Evangelism with Johnny Hunt

#19 – Evangelism Training Tools: Artificial or Necessary?


Sometimes we dismiss tools that help us share the gospel because they feel less organic. In this episode, Senior Pastor of Family Church, Jimmy Scroggins, talks with hosts Kevin Ezell and Johnny Hunt about the necessity of having an evangelism training tool pastors use to help train their church in sharing the good news. Listen in as he discusses how Family Church incorporates evangelism training into their volunteer positions, making it a rhythm in their church culture.


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Speaker 1: You are 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: You’re listening to the Evangelism with Johnny Hunt podcast. I’m Kevin Ezell and with me is Johnny Hunt. And today a special guest, Jimmy Scroggins.

Johnny Hunt: Well, Brother Jimmy, thank you so much for joining us again on this podcast. We’re so excited about what God’s doing in the Family Church there in West Palm Beach and how He’s using you and your people. So want to just talk a little bit about evangelism.

Johnny Hunt: When it comes to equipping others in evangelism, we’ve heard the phrase that “a passion for evangelism is better caught than taught.” Can you explain this to pastors who are listening today and others about exactly what we mean by that?

Jimmy Scroggins: Well, I think that evangelism is better caught than taught and the truth is, almost everything’s better caught than taught. I mean, people learn when they watch somebody they like and admire do something that they want to do.

Jimmy Scroggins: To me, if people can see me, the people on our team, the people that work at Family Church, our other pastors and other ministers and employees, if people in our church and lay leadership see me personally sharing the gospel, they meet people that I’ve had gospel conversations with.

Jimmy Scroggins: They can be out to eat with me, and I can show them how to turn a conversation to a gospel conversation. The more they see it, the more they realize it’s really simpler than they thought and it’s really not inaccessible.

Jimmy Scroggins: A lot of times they’ll see me do it unsuccessfully. I’ll try to turn a conversation into a gospel conversation, and it won’t work. But heck, at least they see I was trying. And so to me, if they can do that, it makes it seem accessible, and that’s how I think they catch it. And I think that’s important.

Johnny Hunt: Yeah. I think it even makes them feel a little better about themselves in that they see those of us they consider the pros fumbling the ball every now and then as well. So …

Jimmy Scroggins: Oh, I’ve had our staff members out with me in different environments, and I’ll try to turn a conversation to a gospel conversation or say something clever and it’ll just flame out. And afterwards they’ll be dying laughing. “Wow, Pastor. That was a real good one.” I’m like, “Well, guys, I’m trying.”

Kevin Ezell: Hey, Jimmy, do you remember … In case some of you guys don’t know, Jimmy was my student minister for about 10 years, and we were trained at Faith down Daytona Beach, I mean, decades ago.

Jimmy Scroggins: Oh, yeah.

Kevin Ezell: Hey, do remember the time that you and I went out door-to-door visiting in Daytona Beach, and I took a house.

Jimmy Scroggins: Yeah, that was a pretty rough area, too.

Kevin Ezell: Yeah, it was a real rough area. But I took a house, and it went okay. We were alternating who’d take what house. Then your house, remember the lady that came? Wasn’t she like a …

Jimmy Scroggins: She was some member of some cult or something. It was really weird.

Kevin Ezell: Yeah, she was a priestess. Yeah.

Jimmy Scroggins: Yeah. She told us about it.

Kevin Ezell: Yeah. Yeah. You completely blew that one and it was just fun to watch.

Jimmy Scroggins: Well, yeah.

Kevin Ezell: Since then, though, I see you—

Jimmy Scroggins: I don’t really remember that.

Kevin Ezell: Hey, obviously the 3 Circles tool is something that we’ve promoted here at the North American Mission Board. It’s been the most successful tool that NAMB has ever promoted. We have millions of those out there. And, one, I’m grateful for you giving that to us free and allowing us to get it across the Southern Baptist Commission. Actually, literally across the world.

Kevin Ezell: But what exactly, could you explain if some guy, if he’d been living under a rock and does not understand what the 3 Circles is, could you explain what exactly is a 3 Circles evangelism tool.

