Roger Helland explains what today's Church can learn from the...
Don't outsource evangelism to the 'experts', says Jeremy Marshall
In 1914 Britain was completely unprepared for a major land war.
A tiny British Expeditionary Force (BEF) of six infantry divisions was cobbled together at the last minute and sent to France to try and stop the mighty German steamroller sweeping west. Fortunately, a French army of roughly comparable size to the Germans was able to halt the German advance.
But by the time the decisive victory was achieved in 1918 the British Army had over 6 million men under arms. Britain had finally mobilised its resources and achieved victory, albeit at a huge cost.
We face a similar challenge regarding evangelism in our country to that of Britain in 1914. We are trying to carry out the Great Commission but we are simply not serious. We are only using a tiny fraction of our God given resources. Many Christians feel its wrong or hopeless to share our faith and even those who are trying to carry it out often don’t know how.
Let’s be honest, how much of their time do our full time church workers put into evangelism? Their time tends to be more internally focused. Yes, they may run courses such as Alpha and Christianity Explored. They may also preach evangelistic messages, but how many non Christians actually hear them?
The burden of evangelism instead falls onto our BEF - a tiny handful of overworked evangelists to whom we have effectively outsourced the Great Commission. Yet Jesus’ orders are to all of us, not just the professionals.
18 months ago I discovered a wonderful new tool which has proved incredibly effective in helping me to be equipped to share my faith. I believe it could be a game-changer for us in the battle to save souls. It's called The Word One to One and the concept is very simple.
You begin by simply inviting your friend to have a chat about the Bible. If they agree, you find a convenient location, sit down with a copy of The Word One to One notes, open John's gospel and off you go. I have found it an amazingly powerful tool which has been transformational for many of my friends. I've had 15 friends join me in this process of studying the Bible over the past 18 months.
One friend of mine invited someone to look at John's gospel because he thought it would be comforting after the death of his friend’s wife. The man eagerly accepted, without saying that his daughter, living 4000 miles away, was doing the same thing with another Christian and had just said to her father that she was finding it very comforting!
The use of Word One to One has spread like wildfire throughout the world and it’s been used in countless churches. It mobilises potentially every Christian, but it works most of all because it’s Gods appointed means to reach lost humanity. John himself told us “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (20:31)
The Bible itself is full of one to one Bible work - Philip with the Ethiopian eunuch and the Lord himself on the road to Emmaus.
When our friends read the Bible something supernatural happens - God himself steps off the page. When they read John they read about a series of encounters the Lord has with men and women and how they come to believe that he is the Saviour of the world. By the power of the Holy Spirit the same thing happens.
A friend of mine led someone to faith using the notes and asked him what it was that he had said that impacted him. “To be honest“, came the reply, “I can’t remember a single thing you said, but John had me at ‘In the beginning was the word’. I suddenly thought to myself ‘You are a fool. Dawkins is wrong, there has to be a beginning. John went on to tell me who that Word was and what he had come to do. It was nothing you said, it was the Word.”
It also works because it’s a low threshold for our friends to step over. In a biblically ignorant age, asking our friends to come to church is a high hurdle to climb over. A professional that they don’t know, speaking in a place where they feel very uncomfortable, surrounded by unknown people singing songs they don’t know, at a time that may not suit them, can be a high barrier. But The Word One to One takes a person through the gospel at his or her own pace and builds knowledge of God slowly and surely.
God calls each of us to stand up, be mobilised and share our faith. We are not all Bible teachers but we are called to be Bible sharers.
Jeremy Marshall is a banker, charity trustee, Watford FC fan, blogger and speaker
For more information about The Word One to One visit theword121.com
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