From Leon Brown at Press On Until Glory
Every year, Christians are trained around the nation in order to learn how to share the gospel. You are familiar with the programs because they are many. Some programs are professed to be better than others. Are they really? The final determination is up to you!
But throughout these training sessions, I've noticed something is missing. Or to be more specific, I should say, the first step is missing.
It's extremely easy to gather 100 people into a room and tell them a certain formula to share the gospel. I've done it, and you've probably done it. Initially, it seems to help people. They are thankful that they are learning to share the gospel, and rightfully so. But once the training session is complete and they're on their own, sometimes the enthusiasm to share the gospel tappers off.
I believe it's because something is missing.
You know, just the other day I watched my interview with Dr. J.I. Packer. At one point, I asked him about evangelism. He told me that his African friends would think we are quite strange for talking about evangelism because they do it so frequently and so naturally. As I began to think about this, I wondered, "Why do they do it so frequently and so naturally?"
Many answers came to mind and this is one of them: Joy!
These African brothers have joy in the Lord. And as this joy builds inside of them, they cannot help but share the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's kind of like a pot that boils over because it has too much water in it. Initially, the waters are calm, but as the pot heats up, the water come out the top.
The same thing can be said about sharing the gospel. Once the pot gets burning (the pot is you), the gospel will come out. It may not come out perfectly or even the way you'd want it to, but it comes out. (Remember, God works in spite of us often, so don't be discouraged if the gospel does not come out exactly 'like you planned.')
Moreover, sharing the gospel becomes natural. There are too many instances when non-believers will make this comment once they've heard the gospel or watched a video on YouTube: "Oh, I've heard that before."
Question: "Heard what before?"
They are not talking about the gospel insomuch as they are talking about the "formula" that was used to share the gospel. You're familiar with them. There is no need to name names. There are a bunch of them out there.
So, back to my original question. What's missing?
Instead of teaching someone how to share the gospel as a first step, as best as it is possible (and this is hard with a large group), let' see if they have joy in the Lord. I think it's too much to assume that they have joy just because they're there. Many people simply want an easy way out, and this includes Christians. People want a 1-2-3 step program. Whereas, evangelism, as I've had to learn, is so much more than that.
So, as we continue to train individuals in the body of Christ, as far as we are able, let the first step, or one of the first steps, be in talking to the trainee about joy...because if they have joy, chances are they've already been sharing the gospel, but they're coming to you to be refined, not initiated. Then, once the trainee leaves, he or she will continue to share the gospel (naturally, I might add) regardless of whether he/she thinks their local assembly is sharing Christ. Why?
Because they have joy! And joy about a particular subject is hard to keep to yourself! Thank God there is joy in Christ!