Join co-hosts Johnny Hunt and Kevin Ezell as they discuss where pastors practically begin leading their church in evangelism. Learn how modeling evangelism in your own life is a great first step for church leaders to start sharing the gospel. You’ll also hear personal stories and insights from pastor Johnny Hunt.
Kevin Ezell: Welcome back to the Evangelism with Johnny Hunt podcast. I’m your host, Kevin Ezell, along with my long-time friend and co-host, Johnny Hunt.
Kevin Ezell: Evangelism is the heartbeat of everything we do at the North American Mission Board. Church planning is about sending the hope of the gospel. Send Relief is about sending the hope of the gospel, and our evangelism and leadership team is about sending the hope of the gospel.
Kevin Ezell: On today’s episode, we want to continue our conversation on a pastor’s role in leading their church in evangelism and practical ways to do this. So, Brother Johnny, I know we both agree that evangelism starts with the pastor. Where do pastors practically begin leading their church in evangelism?
Johnny Hunt: They practically begin by modeling it in their own life, and it has to become their own passion. If it’s important to them, it will become important to the people. So, I was thinking I would model it first of all in my life, but I would really teach it. I would teach what the Bible says, and I’m really big on trying to challenge pastors to remind their people that the Bible is not just information we’re to know; it is really truth we’re to obey. And as the people begin to obey the teachings of scripture, they’re going to find themselves taking the gospel to those who are in desperate need of its truth. And so my teaching, exhorting, then modeling, I’m sharing stories. It just becomes part of the DNA of a church.
Kevin Ezell: You know, for somebody like yourself, you have a pretty aggressive personality. I mean, people are drawn to you. That’s not the case with every pastor. They don’t have some of the natural gifts and abilities, and they may be saying, “Well, look, that comes easy for Johnny Hunt, but it doesn’t come easy for me, and so how can I get there?” And to answer that question is one of the reasons that we’re taking Timothy Barnabas, and we’re so grateful that you lateraled that ministry to North American Mission Board, and we can utilize it to help train pastors in leadership and how to actually practically take their church from step one to step two to step three and helping us lead that, and your right hand man for many years is Jim Law who is the executive director of the evangelism and leadership team.
Johnny Hunt: Yeah. Jim Law has served with me at Woodstock for 28 years, and now we’ll just continue that legacy, and we’re grateful to God for it, and it’s been said that we may have been the two team members in our denomination that were most envied so the pastors say of a great relationship of working together, vacationing together, and really being best friends, so we modeled it together. He started with me when I first began hosting Timothy Barnabas retreats, and now for us to do it again after all these years is going to be exciting to say the least.
Kevin Ezell: How long have you guys ministered together?
Johnny Hunt: He was with me for 28 years at Woodstock, and as you know, he left about 30 days before me.
Kevin Ezell: That’s right.
Johnny Hunt: And so we just jumped right back in together.
Kevin Ezell: Also, people were wondering what his role is here. Obviously you’re the vice president of evangelism and leadership, but he’s the executive director, which in our terms, that would be the air traffic controller of knowing what labs to have where, what conferences to do where, what emphasis to put and really help directing not only you as far as where we want to put emphasis obviously, but who you want to have come alongside you to do it. We want more than just one voice out there pinging this message.
Johnny Hunt: Exactly, and really for any ministry that you want to cast vision for and certainly we want to do that for evangelism, somebody’s got to have vision. So, if God really gives me a deep vision for what could be, then you need that air traffic controller to make it happen, and I think that’s where a lot of pastors get bogged down. They see themselves as the vision caster and air traffic controller, but if they will really love and care for the people around them, they will join hands with them and become part of the harvest. So, nothing can be more discouraging to feel like I was in this alone or it was the only thing moving is what my hands were pushing.
Kevin Ezell: Well, my very first church, they voted me in seven to zero. It’s my only-
Johnny Hunt: Everyone was there.
Kevin Ezell: That’s right. It was my only unanimous call. But don’t laugh. I often tell people we had a national television ministry. We were on Cops twice. It was a high crime area, but I remember being there in that little church of seven. I didn’t know anybody. My dad was not in the ministry. He was a deacon at our church, but I didn’t know anybody. I didn’t have anybody that I could even call to say, “Hey, could you invest in me?” And that’s really what I know your heart behind Timothy Barnabas was to minister to pastors, and what we’re doing now is expanding Timothy Barnabas to include three different things.
Kevin Ezell: One will be labs where we’ll focus on evangelism, the passion part and the practical part. And then we’ll have Timothy Barnabas retreats. You’ve been doing those for years, but we have some of those focused specifically, especially on some bi-vocational pastors, and I know you have a heart for bi-vocational pastors.
Johnny Hunt: Absolutely.
Kevin Ezell: And what people don’t realize is a tremendous amount of the pastors in the SBC, of the 45,000 churches, are bi-vocational. Over 50% of the pastors in Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama are all bi-vocational, and so we want to help every pastor in any size church get to where they need to be.
Kevin Ezell: And then one of the things we’re very excited about on the Timothy Barnabas leadership side is the Timothy Barnabas Institute. We’re going to take 300 pastors in a cohort 45 years and under in one and then another 300 pastor cohort of pastors 45 and over and have a time for two years where we’re pouring into them leadership skills and evangelism skills, and so I know that’s at your heart.