Jimmy Scroggins: I mean, it’s basically a simple way to draw out three simple ideas about the gospel, about God’s design for people in our lives, about sin and brokenness that results when we depart from God’s design and about the opportunity to recover and pursue God’s design by repenting of our sins and believe in the story of Jesus, the gospel.

Jimmy Scroggins: And so it’s a simple way. It’s a conversation guide. It allows people to insert Bible verses or their own story, their own testimony, if they want. It’s an open source tool, so everyone can take it and use it as a guide to move a conversation forward. But they can make it their own and adapt it to their own style and their own preferences.

Jimmy Scroggins: So we found it to be very helpful and different. The North American Mission Board has used it, I Am Second and those guys, and we’re glad for people to use it because it’s just a simple way of guiding a conversation forward and inviting people to make a decision to repent of their sins and believe in Jesus.

Kevin Ezell: Thank you know it’s grateful for that, Jimmy. And one thing for pastors or staff members or some key lay leaders in their church listening, I actually took that and presented it on a Sunday morning service. Just took a whiteboard. I felt like if I’d have had a sweater vest on, they would’ve probably thought it was Kevin Ezell up there.

Kevin Ezell: But I was making this presentation to with research-

Johnny Hunt: Be much more boring to be Kevin E.

Kevin Ezell: And later I started getting emails of people said they went to lunch and said their daughter began to share with the waiter while they were sitting there, the 3 Circles, while they was serving food to the table. And it was so easy for us to learn.

Kevin Ezell: But let me tell you why I’m so excited about that. We are learning from the latest research from our Southern Baptist Convention, through seminary presidents, that one of the problems is that most people have laid aside their programmatic evangelism training and the problem, Jimmy, they’ve not replaced it.

Kevin Ezell: And now probably up to 80% of our Southern Baptist churches have no evangelistic training tool. So talk to us. Is it important? Has that really helped the family church to have a tool they could use in sharing?

Jimmy Scroggins: Well, it really is and I would even add to that. The last major initiative in Southern Baptist life for evangelistic training was the faith initiative. But good grief, Brother Johnny, that was in the ’90s.

Jimmy Scroggins: That means that we have an entire generation, a 20-year gap. So there’s been no denominational-wide training at all for 20 years.

Johnny Hunt: Hmm.

Jimmy Scroggins: So we have a whole generation of people who’ve never been trained in anything, even if they have an openness to it.

Jimmy Scroggins: I do think that at our church, this has been very, very helpful. We find it to be a way for people to have a gospel conversation. It’s not as canned and programmed, necessarily, as some of the methods that I was trained in growing up. But people have really latched onto it.

Jimmy Scroggins: I’ll tell you who likes it the best, Brother Johnny. People who are new to the faith and they don’t know a lot of Bible verses and they don’t know a lot of Bible stories, they tend to really grab ahold of the 3 Circles.

Jimmy Scroggins: We were all trained in evangelism explosion and that’s what I call the Seal Team Six Special Forces Evangelistic Training Tool. It’s the greatest tool that’s ever been designed, but you virtually have to have a seminary degree. I mean, that thing has flowcharts and verses and arrows and diagrams.

Jimmy Scroggins: The 3 Circles just kind of goes really, really easy. It’s a simple way to talk about the gospel. And people who are new to the faith or even we’ve had people share the 3 Circles the day they were converted with some of their friends or family members and lead them to Christ.

Johnny Hunt: Yeah, it’s incredible. And we’re hearing more and more stories and like I say, I love it myself. Let me ask you this. How often do you do trainings and is it important to actually have time set aside where you’re training and modeling evangelism for your church?

Jimmy Scroggins: I think it’s very important. But, you know, Brother Johnny, we do classes from time to time, but we found the best way to train the most people is to make it a part of our training for almost everything that we do.

Jimmy Scroggins: So an example would be we take hundreds of teenagers to camp every summer to our youth camp. Well, that requires 100 or 150 adult volunteers. Well, part of the adult volunteer training is every adult volunteer is trained in the 3 Circles.

