Pastor: Equip Your People to Share Jesus in 2018

As a bivocational pastor (in addition to my main role as a seminary prof) I know something of the demands on the time of pastors. But we would all agree that of all the things we are called to do, equipping our people to share Jesus effectively and consistently should be well up near the top of the list.

May I suggest you equip your people this year with my book Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out? It’s designed to help believers grow in knowing Christ, understanding the gospel, and sharing Jesus in everyday co versatility’s

Here’s a quick overview of how to teach this book and to encourage your flock in sharing Jesus in 2018. The response to this book has been amazing, with scores of testimonies (including many introverts!) of believers becoming more confident in their witness. I pray you will find this a blessing to your ministry.

First, go to www.sharingJesusbook.com and become familiar with the site. There are free resources including eight training videos (1 per week), a promo video, & role-playing videos.

Next, schedule eight weeks for the training. This could be for the whole church on a Sunday or Wednesday night for eight weeks, or through small groups. Churches have done this a variety of ways. Our church did it on Sunday nights. The book is divided into eight short chapters with eight principles. The focus is encouraging in tone, showing the reader how to share Christ in everyday conversations. “Evangelism the way you were born to do it,” as the subtitle says.

The idea is that even as physical fitness takes time, growing in your witness doesn’t happen overnight. But eight weeks can make a big difference!

At the end of the book you will find an eight-week journey. This includes questions for discussion as you do a session per week. Most teach it as follows:

—Set up an eight-week teaching schedule at the best time for your people.

—Show the Promo Video prior to beginning the study.

—Get a copy of the book for every person. NOTE: If you order the book from Lifeway, any order of 20 or more drops the price at checkout to $5.00 each!

—Encourage each person to read the chapter for that week and to come ready to learn.

—Show the video from the website (with me teaching to a live audience, each about 20-25 minutes).

—Facilitate discussion based on the chapter and reading (questions in the back can help). Encourage participants to commit to the 8-Week Challenge.
Encourage testimonies weekly of participants who speak to others about Jesus.

—The last week has specific helps for developing a lifestyle of living out the gospel. Encourage participants to see the training as the starting of a lifestyle not as a box to check.

Participants can also go to www.alvinreid.com or Doc Alvin Reid’s youtube channel for more helpful information.

I’m also very excited to be giving an overview of the book in a variety of churches and at conferences this spring. Whenever I can help kick off or encourage a church I do! I have a limited number of times I can still do that this spring, so email me if interested areid@sebts.edu.

A Good News Story for You and for Children

A few days from now Michelle and I will be in Chicago celebrating Christmas with our daughter Hannah, son-in-law Corey, and our grandson Lincoln. I’m excited for all the obvious reasons, but now I’m excited for yet another one.  There’s nothing I want more for Lincoln than that he understand the beauty and glory of the gospel Story. Next week we are going to be watching a beautiful short film about that Story. Here’s the good news about this good news: you can watch it today!

My friends at Spread Truth, who brought us The Story as a fantastic tool for sharing Christ, have done it again. This time they’ve created the Storymaker, a short film about the gospel Story especially for children. It is beautiful. Watch it for yourself, but if you are involved with children at any level, please check it out. Better, watch it with them.

You can now watch the film HERE. Please help spread the word on your social media platforms, at your church, and with others. Let’s let everyone know this great Story!

Good News for a Change: The Gospel Story and Some Great Resources

If you’ve been in my classes, read books I’ve written of late, or heard me teach at a church or event, you know how much I love talking about the gospel of Jesus Christ from the perspective of the great Story found in all Scripture. I’ve found this to be vital in my witness, particularly to those who don’t really get the gospel or what Christianity really is.

In class I use a couple of tools with students. One is the 3 Circles our own North American Mission Board utilizes. It’s a version of the Story one can write on a napkin–and I’ve led people to Christ with a napkin using it–to explain God’s grand Story. I also use The Story and have taught it often in churches and events.

The Story comes from a ministry called Spread Truth. Some time back they made a beautiful film telling this Story. I want you to see it here in case you’ve not yet seen it. It may be a great thing to show in your services this Christmas season. Here it is:

Tonight, Spread Truth is releasing a new film. I will share more about it tomorrow, but make a note to watch the new film The Storymaker as soon as possible. It goes live at 530 EST tonight HERE. More tomorrow, but in the meantime, watch the video above and enjoy some good news!

