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Too many women ‘have left evangelism up to the men’

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Jaye Martin was doing door-to-door witnessing one night several years ago, when it hit her: Men and women can be vastly different — even when sharing the Good News.

She and a couple of young men had just helped lead a lady to Christ using Evangelism Explosion, a witnessing tool similar to LifeWay Christian Resource’s FAITH evangelism strategy. However, Martin had junked the outline in favor of a more conversational approach. After all, the lady came to the door crying, and Martin didn’t feel an outline was appropriate.

Walking back to the car, Martin was excited. However, her two teammates weren’t so happy.

“They said, ‘I don’t know what that was, but it was not the outline,’ I said, ‘The outline? What is the outline for? The whole reason you have an outline for is so that you will have an open door to share Christ.'”

Martin, who now directs women’s evangelism for the North American Mission Board, had to show the two men that the points in the outline had been covered — even if they were somewhat out of order.

“That started me on a long, long journey of saying, ‘OK, God. What is different with women than it is with men?'” she said.

Martin, who spoke to women during a special event at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., in April, has designed an evangelism strategy especially for women. Dubbed “HeartCall,” the four-year-old strategy is geared toward getting women involved in evangelism in the local church.

Saying that women “have left evangelism up to the men,” she quoted surveys showing that 80 to 90 percent of church volunteers/workers are women.

“We have got to mobilize our women to get out and reach other women and to share Christ,” she said.

Men and women relate to one another much differently, she pointed out.

“Men tend to think and talk,” she said. “Women tend to share and feel. It’s not that we don’t ever think and talk. It’s not that they don’t ever share and feel. But as we start looking at evangelism, we want women to feel comfortable sharing Christ. One of the things we’ve got to do is look at that … and say, ‘What can we do to help her?'”

The HeartCall strategy has several elements. One is the “HeartCall: The Call to Prayer” devotional book, composed of daily devotionals intended to teach the reader how to pray for the lost. More than 300 leading Southern Baptist women contributed devotionals.

HeartCall’s evangelism strategy is summed up in a booklet titled “HeartTalk,” which lays out the plan of salvation. The strategy focuses on the HeartCall logo — which consists of a cross overlaid on a heart. HeartCall logo lapel pins are also available and can be used as conversation-starters.

HeartCall also has multi-week Bible study courses.

Martin said women can use the HeartCall evangelism strategy in a number of ways. One is through church and house socials where lost people are invited. The plan of salvation, via the HeartTalk strategy, can then be presented.

Relationships, Martin said, are uniquely important to women.

She used her marriage as an example. Her husband, she said, gets together with his male friends in order to play tennis. For them, talking is secondary. Martin, on the other hand, organizes events with female friends simply in order to talk.

“Relationships are important for women,” she said. “… Most of the time, those relationships are so important that they’ll go out of their way to get them.

“A woman wants to meet other people. She wants help with life and she doesn’t know where to get it.”

Martin said that women have many needs. She said they: 1) wear too many hats; 2) have a lack of self esteem; 3) are stressed out; and 4) have too few relationships.

“When we start talking about women’s ministry and reaching women, if you will do your ministry geared to (relieving) these four things, you will be successful,” she said.

But Martin noted that the HeartCall strategy goes beyond simply sharing Christ in a social setting. It involves getting women to understand that they can share Christ with their neighbors.

“(Some women) don’t understand that God has strategically placed them where he’s placed them, in the time frame that he’s placed them (and) in the season of life that he has them in order to be able to share Christ with someone that’s right there beside them,” she said.

Evangelism should be an essential part of the Christian life, she said, adding that a Christian should spend time doing two things: knowing God and sharing God.

“If you don’t capture evangelism and capture the love of the Lord and the job of sharing him, you’re missing out on half the Christian life,” she said.
While Martin believes HeartTalk is a great strategy, she urges women to share the gospel — no matter what tool they use.

“I don’t care what you use,” she said. “I don’t care if you ever use this stuff again. The only reason we have it is to help you get out there and do something. Our plan is to help women to be motivated to make a difference and to be motivated to share Christ.”

Information about HeartCall is available on the North American Mission Board’s web page at: www.namb.net/evangelism/mev/Family/women.asp
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: MARTIN SHARES.

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  • Michael Foust