By: John Meador, Founder and President of One Conversation
Several years ago, our church began an evangelism equipping emphasis called, “Can We Talk?” As pastor there, I was discouraged by the limited number of Gospel conversations happening outside the walls of our church. I wanted our people to be equipped and encouraged to engage our increasingly diversified community with the Gospel, and I knew we weren’t doing it well.
Using a very simple outline and a doctrinally sound approach I’d developed over the years, we printed a Gospel conversation plan that trains a person to share the Gospel in 10 minutes or less. It’s brief, memorable and conversational. It’s also reproducible.
Our church began using this plan in a 6-week format, which combines teaching with actual mobilization to have Gospel-sharing experiences. In the first six-weeks we saw more than 20 people come to faith in Christ, and our trained teams were excited and ready to do it again. Within four six-week semesters spaced out over a calendar year, we’d trained more than 300 people – and to date our church has now taken more than 750 people through this training.
Here’s what has happened as a result:
As a pastor, I find myself constantly thinking of sharing Christ, and encouraging our people to do so because of “Can We Talk?” I began scheduling a few brief hours a week to be set aside for training people to share the Gospel, and sharing it myself. By brief, I mean no more than 2-3 hours per week.
I’m astounded at how that time investment impacts us as a congregation. I’m also a bit embarrassed that this was not a habit of mine before we began. How can we justify spending 40-50 (or more) hours a week in leading a church and not take at least 5% of that time in sharing the Gospel? This sets a priority in a vibrant way, and challenges the congregation with an example of someone who is literally leading. It’s become a passion.
Our staff members are challenged to lead well and they are involved. I am confident that they are ready and able to share Christ throughout the week, and I hear stories and as a result, see changed lives. Our staff also realizes they are to lead the way for our members, and they regularly step up to do this. I couldn’t honestly ask them to do this if I were not willing to lead the way. We’ve all come to realize that our primary calling is the Gospel within our local assignment. We can’t serve our assignment (local church) well if we’re not obedient to the primary calling (the Gospel).
Our congregation has seen the effectiveness of an equipping plan in their own lives. I constantly hear the stories they tell me of their conversations with neighbors, co-workers and friends. By their own testimony, our people tell me they’ve been liberated to share Christ more often and more frequently because of this training. It’s “broken the ice” for them and given them a way to help fulfill part of their divine assignment. It’s also been effective in helping our small groups, and our entire church has an appetite and willingness to reach those we’ve never reached before. The Gospel is the new wine in our old wineskins.
Our community is directly impacted. We’ve had more than 3,500 Gospel conversations at the front doors of our neighbors around our church, and seen hundreds come to Christ. We’ve seen individuals and families come to our church because we’ve led them to Christ, and we’ve even seen people who already profess Christ join our church because we’re “Gospel-centered” and they value that in a church. Many of them end up being trained, as well.
As a pastor, I’m shepherding my entire community in a way I never was before we began mobilizing our members. Our citizens know we care about their spiritual and physical lives – we’ve had conversations with many of them, whether they’ve attended our church or not.
In a Gospel-centric way, we’ve also supported the many compassion and outreach ministries we’re involved with. We now have an army of people who follow up with those who’ve received food, clothing or some benevolent help from our local efforts. We’re engaging people with the Gospel who’ve had their homes repaired, or whose kids have received backpacks, and we’ve visited families who are in after-school Bible clubs. I’ve learned that many acts of ministry stop short of a clear Gospel presentation, and we’ve changed the game for that in our community.
And, yes, we do see people we’ve led to Christ outside our walls being baptized and becoming members. This is always an important work of follow up. We are experiencing a different dimension of discipleship because we regularly see new people come to faith. Instead of the typical discipleship programs we’ve used, we’ve begun to emphasize a more Gospel-centric approach called “Can We Walk?” We call it “adopting.” We regularly see people experience a new birth and quickly realized we can’t provide discipleship classes and materials used for long-time believers who are already biblically literate. We are taking people who are truly new believers, and committing to adopt them to maturity. It’s what they need and we are helping them begin to walk with Christ.
After three years of seeing God move, I simply can never go back to being a pastor who neglects the “Gospel work” of evangelism. I’ve realized that in those seasons where I was not obedient to “equip the saints” and “do the work of the evangelist” I was short-changing the church, the Gospel and the Lord Himself.
After all, if we really believe the Gospel has enough power to change the world, wouldn’t we do everything in our power to spread it to everyone? We believe that so deeply that we formed a non-profit ministry that helps pastors be challenged and equipped to train their churches and people to share the Gospel in everyday life. One Conversation exists to help pastors and churches discover what we did years ago at First Baptist, Euless–the Gospel changes everything!
Texas Baptists have partnered with One Conversation to provide training for pastors. Learn more at www.oneconversation.org.