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Blog 010 Evangelism and Discipleship

“God can use anybody with a willing heart.”
—Scott Morton

It’s pretty easy to share a coffee, share about your day, and maybe even share some struggles. But what about sharing your faith? Do discipleship and evangelism really go together?

We have the honor of hearing some thoughts on evangelism and discipleship from speaker, leader and long-time disciplemaker Scott Morton. He’s the International Funding Coach for The Navigators and author of three books, one of which is on our “Necessary Bookshelf” list, Down-to-Earth Discipling. More about Scott, his blog, leadership, and funding resources can be found at www.scottmorton.net

Many folks think there’s a vast expanse between evangelism and discipleship, at times finding it difficult to connect the two together. As we heard from Scott, we couldn’t help but think of 1 Peter 3:15 and the importance of equipping the folks we’re leading to share their faith… and being ready to share it ourselves!

We asked Scott to briefly share his thoughts on how evangelism and discipleship work together:

Many sincere followers of Christ have given up on sharing their faith because they don’t have the “gift” of evangelism. However, Colossians 4:5-6a is not written to evangelists but to all believers: “Conduct yourself with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech be always with grace seasoned with salt…”

God will cause you to “run into” outsiders who need Christ, and you are an important link in a chain for their spiritual journey to eternal life. Chances are, they will not tune in to a TV show featuring an evangelist, nor go to church next Sunday. You are their “evangelist” today! Maybe you can’t preach like Billy Graham, but you can share what you know about Christ, and you can draw The Bridge diagram on a placemat. You don’t need to say everything perfectly. Make the “most of the opportunity.”

Here is a great example from Scott on being ready to share your faith as he “ran into” an outsider:

I once ended a vacation at a fine restaurant called Burger King. After placing my order, a 20s-something young man with a nose ring and stocking cap placed his order. But he was paying with a roll of pennies. My mind went to work, “This kid is broke and can’t afford a hamburger.” As he was about to pay, I stepped in and said to the Burger King clerk, “Let me buy this young man’s supper.” The young man smiled and said, “Thank you!” looking me directly in the eye. I liked him!

I replied, “I do this in the name of Christ who has made me a different person. I would not have done this years ago.”

Just then a middle-aged woman came up—his mother. He introduced me and told her I was buying them supper. Then they invited me to join them to enjoy our Burger King supper together.

As we got acquainted, it was obvious they had a hard life. No husband or father on the scene, the son worked at the local plastics factory. They both seemed without hope and pessimistic.

In my mind I wondered, “Shall I take a chance with the Gospel?” Apprehensively, I said, “It seems like you have had a tough time of it. What about your spiritual background?” Surprisingly, they eagerly shared their disappointments with family, finances and religion. “But I’m not a bad person,” the mom said.

So, I took another chance. “May I show you a diagram that explains the Bible in five minutes?” They looked at one another, “Sure!”

I turned over the flimsy Burger King placemat and drew The Bridgediagram with Man on the left side and God on the right and a sin chasm in the middle. After I’d shared Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned” the mother blurted out, “I thought this was supposed to be good news! I’m not a bad person.” Her son nudged her and said, “He not talking specifically about you, Mom—we’re all sinners. Relax!”

“Good news is coming,” I said cheerfully.

When we got to Jesus being the bridge over the gulf, they both seemed to understand, but the Mom said again that she was “not a bad person.” And another nudge from her son.

I asked, “How we can cross the gulf of sin to God?” They both said, “Good works—do good stuff!” Okay. “How many good works would you have to do?” I asked. No answer. “It’s like swimming to Japan from the San Pedro pier in California—how far could we get on our own ability?!” We all laughed.

I closed with John 3:16 and drew the Cross of Christ as the Bridge. Then Revelation 3:20 about opening the door to Christ as He stands knocking. I suggested, “Why not today? Why not invite Christ into your life at bedtime tonight?”

The son broke into a huge smile and then the Mom. They grabbed my hands and thanked me for buying them supper and for talking with them. The son said, “I’m Bo and this is Sal.”

As you read this, may I ask you to pray for Bo and Sal in New Jersey? A seed was sown.

What can we learn from this?

  • Opportunities for sowing a Gospel seed pop up when you least expect it—be ready!
  • Generosity is the new evangelism. Spending $7.00 on their supper opened the door.
  • People need a personal relationship with Christ. Bo and Sal had a slight religious background, but they were without hope. They did not understand about Jesus.
  • Being equipped with a simple tool like The Bridge helped me share my faith with confidence, and you can too!

As we ended our conversation with Scott, he closed with this:

As you sense God prompting you to take a chance with the Gospel, breathe a short prayer for His grace to guide you. Then dive in! Assume by faith that God will use you, imperfect as you are! If you assume God can’t use you, then you are saying you are more powerful than God.

It was so encouraging to hear these practical ways to share our faith and equip others to do the same! We hope you are challenged to think about and begin conversations around evangelism within the context of disciplemaking. There are so many resources out there; The Bridge is a classic Navigator one we think is so essential and hope it can be a great tool for your future conversations.

Happy sharing!