Evangelism with Johnny Hunt

#18 – Burdened for the Lost, Unequipped to Share


Some are equipped to share the gospel, but they lack a burden for the lost. Others have a burden for the lost, but they feel unequipped share the gospel. Do you fall into one of these categories? On this episode, Kevin Ezell interviews Johnny Hunt as they discuss what it looks like to equip your church in evangelism. They’ll dive into evangelism training tools Pastor Johnny uses, the necessity of repetition in learning to share the gospel, common fears and how to integrate gospel conversations where you live, work and play. 


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Speaker 1:  You’re listening to Evangelism with Johnny Hunt, a podcast from the North American Mission Board that equips you and your church to share the gospel. Now, here are your hosts.

Kevin Ezell:  Hey, thanks for joining us today. This is an episode of “Evangelism with Johnny Hunt,” and I’m Kevin Ezell and here with me is Brother Johnny Hunt. Brother Johnny, on a previous episode, we talked about the idea of being equipped to share the gospel, but not having a burden for the lost that leads people to actually doing so. This is a reality for many, but sometimes the opposite is true.

Kevin Ezell: Sometimes people find themselves in a situation where they have a burden for the lost, but feel they are not equipped to live on mission or to share the gospel. Where do pastors begin when it comes to practically equipping their members to live on mission?

Johnny Hunt: Well, thanks Kevin, that’s a great question. And the reason it’s such a great question … Let’s just say I’m preaching a message where I’m really challenging our people in personal evangelism. And basically, I could really just give a strong challenge and say, “Here’s what you ought to be doing. You ought to find yourself in the altar; you are to pray for a burden for the lost.”

Johnny Hunt: And let’s just say, there’s a great response and the people were really touched by the message. But they leave, and the problem is, they’ve still not been equipped. And so they really want to do something we’ve not taught them to do. Certainly, they can share a brief testimony on how God changed their life, but remember, the power is not just necessary in my story, the power’s in the gospel.

Johnny Hunt: So we want to share with them how they can share God’s promise. We call it at Woodstock, and then we wrap our story around the gospel. So literally, about every six weeks at Woodstock, we do a training. And then it’s … We’ve heard in a different episode with Jimmy Scroggins, they actually, in about every event at their church, make the gospel known to the people that are there.

Johnny Hunt: For instance, if someone’s going to go to a youth camp and be a youth leader, they’ve got to train in the ministry of the three circles. And we at Woodstock, no one can go on a mission trip, no one can be involved in the mission of Woodstock without being trained in our GCI.

Johnny Hunt: So we do the same thing, but then we do actually offer a training to anyone at our church, or neighboring churches, or even those that have flown across the country, that want to learn from Woodstock.

Kevin Ezell: You know, I haven’t pastored for many years, the best way to find a way … But the best way for them to really learn is just reps. They have got to have reps, and do whatever they do, they do it many, many times. And to be very intentional. So, would you mind just discussing how a pastor should train his people to leverage where they live, where they work and where they play to share the gospel?

Kevin Ezell: Because I think sometimes, part of being equipped is having the knowledge to know how to do, but then how do you transition and use where you live, work, and play to share the gospel?

Johnny Hunt: That is the truth. Because, in the past, we as Southern Baptists have basically come to the church on a special occasion, and then gone out to a certain area to share. But the bottom line of the Great Commission is, we’re really to be sharing as we go. And so, basically, we all have circles in life—concentric circles.

Johnny Hunt: Of different places that we frequent on a regular basis, whether it’s the person at the bank that I’ve taken the time to share the gospel with, invite them to church with Janet and I. Whether it’s the gentlemen at the service station who’s always a nice person that serves me, that knows me on a first name basis at a Starbucks, the people who do my laundry, where Janet gets her nails done (same place JD goes).

Johnny Hunt: But anyway, basically, we’re constantly looking for an opportunity. Now we’ve just relocated. We’ve moved our residency, and so now I have new neighbors. And Janet’s already said, “We’ve got to go see.” We tried to visit one neighbor and missed them, and honestly, they came to our house and missed us. So we’re going to meet someone new, and we have a chance to engage them, and then turn it into a gospel conversation.

Kevin Ezell: Exactly.

Kevin Ezell: Well, we talk a lot about having gospel conversations, but we don’t talk as much about the fears that people have, or that they may face when opportunities arise to have these conversations. What are some of the biggest hang-ups you think that people face when it comes to sharing the gospel, and how can pastors specifically equip their members to overcome those fears?

Johnny Hunt: I like to think of the fact that we overthink things. And that’s where the fear factor comes in. Turning a regular conversation into a gospel conversation is like taking your next breath if you really think about it. For instance, some of the greatest gospel conversations I have are after a Sunday morning worship. I’ve just preached a message, or my co-pastor has preached. I’m down front, just kind of greeting people.