Jimmy Scroggins: Well, I’m going to tell you right now, getting 150 of those adult volunteers of that quality and that level, who are that busy to show up for some six-week class on Wednesday nights it’d be almost impossible. But they definitely want to be a volunteer at youth camp, and we make it part of the training.

Jimmy Scroggins: We do the same thing with kids’ camp. We do the same thing with deacon training, with the same thing with our “next steps,” our altar counselors, and so forth. So we’ve trained hundreds and hundreds of adults by just making it part of our rhythm of training for almost every volunteer position that we have. We found that to be really helpful.

Kevin Ezell: We made it really easy with the phone app and iPad app, where you can just, I mean, so I was-

Jimmy Scroggins: Oh, yeah, the kids and the videos, all of it.

Kevin Ezell: Yeah. I just googled just 3 Circles to see what would come up. And it’s all over YouTube and, I mean, there’s so many different people who have put the same 3 Circles on different YouTube feeds. You can always go to the NAMB website and download any of that. It’s all free and we just want encourage to use the app, the iPad.

Kevin Ezell: And when I travel I can pull up the app itself and just lay it there on my iPad. And it never ceases, that the guy beside me will ask, “Hey, what is that?”

Kevin Ezell: I just shared with a guy flying to LA the other day. He is a MBA from USC. And he crossed his heart when we took off. I was like, “Hey, why do you do that?” I said, “Are you religious?” And he said, “Blank, no.”

Jimmy Scroggins: Yeah, during takeoff …

Kevin Ezell: Yeah.

Johnny Hunt: Yeah, and landings.

Kevin Ezell: He’s figured it wouldn’t hurt. Then, so I was able to easily go through 3 Circles and he said, “Man, that is the coolest.” He’s an entrepreneur. He said, “That’s the coolest thing.” He said, “Man, I think I could make some money with that thing.” But he’s actually started going to Mariners Church out there in Irvine, where Eric …

Jimmy Scroggins: Oh, that’s awesome.

Kevin Ezell: Well, Brother Johnny, when it comes to trainings and tools, what was your preference at Woodstock or … I know you probably went through several different ones, but …

Johnny Hunt: We’ve really been using, and I know Jimmy and them were doing a good bit with it too, but we took the IMB’s Four Fields and we call it Great Commission initiative.

Johnny Hunt: And Jimmy, when you mentioned a moment ago, there’s been really 20 years of no training. I’ve been sharing with a team around NAMB today that our millennials and even our high school students are the largest number attending our training. Because I think we’ve gone through a generation that has not seen or known exactly what we meant by personal witness or soul winning.

Johnny Hunt: So it’s been so refreshing to see my high school students just think like, “Where has this been?” Because you mentioned 1990s, and now here we are 20 years later and we’re introducing maybe the next tool for us to use in SBC life.

Kevin Ezell: Well, the most important thing I think you would agree is that every pastor have a tool. I mean every church needs some type of game plan and as you just stated, oh, 80% do not. And I just want to encourage every pastor listening.

Kevin Ezell: Look, if it’s 3 Circle, Jimmy would tell you he’d prefer 3 Circles, Foursquare’s five triangles. We don’t care exactly how you share the gospel. It’s that you do it, and you lead your people to do it.

Kevin Ezell: Brother Johnny, thank you for your time. Jimmy, thank you for your time to go over this.

Jimmy Scroggins: Honored to be here.

Kevin Ezell: So grateful for your example and the way you lead your churches.

Johnny Hunt: Thanks Jimmy.

Kevin Ezell: We appreciate you being on the podcast today, Jimmy.

Kevin Ezell: And Pastor, this evangelism tool that Brother Jimmy mentioned today is just one of many that you and your church can use. The way in which we share the gospel is not what’s important. What really matters is that we are actually sharing.

Kevin Ezell: If you have any questions about evangelism, please send them to us at evangelism@namb.net and we will try to answer them on a later podcast. Thanks so much for joining us.