FENTON, MI – Spring Training has started for Major League Baseball players. The Detroit Tigers are gearing up for the 2018 season as they practice in Lakeland, Florida. They are running, catching, throwing, and batting. Even though these baseball players have reached the top in their profession, they train to keep their skills sharp. They know that training makes a difference!
In similar fashion, one of the characteristics of top baptizing churches is evangelism training. These pastors engage in personal evangelism and they train believers in the church to do the same. Sharing the Gospel is one of the marks of following Jesus. In Matthew 4:19 Jesus said, “Follow me... and I will make you fish for people” (CSB). Consider doing evangelism training using these three approaches;
Modeling: Jesus modeled evangelism for the disciples as they did life together. As they walked and talked, Jesus showed them what it looked like to help people encounter God in their daily lives. They watched as Jesus engaged people in whatever they were doing. To a woman in Samaria drawing water, Jesus talked about living water (John 4). When Mary and Martha were devastated by the loss of their brother Lazarus, Jesus declared: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live” John 11:25. Nicodemus came to Jesus at night seeking God. Jesus penetrated his heart with spiritual truth when He said: “You must be born again.” Throughout the Gospels, Jesus models how to bring God into the conversation. We can do the same by intentionally modeling to the people around us.
Sermons: My first attempts to share the Gospel took place when I talked to people about the sermon my pastor preached Sunday. I didn’t grow up in church. I didn’t know much about the Bible, but I knew the parts he preached Sunday. Those messages found their way into my conversations and I learned something powerful about sermons. If my memory serves me correctly, my pastor mentioned the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus in some way in every sermon. He taught the centrality of the Gospel.
Joel Southerland, Executive Director of Evangelism at NAMB, shares that he always ends his sermons with the ABC’s of salvation. - Admit, Believe, Confess. He got a phone call one day that he told his assistant that he would return later. The man called back three times insisting to talk to him. When he finally answered the call, Alan said: “Preacher, I have a guy here on the loading docks that I’m sharing the gospel with. I’ve given him A and B but for the life of me I can’t remember C. What is it?” As soon as he heard the word confess, Alan hung up and Joel realized that he was teaching people how to share the Gospel through his sermons.
Evangelism training resources: There are many resources available for evangelism training. In Michigan, we have developed, “Mi moment - The Moment that Changes Everything.” It uses our personal testimony and a unique illustration to share the Gospel. Two of the Great Lakes separate Michigan into the upper and lower peninsulas. It is impossible to get from one peninsula to the other on land from anywhere in the state. The Mackinac Bridge unites the divided state of Michigan. Here is an illustration of what sin does in our lives. It separates us from God. When Jesus died for our sins on the cross, was buried, and rose again, He became the bridge that unites us with God. You can find more about Mi moment and other evangelism resources at BSCM.org. It’s time for Spring Training!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Durbin is the State Evangelism Director for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before joining the state convention staff, Mike served as Church Planting Catalyst and Director of Missions in Metro Detroit since 2007. He also has served as a pastor and bi-vocational pastor in Michigan, as well as International Missionary to Brazil.