Johnny Hunt: Somebody comes up and says, “Hey, Pastor Johnny, brought our neighbors today,” and so they’re very cordial. We begin to engage one another, and then I may just say, “Hey, so delighted to have you here today. So, when you’re not attending or visiting Woodstock, where do you folks attend? Where do you call home?” And then, after they begin to talk about a church I just say, “Hey, let me ask you a question. When you were attending that neighboring church, was there a time in your life where you turned from your sins and put your faith in Christ?” Just as natural as saying, “Where are you going to have lunch today?”

Johnny Hunt: And it’s easy to answer, and the neighbors say, either, “No, I’ve never done that, I was really kind of hoping to talk to you about it, or make an appointment with you.” Or, “No, that happened at another church earlier.”

Johnny Hunt: “Well that’s good, you guys kind of plugged in and feeling like you’re growing your relationship with God?”

Johnny Hunt: But it’s so easy to turn that around. So I’ve led more people to faith in Christ after the services, so it’s there. Same thing, whether I’m at my doctor’s office or wherever, “Hey, what’s been going on in life?” And in just a matter of moments, you could say, “Hey, we were just in Cuba.”

Johnny Hunt: “So what were you doing there?”

Johnny Hunt:   “Well, we’re training there, but gosh, they ought to be training here. They’re doing the best job of making Jesus known, and helping Cubans realize their need to repent and place their faith.” And I just turn the conversation, it’s not even directed towards that individual. But then they may say, “Hey, I’ve really heard a lot about this repentance. What exactly do you mean?”

Johnny Hunt:  I mean, sometimes, if we’ll just open the door, they’ll walk right in comfortably, and just give you an opportunity to share what’s going on in your life.

Kevin Ezell: Right.

Johnny Hunt: So one of the fear factors is really, we think through things that really don’t exist. They’re strawmen. Normally when somebody says, “I shared with someone today, and I really dreaded it, I was so fearful of how they’d respond. And it was nothing like I had anticipated.”

Kevin Ezell: Right.

Johnny Hunt: And so you don’t know until you try that. You’re so fearful they’re going to ask you a question you can’t answer. That’s happened to me, and I simply just say, “Boy, that is a great question. I’m going to make note of it, I’d be delighted to email you and share with you my findings if you would like an answer on this.” And it is just so easy to share, you don’t have to come across like, “I know it all.” Because I don’t.

Johnny Hunt: And I just want to show that I care.

Kevin Ezell: Sometimes we just make it too complicated.

Johnny Hunt: Absolutely.

Kevin Ezell: You don’t have to have a seminary degree, and the best way to share your is to tell your own story. You’re an expert on what Christ has done in your own heart.

Johnny Hunt: On three different occasions, the apostle Paul stood before different people and, basically, went through a story. “I was on the Damascus road at about noon time, and a light shone from heaven, and I’m the only one that heard a voice.” And he tells this story. And then he says, “I’m hopeful the same thing will happen to you.”

Johnny Hunt: So we just need to tell the story. And everyone that has been changed by Christ has a story, has a witness, they have a testimony. And just as much as someone comes into a courtroom to testify, and they just tell what they know, that’s all we’re doing. It’s the John chapter 9, “I was blind, now I see.”

Kevin Ezell: Well, I think the best thing you said was, somebody asks a question and you didn’t know the answer to it, you mean that actually happened?

Johnny Hunt: Actually happened on more than one occasion.

Kevin Ezell: See, that’s just comforting for a pastor to know that. Because you always have the fear of failure. And I think if we could just help our people understand, there’s no need to fear that. And you can just write it down and say, “Hey, I’ll get back with you.” But you don’t have to be an expert on every theological issue to share your faith.

Johnny Hunt: No, not at all. And I think the main thing is if they know you’re listening … Because if I cut them off and ask a question to say, “Well, don’t distract them, let me just get to the issue.” They don’t really see you as desiring to have an honest conversation.

Johnny Hunt: But if I just say, “that really is a great question, but I’ve never really researched that.” Or, they’ll say, “What do you think Revelations so-and-so means?” And I’ll say, “I’m not even sure what that verse is. But I’ll research it for you. And, give me your email address or I can call you or we can meet,” and then just tell them the truth.

Kevin Ezell: Well, thank you, Brother Johnny. Here at the North American Mission Board, we have resources available to help pastors equip their members to share the gospel. A few of these resources include, Who’s Tour One Kit, the 3 Circles Conversation Guides, and the Live This Kit, which is based on John Meador’s tool called One Conversation.

Kevin Ezell: First Peter 3:15 says to always be ready to give an account to everyone who asks, to give a reason for the hope we have. Pastor, let’s make sure we are being intentional about equipping our members to live on mission, and encouraging them to do so. If you have any questions about evangelism, email them to us at evangelism@namb.net, and we will try to answer them on our very next podcast.

Kevin Ezell: Thanks for listening to “Evangelism with Johnny Hunt.”