Outreach That You Will Actually Do: Sharing Jesus Using Gospel Appointments (Part I)

If you’re anything like me (or other pastors for that matter) you may struggle at times to know how to share the Good News about Jesus Christ with others. Especially in a one-on-one setting.

Sure, it’s one thing to get up and speak to a large group… or even share within the context of a small group… but when you get one-on-one with someone it can quickly get intimidating. Especially in an age that preaches cultural tolerance and political correctness!

So what do you do?

Many of us have moved away from evangelist tracts or formulas  — not because they cease to be true, or even relevant, but because we feel like (and have heard that) they’re too impersonal and fail to be about relationship and/or discipleship… only conversion. We’ve learned that most non-Christians do not appreciate such forms of proselytizing.

So we’ve moved on to new models and attempts that are much more conscientious of the need to build a relationship (before/during) in order to “create space” to share what we believe… and learn about what others believe. But we can struggle to know how, and when, to move from more casual conversations to matters of faith.

If this sounds like you, than you should keep reading, because today’s post (as well as tomorrow’s) comes from Paul Worcester — offering  some ideas and insights into evangelism in the 21st Century — and describing a method that he’s found to be powerful and effective called Gospel Appointments.

So have a read… and share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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I want to share with you the most liberating evangelistic tool I have ever found. It is also the most effective method of person evangelism I have seen. This semester our ministry of sixty students has seen over 48 people accept Jesus as Savior and Lord! Most of these were from what we call “gospel appointments.” What is most exciting is the percentage of students that we have been able to personally follow-up and get plugged into discipleship training! After training our students with this tool every person on our leadership team has personally led someone to faith in Jesus. One girl in particular has led four freshman girls to Christ this semester and is meeting with each one to help them grow. It has truly felt like Acts 2:47 “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” One day on campus I received texts from various people in our ministry telling me they lead someone to Jesus. At the end of the day I realized that we had six students accept Jesus at gospel appointments that day! When I hear reports like this I sometimes weep and thank Jesus for the privilege of being used by him to make an eternal difference in the lives of students.

For years I have been looking for an outreach tool that mixes the best practices of relational and intentional outreach. I often struggle with initiative evangelism such as surveys and tracts because I am very busy and do not often see visible fruit from my efforts. I also struggle with many relational evangelism methods because rarely do the two or three people who I choose to befriend end up wanting anything to do with following Jesus. I still practice both methods and regularly train others to use them. I believe what Steve Sjogren once said “the best kind of evangelism is the evangelism that you do.” I am so glad I learned about this third option. I call it “intentional relational outreach.” Gospel appointments are highly relational because you are spending time getting to know the person and building trust. Gospel appointments are also intentional because a large part of the process is clearly explaining the good news and giving them a chance to respond to Christ.

Gospel appointments have been very effective on many other campuses also! My twin brother David at SDSU and Brian Zunigha at CBU both use gospel appointments almost exclusively to share Jesus on their campuses. This semester they each have seen many students receive Christ! Steve Shadrach author of the excellent book The Fuel and The Flame http://amzn.to/uFCQy5 also promotes this simple tool as a great way to introduce someone to Jesus.
It is so encouraging to know that college students are open to hearing the gospel! Ed Stetzer in recent survey discovered that 89% of the younger un-churched agreed that “If a Christian wanted to tell me about what he or she believed I would be willing to listen.” Last time I checked the harvest is still plentiful! (Matt 9:37-38) Below is a list of some benefits of this method and step by step how to do gospel appointments.

Benefits of Using Gospel Appointments

  1. They are simple to set up. (I will explain how in the next section.)
  2. They are an ideal setting to get to know someone. You can build trust and show them you sincerely care. (I can’t tell you how many times we have been thanked for taking the time to have a personal meeting with students. They are honored that someone would take interest in them.)
  3. They are perfect for you to discover their story and share your story.
  4. They minimize distractions that often come when sharing Jesus in other settings.
  5. They emphasize the importance of what you are talking about.
  6. There is plenty of time to share a full gospel presentation or illustration.
  7. They are great setting for setting up follow-up meetings. We simply ask “Would you like to do this again next week?”
  8. If they do not accept Jesus right away this is an ideal setting for initiating a relational evangelism friendship. (We have seen several students who were not ready to accept Jesus at our first meeting but over time through building friendships and intentional conversations they eventually received Christ!)
  9. Anyone can be trained to do this! They don’t need to be an extrovert or gifted in evangelism.
  10. They are effective! There is something about sharing the gospel clearly with people in a one-on-one setting that God uses. We have been using these for a little over 2 ½ years now and we have seen over 100 students pray to receive Christ!
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Tomorrow we’ll look at part II of Paul’s post exploring some of the “how-to’s” of Gospel Appointments.

For now, what are your thoughts?

Do you currently do anything like this?

Are there any challenges or issues you see with this method of sharing the gospel?

