Evangelism Immersion Experiences

immersionexperiences

Two weeks after I received Christ I was invited by my new Christians friends to attend a Saturday seminar on evangelism.  To be honest, at that time, I didn’t even know what evangelism was or even meant.  I was just excited to be with my new friends.  By the end of the day I discovered that evangelism was just sharing what Jesus has done for me with the people who come into my life.

At the end of that training the leaders gave us an opportunity to practice what we had just learned.  My friends asked me if I wanted to go with them to a local college campus and live out the principles we all discovered that day.  I did not knowing what I was getting myself into…that next Saturday I was engaging spiritual conversations with college students!  The leader and myself would walk up to a group of college students, he would initiate the conversation and at some point he would say, “Gary, tell them what Jesus has done for you.”

Three weeks after trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior I was completely immersed in evangelism.  It was life changing.  Every time I shared my faith that day the gospel was deepened into my life and I gained confidence in what I was communicating.  This is why my life verse is, “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”  (Philemon 1:6)

When we deny our church members opportunities to get outside the church walls and touch the world with the love of the gospel we deny them faith stretching moments, the ability to see God at work and the blessing of understanding the richness of the gospel in deep ways.  (Philemon 1:6)

Jesus Created Missional Immersion Experiences

Jesus used immersion experiences to train his disciples; first, the Apostles (Luke 9:1-6,10-11) and then the Seventy (Luke 10:1-24).

  • Jesus did a quick orientation
  • Jesus sent them out on a specific mission
  • The disciples reported back what happened
  • Jesus debriefed and celebrated them

Five Key Ingredients for Creating Missional Immersion Experiences

  1. Leadership: Leaders who live, breathe and exemplify the behaviors they want to be lived out in their people.
  2. Orientation: A short motivational instruction that reviews the why’s and how’s of the outreach activity you are doing.  This is a time to go over the do’s and don’ts as you send the team out.
  3. Multi-Sensory: This experience must touch a person’s heart (move people deeply), their soul (force a deeper sense of faith), their mind (stretch then intellectually) and their strength (involves physical activity).
  4. Reproducible: This must be a behavior that a person could do without the leader or the team.  It must involve something that they can take with them for the rest of their lives.
  5. Celebration:  A time for the group to report, debrief, and celebrate with the leader.

Take Aways

Check out Additional Spiritual Conversation Resources

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Equipping Your Whole Church in the Art of Spiritual Conversations

crowdsinchurch

“Evangelism was the prerogative and duty of every church member … The ordinary people of the first century church saw it as their job: Christianity was supremely a lay movement, spread by informal missionaries.” – Michael Green

We will not advance the gospel through the church without the serious training for every member in how to share the gospel winsomely and accurately.  The Apostle Peter makes in very clear that every follower of Jesus must be prepared to articulate the hope they have experienced in Christ.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”  I Peter 3:15

Here is a challenge for every church to embrace: Seek to train 1/3 of your church in evangelism this year.

In Win Arn’s ‘Church Growth Ratio Book‘, he states, “One of every three adults should receive evangelism training at least once a year.”

Why?

One of the gifts needed to build up the church is the gift of the evangelist (Ephesians 4:11-12). In many churches the emphasis is on nurturing existing Christians and strengthening the faith of current members is a preoccupation.  While this is important it is incomplete if your spiritual formation plan has no evangelism component. If this training lacks little focus on reproduction it will lead to an inward mentality that will puff up the church instead of building up the church.  Churches that continually make it a goal to train a significant portion of the congregation in evangelism tend to be more outreach focused.  If you have a church of 150 that means 50 people need to be trained in outreach.  If you have a church of 1000 that means 333 people need to be trained.   As your church grows bigger I believe that achieving this ratio gets harder and needs for more focused attention by leaders.

How?

1. Develop a training rhythm that touches people weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually.

  • Weekly: by creating an investing, inviting and including culture.
  • Monthly: by providing entry level immersion experiences (see the next post).
  • Quarterly: by offering full day equipping opportunities.
  • Annually: by offering Sunday morning/small group spiritual emphasis campaigns.

