I am an evangelist. Nothing gets me more stoked than sharing the good news of Jesus with someone for the first time. However the role of an evangelist was given to “equip the saints for the work of ministry.” (Ephesians 4:12) It is not enough for an evangelist to simply “do evangelism” he must equip others. This year our college ministry of 100 saw 130 students make decisions to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord! It has been thrilling to see several of those get plugged into our discipleship process. What gets me even more excited is that most of our 30 student leaders have personally led someone to pray to receive Christ! One new believer even led his girlfriend to pray to receive Christ in the hot tub. You don’t read about how to do that in the “how to” manuals! Here are 10 simple practices for unleashing everyday people to share Christ.
1. Model the urgency. This is the most important step. People usually will not do what you teach them to do but they will do what you do. The most effective type of training is what I call “monkey see monkey do” training. Take them with you, show them how and then debrief. You must be able to say “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 If you are not regularly sharing the gospel with non-believers then you will not be effective in equipping others. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Ask God to break your heart for those without Christ and make sure to get the best training available. Make it your top priority to start building relationships with lost people and sowing the gospel among them.
2. Celebrate the stories. If anyone that you are training takes the smallest step towards sharing the gospel do back flips out the window! You will get what you celebrate. If you create a culture where people have an opportunity to humbly tell their evangelistic stories you will be surprised by how the stories will keep rolling in week after week.
3. Give them simple tools. Sometimes evangelistic tools such as booklets or simple illustrations get a bad rap as “canned.” This may be true if your training never progresses beyond using just one tool but we have found that giving people something to start with helps tremendously. I agree with what Steve Sjogren who says “The best kind of evangelism is the kind that you do.” Once people get started then they can develop their own evangelistic style and learn to adapt tools to fit different situations. Our ministry has several tools we use such as “Three Habits For Everyday Evangelism” and “Gospel Appointments.” They may not be the greatest tools in the world but they work. If you keep your tools simple they will be more easily reproducible.
4. Sow broadly with them. Every movement in the history of Christianity has been marked by broad sowing of the gospel. Jesus took 12 “with him” (Mark 3:14) and the training he gave them was sowing broadly with the gospel in “every town and village.” This fall our ministry had the goal of getting 1,000 interested contacts using several different outreach methods. We fell short and got about 850 interested contacts! This gave our student leaders a number of people to personally follow up with and if possible set up a “gospel appointment.” Doing some planned outreaches generated “hot contacts” which helped us “put the cookies on the bottom shelf “ for our people.
5. Train them with relational AND intentional methods! You don’t have to choose between training people in “relational evangelism” or “intentional evangelism.” We use intentional methods such as surveys, information table and flyers to help students get over their fears and help “work out the bugs” in their sharing. The crazy part is that we have seen many people come to faith using the methods that “don’t work anymore.” Steve Shadrach in the excellent book “The Fuel and The Flame” says “I have never meet a student who was unwilling to share the gospel during the planned times and then took the initiative to share during the unplanned times.”
6. Start training new believers as soon as possible. We provide the opportunity for training in evangelism and disciple-making as soon as possible for everyone who accepts Christ. Sharing Jesus is one of the best ways for a new believer to grow in Christ. Philemon 1:6 says “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith so that you may have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” We have discovered that new believers are some of the best evangelists because they have the most non-Christian friends. Also new believers don’t know any better than to share about the one changing their life! Lord willing some new believers will be “persons of peace” for you that will open up whole networks of new people!
7. Move with the movers. Don’t bang your head against wall trying to motivate everyone in your ministry to be bold evangelists. Focus your training on those who actually want to do it. Spend the most time helping equip the people who are the most motivated. We have a couple of students in our ministry who have led 3 or 4 people to Christ in one semester! We spend the most personal time with these students training, encouraging and helping them follow up on those they lead to Christ.
8. Train people to train others. Start equipping your most motivated evangelists how to train others. Even if it would be easier or more effective for you to do all of the training yourself give people the opportunity to take over the training task. This will speed up the multiplication process. This training works best in one-on-one settings or small groups.
9. Repeat steps 1-8 as often as possible.
10. Make a plan for how to help all of the new believers! If you and your team are abiding in Christ and consistently doing the steps above you will likely see many people come to faith Christ. As my friend Brian Zunigha says “If you share the gospel you will lead people to Christ. If you don’t share the gospel you will not lead people to Christ.” Expect God to use you and make plans for following up with all the new believers!
Paul Worcester planted and leads a missional college ministry called Challenge at Chico State in California. Since planting in 2009 over 300 students have professed faith in Christ with many plugging into discipleship. Paul is the author of the free ebook “Tips For Starting A College Ministry.”