EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth in a series of five columns about the National Evangelism Initiative, called God’s Plan for Sharing (GPS).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)–As the Southern Baptist Convention prepares for a denomination-wide emphasis on evangelism, the North American Mission Board is already developing materials churches can utilize during this 10-year emphasis from 2010 to 2020.
The National Evangelism Initiative is called God’s Plan for Sharing (GPS) and in the months leading up to its launch, there are many steps churches and individuals can take in preparation for fulfilling the goal of sharing Christ with every person in North America by 2020.
First, you can work to increase the number of times people hear a complete Gospel presentation. There has to be a more intentional, aggressive and unapologetic demonstration of ‘telling my story.’ Don’t make your story too short or leave it incomplete. It sometimes seems today we are looking for the easiest, simplest, most non-committal form of sowing/witness training — and look where it has taken us.
A key word during this initiative will be “saturation” sowing. We need to sow the Gospel from house to house and into the highways and hedges. Another key word is “passion.” We have the finest facilities, teachers, materials and some of the best preachers in the world, yet we have lost our passion for lost people. We seem to have everything but passion. Sowing must become a primary effort once again by every believer, every day.
On the individual level, each of us should be praying for and trying to be aware of daily witnessing opportunities. Take the time to define and map out your Jerusalem — your street, your block, your circle of influence. Make a list of lost people you meet in your daily traffic patterns and pray for them by name, expecting God to touch them.
Creatively use and leave witnessing booklets along your way each day. Learn a new language to open more doors of opportunity to share. Use your passions in golf, boating, hunting, biking, fishing and elsewhere to sow the Good News.
As you continue to prepare for sowing, conduct walking or driving surveys of your surrounding area and pray for creative ways for how to sow it down with the Good News. Learn who lives in your community and distribute Scripture in each heart language based on research you have found in your Jerusalem.
Assist in helping believers discover their spiritual gifts for ministry and help them find evangelistic opportunities to use those gifts. Do your part to motivate and train believers so they will be prepared to intentionally reach the people around them for Christ.
As a church, start thinking and praying about community-wide events that will help you share the Gospel. There are multiple opportunities for servant evangelism and ministry-based evangelism. Door-to-door saturation is still a key way to spread the Gospel. Your church can conduct felt-need seminars or start a multi-family housing ministry. You can invite in a group of Intentional Community Evangelism (ICE) volunteers or pray about the possibility of planting a church in your community that will reach people your church cannot. Think and pray about some specific people group activities, find opportunities to reach out for Christ at nearby college campuses.
Be sure to take advantage of the seasons and the calendar to conduct special evangelistic events for all ages. The New Year, Valentine’s Day, Easter, President’s Days, July the 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Labor Day all lend themselves to special evangelistic events and messages.
When lost people are gathered at an activity or event, be sure to give an effective invitation. Never assume there will be another time or opportunity for sowing. Don’t assume all attending the event are saved. Bring every service to an evangelistic conclusion. Be sure to place the Evangelism Response Center phone number on every item distributed — 1 888 JESUS20. This will allow the reader to talk to a live person about their need to accept Christ.
As you focus on people around you, don’t forget to take the big picture view, as well. Network for evangelism within state and local ministries. At every level, Southern Baptist ministries must commit to sowing the Gospel. Every age must be involved in sowing and reaching their generation. Every ministry within the local church must be focused with the commitment to sowing. All leadership must train, teach and exhort sowing the Good News everywhere, every day by everyone!
David Burton is Evangelism Director for the Florida Baptist Convention. For more information on the God’s Plan for Sharing initiative, visit www.nei2020.org.