As a leader in the church, it’s hard to talk about evangelism. It might not be as hard as some other topics, but it’s probably in the top 10.
Years ago, during my season of youth ministry with Doug Fields at Saddleback Church, he developed a simple strategy we called Friendship Evangelism (neither of us are really creative with naming stuff, I used to teach a survey of the Bible class called “Bible Institute.”). Our goal was to challenge and empower ALL of our students to share their faith. We asked them to commit to praying regularaly for five firends who didn’t know Jesus. To empower them, we laid out some simple steps for sharing their faith:
1. Tell your friend you are a Christian.
2. Invite them to a weekend service
3. Ask them if it’s ok to share your story
4. Tell them how and why you became a christian
5. Help your friend to know Jesus personally.
(I may have hacked this a little…I’m going from memory…feel free to crack open a purpose driven youth ministry and correct me in the comments below.)
I love the friendship evangelism challenge. Here’s why: It’s a natural approach to sharing the gospel, something EVERY believer can do. Everyone can learn how to have a serious conversation about God with a friend. Everyone would rather hear about serious stuff from a friend rather than a stranger.
I get that SOME people can memorize a few “answers,” accost strangers and beat them over the head with the gospel. Most people can’t do that “evangelism method.” Of course God uses this. Of course it’s great, it’s always great when people express their gifting. In my experience, very few people are gifted this way.
A few months into my new ministry to High School Students, I decided it was time to talk about friendship evangelism. I dusted off the far corners of my hard drive and looked at all the old stuff Fields and I created together. The principle was sound: challenge students to share their faith and get them to commit.
However, the old stuff wasn’t best for my current ministry context. I recreated the materials to reflect two significant changes:
(a) Rather than focus on what to say, I wanted to emphasize the need to pray regularly and serve in practical ways. I included the practical guidelines for what to talk about, but I wanted to clearly communicate one thing: worry less about your words, if you’re committed to praying and serving, God will tell you when and what to say.
(b) I also changed the follow up training materials. We are currently doing nothing to equip students to grow on their own. Therefore I changed the follow up to be less informational and more of a personal Bible study / reflection guide.
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and we gave them some simple steps for what
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