Evangelism with Johnny Hunt

#28 – Turning the Tide in Evangelism


Hosts Kevin Ezell and Johnny Hunt kick off a new year of Evangelism podcasts by recapping some of the evangelism successes they’ve seen and heard from 2019 and providing a few nuggets of wisdom for how pastors can help get their churches’ efforts of intentionally sharing the gospel off to a fast start in 2020. One of those strategies includes an emphasis on sustaining the momentum of the Who’s Your One movement in local congregations.

Additional Resources: https://whosyourone.com/

Visit https://www.namb.net/evangelism/ for more resources that help mobilize your church into evangelism.


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:  Welcome back. I’m Kevin Ezell, and with me is Johnny Hunt. Pastor, everything we do here at the North American Mission Board is for the purpose of sharing the hope of the gospel. Our desire is to see every church living on mission, and we want to come alongside you and help in any way we can, which is why we created this podcast, Evangelism with Johnny Hunt.

Johnny Hunt: Well, thanks so much. It’s been a great year and you can always go back and listen to the episodes of 2019, and I would encourage you to do that. We’re hearing really encouraging reports of evangelism happening in churches, and we just want to help encourage that. Many of you have even taken part of our podcast and are playing them in your messages or playing them in meetings where pastors are challenging their people. So we trust you will listen. We hope that you can get some ideas, suggestions or practical advice from some of the pastors that we’ve been interviewing and how you can lead your own church in evangelism.

Kevin Ezell: Well, Johnny, you travel more than anyone I know. It’s funny when people ask, “Hey, what’s it like working with Brother Johnny?” Or, “How do you keep up with Brother Johnny?” I said, “It’s really not a problem. If I ever need to find him, I’ll just go to the Delta counter and wait for him.”

As you’ve interacted with so many pastors and churches this year, how would you now gauge the temperature of evangelism right now in our churches? Is it getting warmer or is it colder, or is it staying the same? Do you see any adjustment at all?

Johnny Hunt: Absolutely warmer. You know, I wish there was a way to tell in this year when the numbers come out, the differences made. But we realize, as many of my friends have said, the Southern Baptist Convention is like an extremely large battleship and it’s going to take time to turn it.

But I want everyone listening to know this: It’s not going to take nowhere near as long to turn it as you think. And the reason is because of all of you wonderful pastors, you ministers of evangelism, our state, national, local people that are really making much of evangelism.

It is absolutely warmer. There’s no two ways about it. Our desire and passion is just a fan to flame, and Kevin, the pastor is the key. Gosh, if we could just get every local pastor on board, that is, we bring our tour anywhere near them to bring their key people and let us encourage them, inspire them, challenge them as well as train them, what a difference it would make.

Kevin Ezell: Right. You know when people do ask, “What’s it going to take to turn the tide in evangelism in the SBC?” I’m often reminded of what Gypsy Smith once was asked when he was asked how to start revival, and he said, “It’s real simple. You go into a room all by yourself, take a piece of chalk and draw a circle on the floor. Then get down on your knees in that circle and pray that God would start revival in this circle.” And it really does start with a pastor.

Johnny Hunt: It really does. And the truth is, it does start with that one person that’s passionate. You know, we’re trying to always pass our burden on to someone else. I wish somebody would mind this. But the one thing that the pastor can never take his hands off the helm of, if he’s going to keep that ship steady, is evangelism.

Kevin Ezell: Right. And when I’m asked, “Hey, you think Brother Johnny will be able to turn this around?” And I say, “No. It’s 45,000 pastors are what’s going to turn this around.”

Johnny Hunt: Exactly, and I am so aware of that. I’m aware that if I can get them in the room, and encourage them, what a difference they will make in their own church.

Kevin Ezell: Well, Johnny, as pastors jump into the new year, how can they set the tone of evangelism in their church from the start of the new year?

Johnny Hunt: You know, if I were just saying, “Okay, here’s what I would do as a local pastor,” I would go right now to whosyourone.com and I would download the 40-day devotional that I personally read almost every day, and I’m reading it over and over again to keep my own heart warm, and just to see the emphasis in the scripture of where Jesus put so much emphasis on one. And I would let God do a fresh new work in my own heart, and then I would lead my people out of the literal overflow my own life.

And pastor know this: you cannot just preach evangelism and see it become a reality. You must, absolutely must, model evangelism. You must start it in your own life. Your people, after time, literally begin to resemble you, and so if you’re going to make evangelism a priority, it will become a priority in your church. Just you be patient in watching your church change, even as I sense the need to be patient to see our denomination change.

Kevin Ezell: Exactly. Last year, you led the way in kicking off one of the largest evangelism campaigns that we’ve done here at NAMB called, Who’s Your One?

It’s simple and yet it’s effective for pastors to engage their church members in evangelism. One question we’ve often received is, “Who’s Your One? Will that continue to be a priority or is it just something that NAMB was doing for one year?”

And obviously the answer is it will absolutely continue, and we just want to expand it. Would you want just to address that, of Who’s Your One? And the length of emphasis on the campaign, so to speak?

Johnny Hunt: Yeah. Evangelism is not just a vision for the sweet now and now. It is really a priority of our entire Christian experience. I guess the best way to talk about it is in the context of my own marriage. I’ve been married 49 years, yet I really, really, really seek to date my wife every week. She is a priority.