2. Start training trainers.

I have discovered that the faster I can get the training out of the professionals hands the quicker the lay leaders own the process.

  • Which lay leaders can reinforce your investing, inviting and including culture?
  • Which lay leaders can lead and promote your entry level experiences?
  • Which lay leaders can be mentored in training others in sharing their faith?
  • How many leaders can you engage in an annual spiritual emphasis campaign?

3.  Focus on one tool that will mark your church.

When you think of Campus Crusade (CRU) what evangelism tool comes to mind?  Four Spiritual Laws! When you think of Navigators? The Bridge!  The Billy Graham Association? Steps to Peace with God! What do people think of when it comes to your church?  Anything?  Find a tool and work the tool.  If you can’t find anything that fits your culture then create one.  That’s what we did 25 years ago with the Spiritual Journey Guide…it shaped our church and is now shaping thousands of other churches.

Action Steps

  • Keep track…how many people are you training a year?
  • Identify the evangelism in your congregation.
  • Find trainers…who can help you?
  • Find a tool…what works for you and your church culture?

Additional Spiritual Conversation Resources

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Increasing the Spiritual Conversations of Your Board Members

 boardroom

“Helping to fulfill the Great Commission is the single most important task of the Church. Therefore, developing evangelistic leadership to carry out that mission should be a top priority.” – Bill Bright

Are your board meetings filled with a burning passion to see every man, women and child reached with the gospel in your community?

Three ways to call your leaders to engage in more spiritual conversations:

First, reinforce the vision of your church.  Calling your leaders to the mission of Jesus should be what permeates your every leadership meeting in the church; business meetings, elders meetings, deacon meetings. finance meetings, youth meetings, children’s ministry meetings, worship practices, etc.  Everyone leading those meetings should lead them in a way that reinforces the vision to reach the community with the gospel of Jesus, not just to maintain their ministry area.

Second, create a sense of urgency.  If your leaders have no sense of urgency they will never seize the evangelistic opportunities that God gives them.

How does one create an ongoing sense of urgency among their leaders?

John Kotter in his book, A Sense of Urgency, describes five ways we can create a sense of true urgency every day:

  • Purge and Delegate – Don’t let an overcrowded calendar slow you down; purge low-priority items, don’t get distracted, and learn to delegate.
  • Move with Speed – Respond quickly to people’s calls, requests and emails. Never end meetings without clarity about who will do what and when.
  • Speak with Passion – Talk to others with feeling so others catch the urgency and passion of your message.
  • Match Words and Deeds – Don’t just talk about something and then not do it yourself; be real and be an example to others.
  • Let Them All See It – Be visible as often as possible to as many people as possible. Let them see your sense of urgency.

Third, make sure every leader can share the gospel in a compelling manner.

Assumptions kill evangelism!  Thinking a person that is in leadership knows how to share the gospel effectively is a big mistake.  Continual training and retraining of leaders is imperative.

Four Take-Aways:

  • Equip your leaders in how to reinforce the vision of mission through every level of the church.
  • Model the urgent reality of the harvest (John 4:35) in all you do.
  • At every leadership meeting ask the following question: Who can we pray for in your life that needs Jesus?
  • Schedule an evangelistic training opportunity just for your leaders & staff.

Additional Spiritual Conversation Resources

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Increasing the Spiritual Conversations of Your Pastoral Staff

twoguysbibleI am amazed at how many pastoral staff members in local churches are woefully inactive at personally sharing their faith or even explaining the gospel.

How does one help their staff or volunteers to increase the number of spiritual conversations they get into in a normal week of ministry?

The place for a leader to start is prayer.  Pray specifically for your team members to be active in sharing their faith.  Paul prayed for Philemon when he wrote, “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ” (Philemon 1:6).

