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FIRST-PERSON: Making evangelism good news again

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Dr. Chuck Kelley of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary states, “Southern Baptists are a harvest-oriented denomination living in an unseeded generation.” What if 16 million Baptists consistently and faithfully engaged everyone they encountered with a positive touch in the name of Jesus Christ? The multiplied effect would be powerful!

Justin came to a small church in Georgia only a couple of months ago, invited by a young lady in the youth group. As with every visitor, Justin was given a warm welcome by church members.

From his very first visit, the young people of the church made sure he sat with them, front and center, in the worship service. As the weeks passed, Justin became involved in Sunday School.

Recently, members of the youth group invited Justin to go with them to “SuperWow,” a student conference sponsored by the Georgia Baptist Convention. Of the 12 guests invited, at least three of them received Christ. One of these was Justin.

After SuperWow, Justin publicly professed his faith in Jesus. Before he was baptized, Justin spoke to the church. In his short testimony he shared a key event leading to his conversion that none of the congregation had heard before.

He told of a friend from school that had been witnessing to him. One day Justin was at his friend’s house. Finding his friend’s journal, curiosity got the best of Justin and he began to read. Tears filled Justin’s eyes as he told the congregation of reading the following journal entry: “Lord, please do something special for Justin today and accomplish something magnificent in his life.”

Church members were touched. The Lord moved. The beginnings of revival ensued.

Simple stories like this probably could be repeated in church after church throughout the Southern Baptist Convention. Upon closer analysis, though, this simple account illustrates a powerful truth; the scriptural principle of seed-sowing.

Spiritual seed-sowing recognizes the fact that, usually, no single event is used by God for an unbeliever coming to faith. In Justin’s life a number of Christians provided a multitude of “touches” with the Gospel, unknowingly working together under the organization of the Holy Spirit to bring Justin to the Savior:

A friend invited Justin to church. The Gospel was preached to him. A friendly church welcomed him. A youth group enfolded him. A Sunday School teacher taught him. SuperWow speaker Thomas Young related the truths of Scripture him. Christian contemporary rock group “Big Daddy Weave” worshiped with him. “The Skit Guys” dramatized the Good News before him. The minister of students and singles piqued his curiosity and answered his questions. His unnamed friend prayed for him and journaled his name before God.

The Apostle Paul in the Bible refers to this process of seed-sowing when he states, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” I have a dream that every person in North America will hear about Christ through the life and verbal witness of a Southern Baptist.

Here are a few practical hints. Seed-sowing must be:

— Positive. Present Jesus in the most positive light possible. Don’t use Jesus to win an argument or to put down another person.

— Consistent. Pray every day that God would help you to touch many with the Good News of Jesus. Purpose every day to do something eternal.

— Numerous. The law of large numbers applies here. The more you share with people, the more people will respond. Psalm 126 is true, “Sow in tears … reap in joy.”

— Intentional. Witnessing, even the seed-sowing type, usually does not happen by accident. It must be an intentional and conscious commitment.

— Creative. Be creative (but not strange) in looking for ways to light your world with Jesus-touches.

— Service-Oriented. Help people. Love people. Serve people. Read “Conspiracy of Kindness” by Steve Sjogren for ideas.

— Christ-Centered. Point past yourself to Jesus. We must become less. He must become more (John 3:30).

— Sacrificial. Witnessing takes effort. The Bible says to do the “work” of the evangelist (II Timothy 4:5). Determine to go at least one step beyond your comfort level each day to share Christ.

— Natural. Learn to be yourself as you serve and sow in Jesus’ name. One of my friends becomes another person when he begins to witness; his voice changes, he uses a weird “churchy” vocabulary and tone. I’m a Christian and it weirds me out; no telling what it does to unreached people!

— Filled with prayer. Seed-sowing is a spiritual voyage. Prayer is necessary as you set sail with a sense of adventure and abandon. Perhaps we could pray a version of the prayer Justin’s friend prayed, “Lord, please do something special in my life today, and accomplish something magnificent for others through me.”
Toby Frost is the director of strategic evangelism coordination at the North American Mission Board.

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  • Toby Frost