It has been said that if you scratch a Southern Baptist, he or she will bleed missions and evangelism. We love to study and apply sound doctrine. We love meaningful, biblical fellowship with other believers. We love meeting people at their greatest point of physical and spiritual needs. But, the foundational framework upon which we build these ministries of education, service, and compassion is the love of Christ that constrains us to usher people into the heavenly Kingdom through missions and evangelism.
Witness as Priority
When Paul gave his grand definition of the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15, he made it very clear that sharing the Gospel was his highest order of priority (15:3). His entire ministry was built on introducing men and women to the fact that Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). He fully believed that the Gospel alone is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). To that end, he pledged himself to “ambassadorize” for Christ (a verb in the original text), fully embracing the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:14–21). No matter where he went, telling the Good News was the overarching priority of his life.
Witness as Presence
People in the hospitality industry are trained to treat their clients (Southern Baptists, in this case) with dignity, courtesy, and respect. Though many of these workers do not know the Lord Jesus Christ and are not indwelt by the precious Holy Spirit, they have been instructed that nothing communicates like kindness. Their training has led them to mimic the very traits that are the natural expression of the Holy Spirit in us (see, for example, Galatians 5:22–23). When we leave town, what those who serve us will remember is whether we treated them with respect, addressed them as persons of dignity, engaged them in meaningful conversation at appropriate times, and tipped them as servers worthy of honor.
Our actions toward others become the platform upon which our verbal witness will have (or not!) credibility. When we let our light shine before others, we reflect glory on the Lord who dwells in us (Matthew 5:13).
Witness as Proclamation
As important as a positive ministry of presence is, every instance of Gospel proclamation recorded in Scripture is through the use of words.
Reading through Acts we find a host of verbs that describe witnessing encounters—addressing, answering, confounding, debating, declaring, explaining, expounding, giving testimony, persuading, preaching, proclaiming, proving, reasoning, refuting, replying, saying, speaking, teaching, telling, testifying, urging. The one thing each has in common is that words were used to share the Gospel with others.
Witness as Personal
Nothing is more fulfilling for a Christ-follower than to present a winsome witness and watch in awe as the Holy Spirit uses your words to persuade a new believer to enter the Kingdom. What a joy it would be if each messenger asked the Lord to provide such an opportunity. Would you begin praying even now for your opportunity to share the Gospel in Dallas?
Roger S. Oldham is vice president for Convention communications and relations of the SBC Executive Committee and is a member of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee.