Announcer: 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 Evangelism with Johnny Hunt podcast. I’m Kevin Ezell and with me is Johnny Hunt, and today, a special guest, Jimmy Scroggins, pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach. Brother Jimmy, you are one of the most evangelistic guys I know, second to only Brother Johnny and, of course, James Merritt. But whether you’re meeting with somebody who’s visited your church, you’re playing a round of golf, you always have stories about sharing the gospel, which always inspires us.
Well, Jimmy, tell us, at your church there, Family Church in West Palm Beach, what is it that you do to set the evangelistic culture in your church? How’d you build that evangelistic culture in your church?
Jimmy Scroggins: Well, one, I would just say that the evangelistic culture is a moving target. I don’t think you ever can say, “Hey, now our church is evangelistic.” We’re always trying to become more evangelistic, that’s true for me personally. It’s true for the Scroggins family, and it’s certainly true for Family Church, but I do believe that culture is mediated through leadership over time, and so to me, it starts with me. If I’m gonna be the senior pastor, the lead pastor, then I have to be modeling evangelism in my personal life, in my family life, and in my ministry life, and then you’ve got to coach that, and you’ve got to teach to that, and it’s got to be something that you’re constantly encouraging people to do and holding people accountable for.
Johnny Hunt: Right. Hey, thanks, Jimmy. That’s a great statement. Would this be too bold of a statement: If evangelism is not important to the pastor, it’s really difficult for it to be important to the church.
Jimmy Scroggins: I think it’s totally fair. In fact, I would say probably that’s true of anything, isn’t it?
Johnny Hunt: Yeah, I agree, and I think that I said I was glad to hear you say that because in what we’re observing across the country is the churches that have really established a good culture for evangelism, it’s always emanating from the pastor’s heart.
Jimmy Scroggins: Well, I think that’s true. And plus just the, you know the gospel requires us and compels us to love people enough to tell them the truth about Christ. And you know, a lot of it just comes with, a lot of people talk about evangelism, but actually doing evangelism with far-from-God people requires time and it requires love, and just being willing to love people that are hard to love and people that think differently than we do, and make different kinds of decisions in terms of their lifestyle than maybe we do. But all of that comes down to being able to love people enough to tell them the truth in a winsome way about the gospel of Jesus.
Kevin Ezell: Exactly. Jimmy, and you’re two or three circles … Ultimately, it comes down to an ask, and when we talk about evangelism, we’re talking about sharing our faith, but ultimately, working to the point of an ask. And even in the worship service, we talk about invitations, and there’s debate often, you know, whether to give an invitation each week or how to give an invitation each week. Would you just share, in an evangelistic culture in your church, is giving an invitation each week … Is that a part of it, or how do you process all that as a pastor?
Jimmy Scroggins: Well, to me, I mean, you’re not doing evangelism unless you’re inviting people to make a decision to repent on their sins and believe in Jesus. And so, whether that’s a one-on-one conversation or whether you’re speaking to a group, evangelism is really not being done unless you’re inviting them in a clear way to make a decision to trust Jesus. And so certainly, in every family church environment, certainly on Sunday morning worship services, but almost every environment where we gather people, and they are likely to be people there that don’t know Christ, we’re gonna clearly invite them.
Now, a lot of the debate, Brother Kevin, Brother Johnny, comes down to me, people don’t like, or they’re very particular about the way you give an invitation. So if people think an invitation can only be given if you play a song and have everyone stand up and have people walk down to the front during the song, well, we don’t do that every week, but every single week, at Family Church, at every service, in every language, at every location, we’re going to clearly invite people to take a step so that they can trust Christ and we can help them do that.
Johnny Hunt: Well, that’s really good, and I totally agree. Some way to invite. And I’ve really heard a lot of brothers say lately, and it’s been encouraging, that you really haven’t clearly shared the gospel until you invite the person to repent of their sins and believe the gospel. And so, and I like the fact of whatever way we do that. And the main thing is that we have laid out the good news and the person maybe even, like on the day of Pentecost, is saying to the apostle Peter, “What should we do?” And he tells them, basically. Repent and receive Christ, the gospel. So that’s encouraging, and I think helpful.
Jimmy Scroggins: Well, Brother Johnny, part of it is, you know, St. Paul says that his goal is to persuade people to believe in Jesus, and so to me, I’m trying to persuade them, I’m trying to bring them to make a decision, knowing full well that only the Holy Spirit can actually make that all happen. I’m just part of the process that God chooses to use. And then, on top of that, you know, in my personal ministry and in my personal evangelism, I use a sinner’s prayer. I believe in a sinner’s prayer. I think it’s very helpful in helping people express the faith that they have in Christ, and I think giving people clear next steps … Here’s what we want you to do. Here’s how we can help you. And then, of course, you want to culminate by celebrating baptism. I mean, that’s the ultimate celebration of someone accepting Christ in the New Testament and in the churches throughout history, is we baptize them as new believers in Jesus by immersion.
Kevin Ezell: Hey, you said celebrate. Jimmy, how do you celebrate evangelism in your church? Obviously, baptism, you just said, is one way. But do you guys have, essentially, an environment, a culture there, where the whole church does that? How would you suggest for pastors to celebrate evangelism in the church?
Jimmy Scroggins: Well, again, I’m going to make some suggestions. These are things that we do. But again, I’ll be the last one to say that I have arrived personally as an evangelist or that my church is the ultimate example of an evangelistic church. But some of the things that we do, we do encourage people to share the gospel, ad then we encourage them to share about sharing the gospel. So we don’t think it’s all that helpful to only celebrate it when someone comes to Christ because we want to tell stories of gospel conversations, and I really like that phrase, gospel conversations. So we’re trying to encourage gospel conversations, train people to have gospel conversations, and celebrate gospel conversations.
And then the other thing is, when it comes to baptism, when people receive Christ, we try to let the people that were actually involved in the gospel conversations, we try to let them do the baptizing. And so we have people of all ages and life stages in the baptistry with us actually putting their hands on people, putting them in the water, and we’ve found that the more we let people celebrate the fruit of it, and the public phase of it, it kind of motivates them to be involved in the more difficult private phase of evangelism, which is the gospel conversations.
Kevin Ezell: Mercy. Is that like, is that biblical? Can you do that?
Jimmy Scroggins: Well, the Bible doesn’t give us a whole lot of instructions, so if the Bible doesn’t tell me how, I think we’ve got some freedom.
Johnny Hunt: Yeah, I love it. I tell you, we’re doing the same thing now. And that does make a lot of difference. And even just to people to come and stand there and say the reason these are standing … I’m privileged to actually be part of the baptism this morning, but the only reason we’re celebrating is because these precious ones shared the gospel and led this person to Christ.
So a lot of times, I do the baptizing, but then many times, they do the baptizing. A neighbor baptizes a neighbor, a friend baptized a friend, so I love it.
Kevin Ezell: Well, Jimmy, listen. Thank you so much for just sharing your passion for evangelism, how you’re leading your church to have a passionate focus on evangelism. And Brother Johnny, grateful for your example and your passion, as well, how you’ve led Woodstock and how you’ve actually encouraged pastors all over the country to do the exact same thing.
Johnny Hunt: Well, thank you. And I want to encourage all of those that are listening to know that when we do our Engage 24, and you’ll hear more and more in our videos about that, you have the opportunity to hear Jimmy Scroggins share, and you will be challenged, as I have been, every time I’ve heard him.
Kevin Ezell: Well, thanks for listening to Evangelism with Johnny Hunt. If you have any questions about evangelism, send them to us at Evangelism@NAMB.net, and we’ll try to answer them on a future podcast. See you next time.