Each Monday, the pastors of First Baptist Church pray for three things. (1) Open a door. We ask God to open a door to share the Gospel with someone who is unchurched. We pray for God to bring someone across each of our paths in order to share the Gospel with them (cf. Col. 4:2-4). (2) Open their heart. We ask God to open the heart of those we encounter We pray their heart will be receptive to the Gospel of Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Thess. 3:1). (3) Open my mouth. We ask God to open our mouths with boldness as we share the Gospel with others (cf. Eph. 6:19-20). Would you begin to pray for these same things each Monday? Imagine what God would do in our church and community if we began to have Gospel conversations.
Let me introduce you to Janie Wise. She is no stranger to our FBC family. Janie is a student at the University of Kentucky and recently sensed God's call on her life to short-term missions through The World Race. She will be traveling to five different countries over nine (9) months! During her journey, she will be sharing the love of Christ through a wide variety of projects. The projects will range from construction, Bible camps, working with orphans, prayer walks, to hospital visits. While every day of the World Race may look different, Janie's goal is to share the love of Jesus every step of the way.
Janie will be living out of a backpack while traveling to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, Nepal, and the Philippines. She will be challenged to abandon the comforts of her daily living in exchange for a greater understanding of Kingdom focused living among the "least of these." It's more than a "mission trip." It is a journey to see the world as Jesus sees the world.
What can you do? You can begin by praying for her right now. Pray for Janie as she prepares for this unique opportunity. Pray that God will prepare her mentally, physically, socially, and spiritually. Pray for her as she participates in a ten (10) day training experience in mid-July. Pray that she receives all of the financial support that she needs ($5000 by July 7th and another $5000 by August). Pray about your own financial support of Janie. You can read her blog and donate here: http://janiewise.theworldrace.org/.
God is using the young adults of FBC in an amazing way. We will be hearing from Andrew Ledford on Sunday, July 17th during worship as he shares about his missionary work in Montenegro. Janie will be sharing with us on Sunday, July 31st during worship as well.
Praying for you Janie!
The SHARE Challenge is a five-step evangelism strategy that I developed as the result of years of studying the many approaches to sharing our faith. There are numerous books on the subject of evangelism and each provides insight into a particular strategy or aspect of sharing our faith with others. What I have discovered is that a strategy that encompasses multiple types of approaches would be most effective. This five-step process serves as a tool to help you SHARE your faith with friends by utilizing multiple strategies. The challenge spells out the word SHARE.
Show others your faith in Christ through both words and actions. This approach to evangelism is often called “Lifestyle Evangelism.” This particular approach to evangelism has certainly received its share of criticism. Those who are opposed to the strategy suggest that Lifestyle Evangelism is nothing more than a cop-out from personal evangelism. Lifestyle Evangelism suggests that people should see your faith in action through the way you live life. The biblical support for this strategy of evangelism can be found in Matthew 5:16 where Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” However, the critics do have a valid concern. If a Christian never moves beyond this particular step, and never uses words in his evangelism, the “good” lifestyle may as well be attributed to simply being a “good” neighbor. In all of my years of ministry, I have never had anyone say to me, “You live such an amazing lifestyle; I gave my life to Christ.” If this is the only strategy that you are using, it is incredibly insufficient. It is a great step and it is essential for others to see your light shine before men; however it is but the first step in sharing our faith with others and cannot stand alone. In fact, while this particular strategy is insufficient to stand alone, the other strategies are dependent upon our lifestyle honoring Christ.
Help others through meeting their needs. This approach to evangelism is often referred to as “Servant Evangelism.” The idea behind this strategy is to put the needs of others ahead of our own. The goal is not to treat people as “projects,” but rather to treat people as Christ would treat them. There are two passages of Scripture that come to mind when I think of Servant Evangelism. The first is Philippians 2:2-4, “Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Putting the needs of others ahead of our own is more than a strategy, it is a mindset that believers are to embrace. Matthew 20:25-28 states, “But Jesus called them to Himself and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” So far, we have discovered that evangelism must be part of our lifestyle. It isn’t something we turn on and off. We are always witnessing through our lifestyle (Lifestyle Evangelism). Secondly, we have discovered that evangelism is a mindset of looking out for the needs of others (Servant Evangelism).
Ask others to attend a weekend worship service or an outreach event with you. This approach to evangelism is referred to as “Invitational Evangelism.” The weekend worship services at Christ Community Church (both for adults and youth) have been intentionally designed to be a place for believers to invite their unchurched friends. Research has provided some surprising responses in a recent survey.
Surprise #1: Most of the unchurched prefer to attend church on a Sunday morning if they attend.
This is one of the reasons that we offer DRIVEN Worship on Sunday mornings for teenagers. One of the benefits to having DRIVEN Worship on Sunday mornings is that teenagers can invite their friends to spend the night with them on a Saturday night and then attend worship together on Sunday morning.
Surprise #2: Most of the unchurched feel guilty about not attending church.
Although they feel guilty about not attending, they also feel nervous about fitting in. Therefore, we must make them feel welcome when they do attend.
Surprise #3: 96% of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend church if they are invited.
Perhaps it is worth restating it this way, “More than 9 out of 10 of the unchurched said they would come to church if they were invited.” What then do the unchurched consider to be an invitation? Here are some things to keep in mind when making an invitation…
The idea behind “Invitational Evangelism” is to actively invite your unchurched friends to attend worship with you. Don’t be afraid to make the invite; as we have discovered, 96% are just waiting for you to ask!
Reveal why and how you became a Christian. This is known as “Testimonial Evangelism.” As you SHARE your faith, it is important to reveal what God has done in your life. Your personal testimony is something that is not up for debate. In John 9 we read of a man who was born blind. The Pharisees were asking him questions about Jesus to which he didn’t know the answers. His response to them is applicable to our own testimony. “He answered and said, ‘Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see’” (John 9:25). A common concern that people have about sharing their faith is the fear that someone will ask them a question to which they don’t have an answer. However, it is perfectly fine not to have all of the answers. It is acceptable to say, “I don’t know.” You may want to defer the answer as you seek counsel and research the question more thoroughly, but you should always be ready to share your own personal testimony. The Bible says, “Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). Your response can be similar to the man born blind, “I don’t know the answer to that question right now, but what I can tell you is what God has done in my life.”
If you are interested in learning more about sharing your personal testimony, I have a tool called, “Everyone Has a Story.” The resource will help you write out your salvation testimony as well as your growth stories. As Christians we only have one salvation testimony, but we have numerous growth stories. This resource will assist you with both.
Extend an invitation for your friend to personally accept Christ. This is known as “Personal Evangelism.” At this point in sharing your faith, it is important to have your personal Bible marked with key passages of Scripture and walk your friend through each verse. Here are some verses to mark in your Bible and some things to remember when sharing your faith with your friends…
Assurance of your new faith! The Bible says… “For whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13.
Now it’s time to get started! Ask God to open your eyes to the opportunities around you to begin sharing your faith. You’ll be amazed at the number of opportunities you are given each day!
Dr. Chris Dortch has been in vocational ministry since 1993. His blog is aimed to "equip the saints for the work of ministry."