Below are a couple of testimonies from First Baptist Church of Naples, Florida. The first shows that if your church is a soul-winning church, it can be the catalyst in your community to win your world to Christ. We must become intentional in these days. The second will hopefully encourage you to "keep on keeping on."
Partnering for the Sake of the Gospel
Our desire in our evangelistic strategy is to train sister churches in our community, equipping them to also have a community-wide outreach out of their place of worship. We are truly committed to being evangelism multipliers. Evangelism is all about multiplying — sharing Christ with another and that person sharing Christ with another and so on.
We are now training two churches in evangelism. To do this, we host one or two of their key leaders and have them participate in our evangelism outreach every Sunday night. The goal is for them to complete training and then to recruit a team from their church that they will lead. Then the team goes through training at our church each week, but when they visit, they will visit their church prospects. We will continue to train their teams until they have enough teams to break away and begin their own evangelism on their church campus. We are excited about building the Kingdom work, and what greater way to accomplish this than by helping other churches capture the vision.
This also works overseas on mission trips. You can have a team building a church or doing medical work while at the same time another team can train the pastor and some leaders to do evangelism. You give them the basics, leave them some materials, and take them out to see how it works. In English-speaking countries, they love using their hand for the acrostic FAITH to share the Gospel.
Now is the time to be aggressive in reaching people ... here and beyond.
Creating a Culture of Evangelism
You never know what the long-term results of an evangelism visit might be. Several months ago, one of our team leaders, Lou, met a man named Mike on a visit. When he asked him if he knew what it takes to go to heaven, he gave him a clear answer. He invited Mike to Sunday School and to sit at his table in Men's Ministry. Mike began to attend regularly and brought his family with him. One night, Mike came forward with his family to join the church, and I hooked him up with another evangelism leader, Tim, for decision counseling.
The next Monday, our pastor, Dr. Hayes Wicker, and I were on our way to camp with our minister of education, Lewis Howard. Providentially, Hayes asked me to buy some snacks for the trip at the 7-11. When I went inside, there were two deputies taking a report on a shoplifting incident. I decided to check out the drinks, and although I was innocent of any wrong doing, I felt that I shouldn't be hanging too close to such an intense situation. So you can imagine my surprise when I pulled out a drink, turned to the left, and there stood one of the deputies who proceeded to tell me that he needed to talk to me. I have to admit that I was a little concerned until I realized it was Mike from church.
Later, Mike began to tell me how he had been living a lie and that earlier when I asked him the question he just told me what he knew to be the answer. But after counseling with another trained leader during an invitation at church, he realized he was lost, but again did not say anything. Now he wanted to know if I would pray with him to receive Christ. Long story short, Mike prayed to receive Jesus, and knows he's going to heaven now.
Isn't it wonderful when a church is filled with trained evangelism leaders who go out, bring them in, disciple them, and all along the way create a culture of real evangelism, follow up, and discipleship in a church. If we had not followed up and discipled Mike into the church, but had just left him after the visit, he would have remained lost. All that to say, keep after the ones you visit. Don't give up so easily. If they are a Christian, as Mike said he was, get him in the church where he belongs. If they are lost, go back and visit again or invite them to a Sunday School outing — stay in touch.
Now is the time to take steps. Let's all recommit to taking the Gospel out into the world and encouraging other Christians to do the same!
Bobby H. Welch is pastor emeritus of First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, Florida, Strategist for Global Evangelical Relations with the SBC Executive Committee, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and originator of the FAITH evangelism strategy.