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!
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
- They are simple to set up. (I will explain how in the next section.)
- 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.)
- They are perfect for you to discover their story and share your story.
- They minimize distractions that often come when sharing Jesus in other settings.
- They emphasize the importance of what you are talking about.
- There is plenty of time to share a full gospel presentation or illustration.
- They are great setting for setting up follow-up meetings. We simply ask “Would you like to do this again next week?”
- 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!)
- Anyone can be trained to do this! They don’t need to be an extrovert or gifted in evangelism.
- 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!
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.
Paul Worcester is the Director of Campus Challenge at Chico State University in California.