The second place would be to raise the faith level of your team by raising the expectations. One of the aspects of being a great team leader it to raise the expectations of the team.  If you are as a leader are serious in increasing the spiritual conversations throughout your ministry then you are going to have to raise the expectations of your team.

What would happen if each of your team members engaged in at least two spiritual conversations a week? That would be over 100 spiritual conversations a year.

The third place would be to show them the opportunities right around them.  A pastor friend of my was leading a small group and after about six months he walked them through the Spiritual Journey Guide by asking everyone the simple question, “Where are you right now on your spiritual journey?”  To his amazement nearly half the group identified themselves as spiritual seekers and not followers of Jesus.  Assumptions kill evangelism!  Because a person attends church or is connected relationally to a community of faith unfortunately has little to do with that person’s understanding of the gospel.

When coaching pastors in evangelism I encourage them to first look at the fringe people of their church.  They are always amazed at the receptivity of these people who have attended their church in the last year or infrequently for years, to a phone call, personal visit or an invitation to a small group designed for them.  How many receptive people are there on the fringes of your ministry?

Jim Elliot said, “Work where God is working. Don’t hammer at unprepared soil when there is ready ground nearby.”

Three Take-Aways:

  • Start praying for your staff as Paul did you Philemon.
  • At every staff meeting ask the question: Who did you draw into a spiritual conversation this last week?
  • Start identifying and praying for those on the fringe of your ministry.

Additional Spiritual Conversation Resources

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Increasing the Spiritual Conversation in Your Church

TwoGuys

Ed Stetzer once said, “If you want your church to be evangelistic and you yourself are not evangelistic – you are on a fools errand.” 

If you are going to see the spiritual conversations in your church increase this year you must see them increase in your life as a leader.

So the first step is to: Own it as the leader.

Let’s face it, if reaching people far from Jesus is not on the front burner of your life it will not even be on the radar screen of your church.

Every time I get frustration with the lack of meaningful contact with people far from Jesus, I pray this simple prayer,

“Father, I’m sorry for my ineffectiveness and insensitivity to the people you are bringing into my life. Help me today to get into a meaningful spiritual conservation with someone you love and are drawing to yourself. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

Prayer is more about aligning our lives with God’s purposes than with meeting our own personal needs.

Not all of us as pastoral leaders are gifted in evangelism, but all of us are charged “to do the work of an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5).

No matter where your primary calling or giftedness lies, whether it is to be a shepherd, teacher, or a leader of God’s people, I believe Paul’s pastoral charge applies to us all.

If you are a shepherd then use your shepherding gift to guide your people into the work of evangelism.

If you are a teacher then use your teaching gift to inspire your people into the mission of God.

And if you are a leader then use your leadership gifts to lead your church into the great harvest that surrounds your church.

Two take aways:

  • Pray the prayer in this post everyday for the next 30 days. See how God will answer it!
  • Find a coach that will help you guide, inspire or lead your people into the work of evangelism.

Additional Spiritual Conversation Resources

 

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22 Quotes from George Whitefield

GeorgeWhitefield

Over 30 years ago I was given a profound gift of Arnold A. Dallimore’s classic work, George Whitefield, the Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth-Century Revival.  George Whitefield was not a man of great physical stature but he was a powerful servant of God.  He experienced a deep and dramatic spiritual conversion. He was a man who loved the word of God, whose dependence on God was seen through his rigorous exercise of spiritual disciplines. He preached often, sometimes two to three times a day, offering powerful extemporaneous sermons. His belief in God’s sovereignty fuel his passion to share the message of Jesus and drove him to preach anywhere at any time, often drawing larger crowds estimated up to 30,000 people at a time. He labored tirelessly preaching over 18,000 times to an estimated 10 millions hearers on two continents.   He had big heart and started an orphanage in Georgia which he funded personally and carried its debts throughout his life time.  Whitefield’s preaching tours sparked a revival that resulted in the first Great Awakening in America. He was America’s first celebrity. About 80 percent of all American colonists heard him preach at least once.