Evangelism is a priority. It’s an area that I deeply love and I love leading, and my heart is so full of new, fresh ideas, but yet the vision of getting Southern Baptists to get their one is important. Every church I preach in, every tour that we host, when I see people standing, simply saying, “I have my one.” Raising hands, “I have my one.” Going to our website and just simply putting that first name at the city and the state where they are, to just say, pray for this person, this one person by their first name in this city. It encourages me when I leave there. My passion is taken up a notch.

So here we started, literally launched this the 20th of February. Here we are now in November. I have more encouragement, passion, inspiration, everything that could be positive, to start a new year.

I see it just getting warmer and warmer, as we continue to lead in Who’s Your One?

Kevin Ezell: Right, and I tell them, “Who’s Your One? Isn’t just, ‘Who’s your one right now?”’ It doesn’t mean who’s your one for your lifetime, like you reach that one and you’re done. This is something we want to see people do for a lifetime, that they’re always focused on one.

Johnny Hunt: In my early days of knowing Christ, I remember someone saying, and it really is true, that after you become a Christian, probably the second greatest thing to becoming a Christian is having the privilege to lead someone else to faith in Christ.

You hear people say it’s almost like getting saved all over again. It’s just really their excitement of seeing someone born into the kingdom, knowing that they will not face Jesus Christ empty-handed, and there’s no need for anyone to face him empty-handed.

Yesterday I received a message and they said that they opened their church floor on Sunday to anyone talking about Who’s Your One? to inspire the others and they say it started with a lady in her 80s. They said when she finished talking about her one, before you know it, it was millennials talking, young adults talking and everyone was inspired.

And again, I was inspired all over again. So yeah, we’re going to keep it alive, by the grace of God.

Kevin Ezell: Well, Johnny, it’s one thing to launch something successfully. It’s really easier to launch something than to sustain it. And so what would you say to the pastor who did Who’s Your One? last year, and then now you start a new year and just … how do you keep it fresh, and how do you continue to engage your church in an evangelism effort?

Johnny Hunt: As a pastor in early 2020, and by the way, what a great year to continue it. 2020. If you read Acts 20:20, it says they went door to door. So the 2020 vision is really about people in Acts 20:20. Gosh, if you’re listening to this podcast, make a note of that passage and look it up. But here’s what I would do.

Kevin Ezell: I’m looking it up right now. I think you made that up.

Johnny Hunt: It’s really there. The 2020 vision of the Book of Acts. So what I would encourage our people to do is, I would have special Sundays. I would encourage everyone listening to encourage your church to have spontaneous baptism Sunday. We want to do it on Easter Sunday. We’ll do it again in September, Lord-willing. But even if those dates don’t work with you, choose a date and then really call your people to repentance and to obedience, and give them an opportunity to respond in that service and be prepared to receive them, whether it be one, or whether it be dozens that will come.

And then secondly, lay out a calendar that, “Hey, this particular Sunday in April is going to be Bring Your One.” Keep the emphasis out there. Continue to ask the people, “Do you have your one?”

Go to our website again, whosyourone.com. Download the simple little card where you write the person’s name to put in your Bible as a reminder to pray for them every day that God would bring them to saving faith, and then know this: When your people begin to obey the Great Commission and bring the one and see that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, they’re not going to stop there after knowing the joy of finding their one. They’re going to go to their next one, and so let’s keep it alive.

Kevin Ezell: As pastors set goals, of course Who’s Your One? is a goal. You’ve got the one you’re focused on, but as they lead their church to set goals for evangelism, how did you do that when you were pastoring? As far as, did you set a number goal or just tried to emphasize being obedient to the task?

Johnny Hunt: It really was obedience, and it’s really something. This morning I posted on social media a simple quote from Oswald Chamber, and it’s really, when you read My Utmost for His Highest, at the bottom of the page, he just sort of closes with a quote. And the quote today, was really about being obedient today. So really there were years that I would say, “Here’s our best year in evangelism. Let’s pray God change that. Let this year be our best year.” And it can happen.

For instance, in Southern Baptist life, many of you have heard me say, “On any given Sunday morning in our 47,000 Southern Baptist churches, 5,297,000 and some change show up in our churches.

If only 1 in 10 of our attenders would lead one person to faith in Christ over the next 12 months, we would double baptisms from last year, and we would baptize more people than we’ve ever baptized since we became a denomination in 1845. Keep that before your people.

So that’s what it looks like on a national scene. What does it look like on a local scene? What’s the most people your church has ever baptized? Why don’t you ask God to give you one more this year? In some churches, 15,000 baptized no one last year. May God change that for his glory.

And the last thing we want to do is never want to put anyone down. I want to encourage those of you that aren’t baptizing, we’re here to help you, not to use you as an example. You’re not a statistic. You are a specific prayer request, like in my own life, to see that turn around. So one young man called the other day and said, “We’ve not baptized anyone in four years. We introduced Who’s Your One?, we baptized eight so far this year.” That is phenomenal growth.

Kevin Ezell: Absolutely. Well pastor, thanks for joining us for this episode of Evangelism with Johnny Hunt. We are looking forward to all that God has in store this year as we partner together to reach people with the hope of the gospel.

Check out whosyourone.com to commit to praying for your one. As always, email us at evangelism@namb.net if you have any questions. We are so grateful to partner with you and your church.