Evangelism Thoughts, December 2017

Today I’m off to Ft Worth to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where I earned the MDiv and the PhD many years ago. I’m meeting with a task force appointed by Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines on the subject of evangelism. This conversations makes me think of the shift we need today to learn to talk about Jesus in everyday conversations. The gospel alone is the power of God to save and never changes. But we must constantly be growing in our understanding of how to proclaim this gospel in effective ways in our ever-changing world.

The following is adapted from my Sharing Jesus (Without Freaking Out) book and offers some of my thoughts.

What if you could just talk about Jesus to others simply because you love him and you love them and you want to introduce them to him? What if we spent less time giving people scripted evangelistic presentations and instead simply learned to introduce Jesus into normal conversations we already have?

What if I told you that the gospel you received and the life God gave you are all you need to start having real, effective conversations with people about Jesus?

A big reason we don’t talk to unbelievers about Jesus is because we don’t talk to one another about Jesus as often as we should. What if talking about Jesus were not awkward, but became as normal as talking about other things we enjoy?

Our day of increasing biblical illiteracy calls us to move from giving a rigid gospel presentation to a having gospel conversations. This means we develop a certain amount of “gospel intelligence”[1] or “gospel fluency”[2] so we can introduce the good news in everyday discussions.

Both presentations and gospel conversations have their place. Some people know enough gospel content to be reached through a simple presentation. If someone walks up to you and asks how to be saved, just lay out the gospel for them. I’m not hating on learned presentations, but I’m arguing that increasingly in our world, presentations are less effective and conversations connect better, especially with the younger generation. Some differences:

Presentations                                                            Conversations

Start in our Christian worldview                                Start in the other person’s worldview

Assumes they know the gospel somewhat             Assumes they don’t know the gospel

Focuses on the lost person as a sinner                     Focuses on the imago Dei in the sinner

Effective with people with a church                         Effective regardless of church background

background

Focuses on immediate decision                                 Hopes for a decision but appreciates the process       involved in reaching people today

When I first learned how to share my faith I learned a simple technique to move from a casual encounter to a gospel presentation: ask leading questions that let you jump right into the gospel message. I’m grateful for this as I’ve have seen many come to Christ this way. But for increasing numbers of unbelievers in America, virtually interrupting them to share a gospel presentation does not come as easily as it did 30 years ago. Today, evangelistic conversations matter more than ever.

In a gospel conversation the witness seeks to do more than get an unbeliever’s attention enough to present the gospel to them. It seeks to do more than share the gospel as briefly as possible with people we hardly know; it starts in the worldview of the unbeliever, shows them truth they already affirm, and then moves from that truth to show the gospel, as Paul did in Athens in Acts 17, starting with an unknown god and with creation. Or, as Peter did in Acts 2 with devout Jews, starting with the Old Testament and emphasizing Jesus as Messiah. Different approaches; same gospel. Different audiences; same message.

I live in the Raleigh-Durham area, one of the fastest growing and more progressive cities in America. I spend a lot of time talking with young adults (we call them young pros, or young professionals at church) who are either unchurched or dechurched. The shift from a monological evangelistic presentations to dialogical conversations has been crucial for my witness, and I’m learning this is true for many I meet who minister in the increasingly post-Christian America of today.

Yesterday we had our young pros Christmas dinner. I sat at a table with some new young pros, including two new believers. They have been reached this fall through the gospel in the context of community via conversations about Jesus. Statistics show we are failing badly at seeing young adults come to Christ. I would argue it’s not because the gospel has lost its power or young adults aren’t spiritually interested, but because we are trying to reach them without really getting to know them. This week, have a conversation with a young adult, start where he or she is and learn his/her beliefs, and then show them the beauty of Christ.

[1] This is a term used by my friend Jonathan Dodson, author of The Unbelievable Gospel (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014). [[Note: he talks about this in an interview; will go into the digital version]]

[2] See http://wearesoma.com/resources/watch/gospel-fluency/.