Have you noticed the newest jargon we’re using in church circles these days? The term “gospel conversations” is the new “witnessing” or “soul winning” of days long past. There are many reasons I like this new expression. Mainly though, it appeals to me because of its emphasis on everyday conversations and how it centers on the one thing that matters the most – the gospel.
Training believers to have gospel conversations with their friends, neighbors and co-workers must be one of the top priorities for pastors and leaders today. This is the only way to penetrate our communities with the Gospel. Over the last few years I’ve come to understand and believe the following statement:
The future of the world depends on the average believer being able to proclaim the message of the gospel.
If we believe that the gospel has enough power to change the world and that dedicated believers are the conduit that God will use to take it to our communities, we must focus like never before on training these potential champions. Let’s put away the oft-quoted and dismal statistic that 95 percent of Christians never share their faith. Instead, let us take action by finding inspired obedience to go and make disciples by training all of our members to effectively have gospel conversations.
As pastors, that’s our job. According to 2 Timothy 4:5, its key to my role. That verse tells me that I’m to do the work of the evangelist. Ephesians 4:11-12 tells me to equip saints for the work of ministry. Pastor – it’s our job; better yet, it’s our calling!
As a senior pastor, I’ve personally trained more than 700 people to share their faith over the last 3 years. By “personally,” I mean that I’ve actively led and been engaged in 17 six-week semesters of our gospel training strategy called, Can We Talk? Simply put, I live and breathe the gospel in all facets of my role. I model it personally. I teach our trainers and trainees to share it. I regularly support it from the pulpit through preaching. I set our strategy around the gospel and constantly challenge our staff and lay leaders to be involved in equipping and sharing regularly. As the pastor, it starts with me! If I truly believe in 2 Timothy 4:5, I must lead well if I expect others to follow. It’s my conviction that we are failing to share with a lost and dying world because pastors everywhere have forgotten that it starts with them. Unfortunately, much of the dialogue about gospel conversations is simply talk with little to no action in practical application.
Here’s what we’ve learned over the last few years.
1. Equipping people to share their faith is far more involved than teaching them what to say.
It’s more than memorizing an outline or a plan. It requires time, intensity and focus. We are training people to converse in a strategic and eternal way.
2. On-the-job sharing is imperative.
While “practicing” on other believers is helpful, it cannot compare to the powerful sense of being used by God to share the gospel with unbelievers. You must get your people sharing with the lost because sharing the gospel will revolutionize their lives.
3. It takes six weeks of ongoing training (once a week) to help a person understand and have confident gospel conversations.
While I would love more time for each person, the bulk of your people will only give you this amount of time. And less time is simply not effective. This requires a deep level of commitment on the part of a pastor – one that is well worth it.
4. When you send teams into the fields (neighborhoods and homes of potential disciples), you are setting up an environment for the Holy Spirit to work in them (Acts 1:8) in a very powerful way.
This is what Jesus did as He sent his disciples out, and they returned amazed. (Luke 10:17) A pastor simply cannot give his people a better experience than this. I’ve seen people become alive and spiritually vibrant because they obeyed Him and became a witness. It deeply affects them forever.
5. Training people to share the gospel will invigorate your small groups.
People begin talking about the lost, praying for the lost and inviting the lost to attend church with them. Your church culture will begin to become more outward focused. Without a passion for the lost, all small groups become more self-serving than gospel-centered.
6. Your congregation will begin having gospel conversations with their own family and friends.
They will launch out and begin leading people to Christ because you’ve trained them to do this over an extended period of time. They know how to move a conversation from weather or football to the gospel. Can We Talk? effectively trains people in a variety of topics like this. People learn how to get to the gospel – and they do it!
7. Last, but certainly not least, people will hear the gospel in your community!
Gospel conversions to Christ happen when gospel conversations happen. We’ve seen hundreds of people place their trust in Christ over three years, but we also know that more than 3000 people have heard the gospel presented in a clear, complete and compelling way during our semesters. That’s huge in any community.
What goes beyond all this, of course, is the lifestyle change that takes place in someone who embraces the lifestyle of a witness. The backyard BBQs, the frequent little league sports practices and games and the daily interactions turn into gospel opportunities.
Pastor –The first step in being truly broken for the lost starts with you! Do you remember what it’s like to actually be lost? Still overwhelmed by grace? Gospel movements will happen when we stop debating and start doing! Do the work of the evangelist-have gospel conversations, and train your people to do the same!
Live This is a three-week series created to help prepare churches to have gospel conversations. It provides resources and tools that will enable every believer to share the gospel with nonbelievers. Order now.
Published May 30, 2018