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Gospel conversations don’t happen by accident, pastor says

“What should matter now is what will matter 1,000 years from now," Pastor David Evans says.

Editor’s note: Sunday (Oct. 3) is Personal Evangelism Commitment Sunday in the Southern Baptist Convention.

SPRINGFIELD, Tenn. (BP) – Many Christians spend time thinking about ways to start Gospel conversations, but pastor David Evans says evangelism starts “way before” the actual in-person conversation.

Evans, senior pastor at Springfield Baptist Church in Springfield, Tenn., said talk around evangelism often deals with what should be said during a conversation but neglects the preparation necessary long before the scenario arises.

“In all reality, evangelism conversations start way before that,” Evans said. “Are you preparing your mind, your psychology, your posture and your perspective so when that time comes it’s less about the particular words I use to open the door and more about ‘Am I willing and intentional in that moment.’”

Evans described an opportunity of intentional evangelism he had while in line at a supermarket with his children.

He simply began by asking the woman in front of him about the meaning of a tattoo on her arm.

The woman seemed to be in a bad mood at first and said people often point out her tattoos to shame her. She went on to explain how the tattoo connects to her relationship with one of her relatives.

Evans used this starting point to talk about the hope of the Gospel, and said simply taking opportunities to “meet people where they are” should be one of the first steps of evangelism.

Willingness, intentionality and prayer are all evangelism steps that must take place before the actual conversation, he said, as well as searching for opportunities to connect with lost people.

“If you and I are always hanging out with church folk, and we’re not intentionally trying to hang out with lost people, then we’ll never have the opportunity to have a Gospel conversation,” Evans said. “We have to be intentional in our calendar and with our life so that we can be around lost people.

“Am I praying to meet people far from Jesus?”

Evans said he is grateful for new methods and strategies for Gospel conversations but believes churches need more of an emphasis on prayer and repentance in their teaching on evangelism.

“There is always a concerted effort from the enemy to thwart everything that we do,” Evans said. “There is always an attack spiritually, and the devil is really good at keeping us busy and keeping our mission adrift. Prayer is not the least we can do, it’s the best and most we can do.

“Christians that stop repenting have long ago stopped evangelizing. When I stop repenting for my sins, I have set up my life in such a way that says I don’t have a need for Jesus, and if I forget about my need for Jesus, then I definitely don’t know or understand their need for Jesus.”

Evans writes about evangelism and other biblical topics on his blog, where he encourages churches to develop an evangelistic culture.

He said though he is nowhere near perfect, he tries to share the Gospel as often as he can, especially when he is with either his staff or his family, as in the example at the supermarket.

The woman in the story ended up accepting Christ as her Savior, and Evans hopes the story will serve as an encouraging reminder for churches to prioritize what is truly most important in ministry.

“There’s a lot of things in ministry I get busy doing that do not matter,” Evans said. “What should matter now is what will matter 1,000 years from now. The methods of evangelism might have changed, but the message hasn’t changed. Proclaiming the Word will do a work.”