What questions might you have for Paul?

Please take a moment to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Paul Worcester is the Director of Campus Challenge at Chico State University in California.

 

About the author: Paul Worcester
Paul Worcester is the director of Christian Challenge www.ChallengeCSUC.com at Chico State in California. After planting Challenge a little over two years ago their team has seen over 100 students make decisions to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord. Paul’s passion is to equip people to effectively share Christ and multiply disciples to the ends of the earth. Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulWorcester and his new blog and resource site www.EngageTheMission.com
  • @Mike_Puckett

    I’ve just started learning about this kind of evangelism and I’m seeing it’s merit. On a college campus. Students are hungry for relationships and as Paul mentioned, a HUGE majority of students would love to have someone listen to them and dialogue with them about their beliefs. What a perfect context for focusing evangelism. I’m pretty new to campus ministry (2 years as an intern in the south and just over a year as the lead guy for launching new ministries in the Midwest) but every single student that I’ve lead to Christ has been in the context of gospel appointments (I didn’t know they had a name at the time).

    Often, when I am engaging students with spiritual conversation on campus, I will follow up a solid conversation with a gospel appointment.

    Good stuff Paul, thanks for sharing.

    • Paul Worcester

      Thanks Mike! Yeah alot of us had been doing similar things to this. :) I think it helps to have an intentional name and system set up for training students and staff how to do it. Tomorrow’s post will explain how we train people to do them.

  • http://twitter.com/bzuni Brian

    Paul, great post.  We’ve been using “gospel appointments” for a while and find that it’s a great way to build intentional relationships.  Instead of awkwardly transitioning from Chemistry to Christ the first time we meet someone we just ask someone to coffee the next day to talk about their spiritual journey.  I’ve found that they are more prepared to talk about spiritual things and I’m more prepared to share the gospel.  

    • Paul Worcester

      Thanks Brian! Thanks for sharing about these with me a couple years ago! They have made a huge impact on our ministry!

  • Brittany

    Being trained to intentionally share the gospel via gospel appointments has been awesome! It’s exciting to see people’s lives change because they heard the gospel, and are having follow-up meetings due to of the close relationship formed in an intimate one to one setting. Yay for gospel appointments! 

  • http://about.me/davidbartosik David Bartosik

    Not sure if I fully understand the concept of “gospel appointments” but eager to learn. Tracts and surveys seem old school, relationship evangelism can get a bad rap because people may never actually share their heart and their faith….hesitant but interested in this “G.A” idea.

    Though I am reminded of how I do not change peoples hearts- God does- and therefore feel no pressure to get people to accept Christ, but I do love love love being a conduit of God’s grace and seeing lives of college students changed.  

    In the same way tracts and surveys seem old school 50’s, sawdust trailish so does a “birthday conversion story”.  I feel like I grew up being told to know the day, hour and minute I converted to Christ, but now it seems more like a progression of coming to faith and as I look back on my life I could have told you a “birthday story” but I do not think I was really saved.  I cannot mark a date, but rather God’s faithfulness in my life and I do not want to diminish he effectiveness of these “G.A’s”but want to be very careful about the value of discipleship, followup, foundations, and any other buzz word that has to do with long term value added.  

    Stoked to hear more- you’ve wet my appetite and the only solution is more cowbell…or another post tomorrow about evangelism and the practical side of this model.

    • https://twitter.com/#!/PaulWorcester Paul Worcester

      Thanks David! Yours are common concerns in the area of evangelism. First we can take no credit when people decide to follow Christ. It is all the work of God and I believe as Bill Bright said “Success in witnessing is taking the initiative in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results up to God. The only failure in witnessing is a failure to witness.”  We do however celebrate positive responses to the gospel and diligently follow up with the person. The ultimate issue is not whether they pray a certain prayer but if God regenerated their heart. Are they “born again” with true repentance and faith. Sometimes it is hard to tell, but we still celebrate a positive response to the gospel and continue the process of meeting to talk about Christ. We have found that even though gospel appointments ask for a decision, (which I believe is modeled in scripture) they are actually the first step in the process of discipleship.  Thanks for your thoughts!

  • http://twitter.com/davidworcester David Worcester

    I use this method as well.  I think the principle here is that people appreciate the personal nature of these meetings.   As Rick Warren said, “personal is always more powerful.” 

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  • Mark

    Simplicity with thoroughness is always best.  This is good insight.

  • David

    Just praying or accepting Jesus into the heart leads to a religious conversion. Only if they repent and get baptized they will be forgiven and receive God’s Spirit.

  • http://www.appointmentsetting.com/ appointment setting

    This is really good article to read and the image of two chairs and table is really good. Appointment taking is hard work in telemarketing. And some time you are not able to take the meeting with high post person so appointment setting need to fix using special services.

  • jessicaisro

    This is not easy method of to learn but I would love to try this and I want to check the differences after this.

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