.
When our friends and neighbors go through these events, they become much more receptive to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They become low-hanging fruit. At Eastwood, we are serious about reaching our community with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, I want to challenge you to open your eyes and ears to see those who are experiencing things in life that make them more receptive to the gospel, and then find a way to reach out to them with the love of Jesus.
I’m not saying we should ignore those who are more resistant, but we should certainly try to harvest those who are more receptive. May we be faithful to share Jesus with our neighbors, and may God give us a bountiful harvest!