I’m at the Baptist Convention of New Mexico’s “Evangelism Conference” in Albuquerque. I’m thinking through evangelism and what it means to “equip” people to do evangelism. One question I have is “has the Church in America and the West sacrificed personal evangelism equipping and expectations on the altar of church growth?” Let me say from the start that I studied with Dr. Roy Fish at Southwestern. Fish was the premiere evangelism professor in all of church history as far as I am concerned. He taught Church Growth Evangelism, but also taught a separate course titled Personal Evangelism. The course has now been combined and requires a practicum. I’d like to take the course. But since I have graduated and cannot, I’ll stick with what I have. Fish.
First, church growth is what we all want. Church growth is biblical. Yet there is a danger in the pew. People expect the church to just growth. Yet few people are doing much to grow the church. Yes people attend. Give. I would say most have a desire for the church to grow. The problem is in the area of personal evangelism. It is a dying subject. I recently taught an evangelism course at our church. The challenge was very few people turned out. I offered the same class twice, once in the day and once in the evening. I had 10 people. I’ll take 10. I teach with the same passion. Jesus only had 12 so all good. It is not just the number of people who are willing to be equipping, it is the lack of passion for the subject and task of evangelism.
So, how to we equip personal evangelism today?
- Get people to invite people to church services. This is not considered evangelism by the experts. Yet any equipping for personal evangelism needs to start with invitation. Most people will invite people to church. I’ve found if a person does invite to church, the person will in time be confident to ask a key question using a gospel focused presentation.
- Get people to see that personal evangelism is more conversation than presentation. Most people have the know how. What they do not have is the “how to.” Train people by getting them to have practice conversations in a class setting that is nonthreatening.
- Get people to do servant evangelism. I recommend using Ken Hemphill’s book SPLASH. It combines servant evangelism with traditional evangelism. Jesus of Nazareth rarely used the exact same way to share hope with people. Giving people options on how to do evangelism is good.
- Get people to learn how to use questions to begin and end gospel conversations. I use a Q – GOSPEL – Q approach.
- Q – Ask an inquiry question.
- In your personal opinion what do you understand it takes for a person to go to heaven?
- If you died tonight, would you go to heaven?
- Have you received Jesus Christ as your savior?
- Do you have a personal relationship with the Lord?
- There are many key questions, but there will be one. There is not way to tell what you will ask. I usually whisper a prayer to the Lord, “how to I ask Lord?” He will prompt the exact tone and answer you need.
- GOSPEL – Share the gospel.
- There are many ways to share the gospel. I recommend a person having a plan from equipping, but know the equipping and plan will not always go as planned.
- Keep the gospel presentation conversational even when using a presentation.
- Dr. Fish said, “If you don’t have a canned plan, you won’t have a plan.” What he means is know what you are doing gives confidence.
- When in doubt, use a track.
- Q – Ask the invitation question.
- Once you share the gospel, the big question must be asked: “Do you want to receive Jesus Christ?”
- Remember a prayer does not saved. The gospel saves. Repentance and faith are the two requisites for a person to be saved.
- Q – Ask an inquiry question.
What do you think?