Johnny Hunt: It is, and really sometimes you could say, “Well, these things, are they really in sync, evangelism and pastoral leadership?” And the truth is they really are. For instance, when we think of Timothy Barnabas, we start year 25’s January 1st of 2019. We thought of Timothy as instruction, Barnabas as encouragement.
Johnny Hunt: Now, if a pastor is not encouraged, he’s not going to be doing what he’s been instructed to do, so if we can encourage a pastor, say we can encourage them in evangelism and get him healthy again in his own heart, the way he views himself and the way he views his people because you can’t lead people you don’t love, and you can’t lead people you don’t believe in.
Johnny Hunt: If you begin to think, “Boy, I’ve just got a church that won’t do anything,” you’re sort of down on the people you’re leading when you need to believe in those people and that you can exhort and encourage them, and you’re going to see some major change in their life.
Johnny Hunt: So, there’s a lot of times a guy comes to our Timothy Barnabas retreat, and he’s ready to quit. Well, wait a minute, if he’s ready to quit, he certainly not ready to be sharing the gospel. He can’t even hardly care for his own heart much less the challenge of the hearts of his people. So, we can encourage him, he can be instructed, and then once again it becomes very evangelistic, begins to be outward focused again, and that’s our problem. We’re inward focused, inward focused on our church, inward focused on our own life and our own needs, and so I see it all working together.
Johnny Hunt: So, when we do our labs and retreats and institutes it’s to give instruction and encouragement and then to challenge them to be evangelistic.
Kevin Ezell: And help refuel.
Johnny Hunt: Exactly.
Kevin Ezell: And a lot of it even starts with helping them pray for one particular person. Even if they themselves is focused on evangelism, who’s their one person they’re praying for? Then that itself is going to model for their people.
Johnny Hunt: It’s my favorite stories in the Bible. When you think about Andrew bringing Simon Peter, and then you read just a few chapters later that 3000 people are converted under the proclamation of the message of Peter. I love this statement. You may be an individual that only touches one, but the one you touch may touch thousands, and so if we could just get all of our people involved sowing, but if not just thank God for those that are and the difference it’s going to bring in the church.
Johnny Hunt: So, we hope everything we do will push people in that direction. I look forward to the day where I’ll spend time with those that are maybe getting ready to be commissioned to go out in a major disaster with sin relief and just remind all of them, just to encourage them just be sure when you give that water, you give it in the name of Jesus. That we make the gospel the center of everything we do.
Kevin Ezell: You know, you hit on an important point. I think if every pastor saw themself as someone who needs to multiply themselves, you get there much quicker if you multiply yourself. Where Andrew invested in Peter and then saw all that Peter did. No one should be more excited about what Peter did than Andrew, and how many grandkids do you have?
Johnny Hunt: I have four.
Kevin Ezell: Four. All right. I’ve got five. I’m finally beating you in something.
Johnny Hunt: Yeah, you did. You got me.
Kevin Ezell: But no, I love following you on Twitter when you love to brag about your grandkids. We all do and for good reason. I mean, you just love them. It’s not that you don’t love your kids, but we enjoy the fruit of even our children, and I think evangelistically when you lead somebody to Christ who leads somebody to Christ and you learn the joy of multiplication … To me, multiplication is a one word summary of your ministry. You’ve done that for years. Over 20 years with Timothy Barnabas labs and conferences you’ve done all the time. You’re just constantly investing in pastors who in turn have invested in pastors who invested in pastors and making the very most of our time.
Johnny Hunt: Yeah, it really is. It’s exciting. I’m sitting here thinking, “Boy, there’s probably going to be some of our conferences in the future where maybe I bring in someone from the early days that I led to Christ that have become a vibrant leader or a pastor now and just remind everyone, inspire everyone.” 90 year olds were asked recently if they could do life over again, what would they do? And several things captured my heart, but one was, “I’d take greater risk,” and it takes a risk. Get out there and begin to share the gospel with everyone we come in contact with, and then they said, “I would invest more in that which would outlast me.”
Johnny Hunt: Well, nothing will outlast them more than another human being because they are going to be around for ever, and so God loves people more than anything. We’ve got to get back to being in the people business.
Kevin Ezell: Right. You think back on who is the person who led the person to the Lord who led the person to the Lord who led Billy Graham to the Lord?
Johnny Hunt: Exactly. Incredible.
Kevin Ezell: So, as pastors pave the way as the leader of evangelism in their church, we want to provide resources and tools to assist you along the way.
Kevin Ezell: On our next episode of Evangelism with Johnny Hunt, we will tell you about a few evangelism workshops that are coming up in the spring that are designed specifically to help pastors lead their church in evangelism, and again if you have any question on evangelism, email them to us at evangelism@NAMB.net, and we will try to answer them on the podcast. That’s evangelism@NAMB.net. If you can’t spell evangelism, maybe that’s the problem. All right.
Kevin Ezell: Hey, Brother Johnny, thank you for your time today.
Johnny Hunt: Hey, thank you. I can hardly wait to see what God will do.