I appreciate Jimmy Scroggins contributing this article for Lifeway Pastors. It connects with our conversation on Pastor Talk. Check out his related book Turning Everyday Conversations into Gospel Conversations.
There’s been a lot of conversation among our tribe (Southern Baptists) lately about the state of evangelism in our churches and church plants. I’ve seen some fairly alarming statistics on the number of people who regularly attend church and still feel unequipped to tell others the good news that Jesus died on the cross for their sins, was buried, and God raised Him from the dead. We have lots of evangelistic sermons telling people they should tell others. We run a food pantry so that people can see our light shining on the hill and glorify our Father in heaven. We pray for the lost. All of this is good. But I think the missing ingredient is actual training.
My dad is a football coach so I grew up with the importance of training ingrained in me. He was always training his players to play football on the field and training them to share the gospel off the field. I watched my dad lead many of his players to Christ, and disciple them to be soul-winners. I also grew up in evangelistic churches. I have been trained in Evangelism Explosion, F.A.I.T.H., the Four Spiritual Laws, and many other gospeling methods. To me, sharing our faith and training go hand in hand. My recommendations to any pastor or ministry leader who wants to equip people to confidently share their faith are:
Choose a tool.
I just mentioned some of the tools that have proven track records of effectiveness. At Family Church, we’ve also developed a tool called the 3 Circles, which gives people a way to turn everyday conversations into gospel conversations. It’s proven effective in South Florida where the vast majority of people are irreligious and unchurched. It begins with a recognition of brokenness that opens people’s eyes to their need for a way back into God’s perfect design. The only way, as we know, is the gospel. I’m not saying that you have to choose the 3 Circles as your tool, but I am saying choose a tool and stick with it for at least ten years.
Once you have your tool, you have to train people to use the tool. Not only was I the son of a football coach, but I played football growing up and now I coach my sons. Every football player trains and knows the importance of training. We run the drills over and over again during practice, so we can execute them at game time. We get our reps (as in repetitions). We all know that reps are what makes people successful in almost every area of life. Why would we think that we don’t need gospel reps? We can’t just tell people to share the gospel. We can’t just show them how we do it. We have to train them to do it themselves. At my church, we practice turning everyday conversations into gospel conversations in church so we can do out in the real world and do it with people who don’t believe. We train from the pulpit, in small groups, in kids’ classes, in youth group, in staff meetings, and in one-on-one meetings.
Train people at kids and student camps.
I wish I could tell you that this was part of our master plan, but honestly, we just stumbled on it. We had been showing people the 3 Circles for several years when we decided to make them the focus at our summer camps. We take hundreds of kids and students to camp each summer and with them come hundreds of key leaders. When we trained our kids and our students that summer, we also trained those key leaders. They were inspired by the kids and students’ enthusiasm and motivated to go out and share their faith. Not only were they motivated, but they were trained because they had practiced for days with the kids and students they were leading. The 3 Circles caught traction that summer and we haven’t looked back since. We now hear daily stories of faithful church members turning everyday conversations into gospel conversations.
Again, you don’t have to use the 3 Circles, but I encourage every pastor and ministry leader to choose a tool, help people get their reps, and use kids and student camps to train every generation to help reach the next generation.