By David Evans
Evangelism Team Leader, Tennessee Baptist Mission Board
Editors note: This is the fourth installment of David Evans’ Evangelistic Inches series. The previous three columns can be found at baptistandreflector.org and on the The Reaching App.
Today, we will look at the third Evangelistic Inch, which is “the opportunity.”
We are not at a loss for gospel education, teachers, tools, etc. Seminaries have not seen attendance this high in years. Gospel-centered music, preaching and teaching are attainable on every device. The Bible is accessible in many languages and many translations. We live in a very gospel-saturated culture and yet baptisms and church attendance are decreasing. The “jump” from zero activity to gospel presentation is difficult and most often paralyzes a church. The gospel Trifecta provides an easy process for the non-ambassador of Christ to become a healthy ambassador for Christ by practicing evangelism. The three opportunities, the gospel Trifecta, operate intimately together: appointments, conversations and engagements.
First, a “gospel appointment” is an appointed time to share the gospel, which has been made popular by Paul Worcester and the Baptist Collegiate Network of Committees. A gospel appointment is a “planned time to get to know someone and share the gospel personally” (www.gospelappointment.com). An appointment is a time that you set with a friend to practice sharing the gospel. You can either tell your friend this is what you are doing or you can spend this time building the relationship to allow the gospel sharing to happen more organically. I like the concept of inviting someone to coffee/lunch and letting them know that you need to practice sharing the gospel. You ask them on the front end if that would be okay. If they agree then the gospel appointment is set. The appointment will do two things for you: (1) reduce anxiety as you sit in a conversation mulling over a great way to transition to the gospel, and (2) adding a flare of accountability as they expect you to share the gospel. College students report that when they get together and time goes by without sharing the gospel, the person across from them may remind them that they are there for them to practice sharing the gospel. They gain accountability from the one that they are attempting to share the gospel.
Second, a “gospel engagement” is an action to care and build relationships so that a gospel presentation can occur naturally. The phrase was coined by Dr. Jeff Mims, pastor of Judson Baptist Church in Nashville. Mims stated that a “gospel engagement is anytime we do anything to engage someone with the gospel: Giving a tract, sharing our story, inviting someone to church, taking a neighbor a meal during a time of grief. It doesn’t have to be a gospel conversation, per se, but it can lead to that.” A gospel engagement is a relationship-building moment that the believer conducts to know the person, care for the person and eventually share the gospel with the person. A purposed engagement can prepare the community around the church for the presentation of the gospel, especially if the church is swimming against a negative stigma.
Third, a “gospel conversation” is a dialogue for the purpose of presenting the gospel. Simply a conversation with the intended focus to share the gospel. I am proud to be part of a denomination that is focusing on gospel conversations (https://gcchallenge.com). Many resources are available to help the follower of Christ through the conversation (i.e. tracts, outlines, memory charts, apps). Many resources can be found in The Reaching App, which is free to download for your mobile phone, tablet or streaming TV device.
The following are “Evangelistic Inches” to help someone move from zero activity to gospel presentation and beyond: 1. the desire; 2. the tool; 3. the opportunity; 4. the disciple. B&R