Quotes

“The true believer can no more live without prayer, than without food day by day.”― George Whitefield

“What! Get to heaven on your own strength? Why, you might as well try to climb to the moon on a rope of sand!” ― George Whitefield

“No, the religion of Jesus is a social religion.” ― George Whitefield

“Be humble, talk little, think and pray much.” ― George Whitefield

“I would rather wear out than rust out.” ― George Whitefield

“Pray that I may be very little in my own eyes, and not rob my dear Master of any part of his glory.” ― George Whitefield

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19 Quotes from J. Hudson Taylor

HudsonTaylor

Over thirty years ago I saw my first Christian movie it was about the life of J. Hudson Taylor.  That movie and his books laid a spiritual foundation in my life on what it means to abide in Christ.  Here is short bio and some of his faith stretching thoughts.  May God inspire you through this man’s humble faith and precious insights in walking with Jesus.

James Hudson Taylor was a British Protestant Christian missionary to China, and founder of the China Inland Mission (CIM) (now OMF International). Taylor spent 51 years in China. The society that he began was responsible for bringing over 800 missionaries to the country who began 125 schools and directly resulted in 18,000 Christian conversions, as well as the establishment of more than 300 stations of work with more than 500 local helpers in all eighteen provinces.

Taylor was known for his sensitivity to Chinese culture and zeal for evangelism. He adopted wearing native Chinese clothing even though this was rare among missionaries of that time. Under his leadership, the CIM was singularly non-denominational in practice and accepted members from all Protestant groups, including individuals from the working class and single women as well as multinational recruits. Primarily because of the CIM’s campaign against the Opium trade, Taylor has been referred to as one of the most significant Europeans to visit China in the 19th Century.

Quotes

“I used to ask God to help me. Then I asked if I might help Him. I ended up by asking Him to do His work through me”― J. Hudson Taylor

“Do not work so hard for Christ that you have no strength to pray, for prayer requires strength.”― J. Hudson Taylor

“Depend on it. God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply. He is too wise a God to frustrate His purposes for lack of funds, and He can just as easily supply them ahead of time as afterwards, and He much prefers doing so.” ― J. Husdon Taylor

“I have found that there are 3 stages in every great work of God: 1. it is impossible, 2. it is difficult, 3. it is done.”― J. Hudson Taylor

“I am so weak that I cannot read my Bible…even pray, I can only lie still in God’s arms like a little child, and trust.”― J. Hudson Taylor

“The branch of the vine does not worry, and toil, and rush here to seek for sunshine, and there to find rain. No; it rests in union and communion with the vine; and at the right time, and in the right way, is the right fruit found on it. Let us so abide in the Lord Jesus.”― J. Hudson Taylor

“All our difficulties are only platforms for the manifestations of His grace, power and love.”― J. Hudson Taylor

“There are three indispensable requirements for a missionary: 1. Patience 2. Patience 3. Patience.”― J. Hudson Taylor

“Our joy in Him may be a fluctuating thing: His joy in us knows no change. “― J. Hudson Taylor

“God isn’t looking for people of great faith, but for individuals ready to follow Him.” ― J. Hudson Taylor

“God uses men who are weak and feeble enough to lean on him.” ― J. Hudson Taylor

“It does not matter how great the pressure is. What really matters is where the pressure lies — whether it comes between you and God, or whether it presses you nearer His heart.” ― J. Hudson Taylor

“Let us never forget that what we are is more important than what we do.” ― J. Hudson Taylor

“It is not so much the greatness of our troubles, as the littleness of our spirit, which makes us complain.” – J. Hudson Taylor

“Whatever is your best time in the day, give that to communion with God.” ― J. Hudson Taylor

“Jesus is our strength, and what we cannot do or bear, He can both do and bear in us.” ― J. Hudson Taylor

“The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.” ― J. Hudson Taylor

“All God’s giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on God being with them.” ― J. Hudson Taylor

“You must go forward on your knees.”  ― J. Hudson Taylor

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