Be an Influencer: A conversation with Johnny Hunt

In a culture that counts social media likes and shares as a measure of meaningful influence, what does it really mean to use your influence for the sake of the gospel?

ON MISSION: Who is someone who sticks out as a major influencer in your life?

JOHNNY HUNT: One of the first and greatest influences in my life was Odus and Viola Scruggs. When I pastored my first church—Lavonia Baptist Church in Gaffney, South Carolina—at age 23, God used them, a senior adult couple who had lost two children, to be drawn to my wife Janet and me. Their desire was to parent a pastor before they died. They were blessed by our ministry, and we were certainly blessed by their lives.

They paid for our college tuition, bought me and my family clothes, helped build my personal library and kindly gave me spending money for over three years.

OM: What have you done because of their influence?

JH: Janet and I underwrite a college education for a young couple in seminary in Argentina. We do that as a direct result and influence of the same thing that was done for us. In the last two years, another young student in our church was sent to seminary with our funding.We are grateful to pass on the influence that was invested in us.

OM: How can a believer prepare to influence his or her community for Jesus?

JH: In order for me to influence my community, I have to think of acts of kindness and ways to connect. Many say you can influence anyone who you connect with.

Janet and I open our home to anyone in the community we know. From those who do our laundry to those who cut and wash our hair to those who serve us coffee at Starbucks or change our oil, we make sure they know they’re welcome in our home for hors d’oeuvres. If they come, and some do, we present them with a gift. Often, Janet shares her story of how she was influenced by Jesus.

When we go out of our way to live intentionally, we influence the community we live in.

OM: What advice would you give to a believer wanting to influence a non-believer?

JH: It has been said people don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care. James Dobson once said, “We know who we love, and we know who loves us.” I believe that is true in each of our lives. If we genuinely love and care for someone, it is going to come across loud and clear.

For example, today I reached out to a Chinese woman and her husband and invited them to be guests of Janet and mine for Easter. We constantly reach out to let them know we are praying for them and to tell them how much they mean to us. We encourage them with texts or letters.

I also reached out to a gentleman named Percy today to tell him I enjoyed our conversation earlier and would like to continue that conversation as well as ask him to be my guest for Easter. You show people you care when you make investments in them.

Make time, and you will have the opportunity to influence them.

OM: As a believer, why is it important to share your faith?

JH: It is important to share your faith for various reasons. It is an act of obedience to the Great Commission. I recently read research explaining how men and women who desire to live godly lives are sharing the gospel. I also read how to ‘finish well’ as a believer and one of the major talking points was you share your faith with others!

I also need to share my faith with others because I desire for others to have the privilege to encounter God’s Son in forgiveness, and I feel an urgency and am compelled to mention eternal life!

OM: What verses come to mind concerning the biblical importance of sharing your faith?

JH: Several verses come to mind, but Luke 19:10 says, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost.” John 17:18 says, “Even as the Father has sent me, even send I you.” In 2 Corinthians 5:17, the Bible gives reference to the fact we are new creations in Christ. He refers to us as ambassadors for Christ. We are here as pilgrims, ambassadors from another country, to share the message of heaven to all on Earth.

OM: Tell me about Who’s Your One. Why is a movement like this significant now?

JH: My one is a man named Percy. I reached out to Percy today to invite him for Easter services. He thanked me for thinking about him and said he would be honored to be our guest. I have already shared the gospel with him once, and I look forward to him hearing the gospel again.

To understand why Who’s Your One is an important movement now, you have to reach back to 1948. About 71 years ago, baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention were as low as they are now. But, we can turn this around if just 10 percent of our Sunday morning attenders, which is over 5.3 million people on any given Sunday in our Southern Baptist churches, would share their faith. If that happens, we would see twice as many people come to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ than we did last year. And, we would see more people baptized than we ever have in any given year. Remember, that’s only 10 percent of our active Sunday morning attendance.

I would encourage everyone to pray daily for their one and ask God to give you opportunities to be extremely intentional in making the gospel known. Pray for courage to invite them into gospel conversations, and pray to see them saved over the next 12 months. Then, we would baptize over 530,000 people compared to last year when we baptized less than 250,000.

Hundreds and hundreds of churches have already joined. I really believe Southern Baptists are ready for this movement. So, I pray for this movement to have the wind of God at its back. I’m praying for the Spirit’s power to be its momentum—and that with the integrity of the gospel, we will make known the good news of Jesus to this nation.

To find out how to launch a Who’s Your One campaign at your church, go to

Published June 18, 2019