Last week I was in a meeting with some other area pastors. One of the things we discussed was having a concentrated time of evangelism training with our respective congregations. This got me excited because I think too often Christians assume too much in regards to sharing the gospel. They assume the pastor will do it or the really extroverted Christians will do it. Either that or they don't expect enough. They don't expect opportunities for evangelism will be presented to them. They don't expect they'll be able to share the gospel adequately enough- so why not leave it to the "professionals"??
One of my commitments in coming to Memorial as pastor is to prepare my people for daily lifestyle evangelism. In other words, evangelism shouldn't just be a Tuesday night program for a few dedicated church members. It is something we embrace as part of our lives day in and day out. There are neighbors, co-workers, and family members that need to hear the gospel and we do that by investing our lives them and building the gospel into our conversations. Now evangelism training equips people in articulating the basic truths needed to convey the good news. I've encountered church members who either share too much (chase doctrinal rabbits) or not enough. For example, one's testimony can lead to sharing the gospel but isn't the gospel itself. Sharing the gospel is not sharing an experience it is sharing essential and Scriptural truths needed for understanding repentance and faith. A testimony is helpful in illustrating the gospel.
Evangelism training should come in three forms. First, the pastor should train Christians in evangelism every time he presents the gospel in his Sunday sermons. The gospel should be clear in every sermon. This gives lost people an opportunity to hear the good news and saved people the opportunity to hear how to simply and clearly share the good news. Second, the pastor should set an example. This is a challenge if you're full-time at the church because you'll have to make added effort to being around lost people. Third, focused and concentrated discipleship (i.e. an evangelism training class) is a great way to equip people. At Memorial, we train folks using the Two Ways to Live method (follow the link on the upper right). It is simple yet doctrinal. I also stress the four basic points of evangelism- God, man, Christ, and response. It has been so encouraging to see my folks learn how to share and to unleash them to share the good news. The main thing is that whatever method you prefer, use it!