As a new Christ-follower, I remember the first time I tried to go out on campus and share the gospel. I matched up with a few other, similarly-convicted individuals, and we set out one night after our Christian group met. We headed down to the courtyard, outside the dorms at the University of Tennessee. The problem was that nobody ever showed me what to do or modeled this effort to me. The result was that I sat with a group of strangers and listened to them talk for an hour without really contributing to the conversation at all. I left that first encounter feeling deflated. I continued in these efforts for some time, but, the truth is—I never felt satisfied or particularly successful.
Lessons Learned from Sharing the Gospel
Now that I have come full circle and lead a collegiate ministry, I am confident that I have, in fact, stumbled upon what was lacking in my youthful attempts. I have discovered the utmost means of success and a guaranteed ministry builder. It has a greater success rate at helping people learn to share their faith than just to teach the Romans Road, the Bridge, 3 Circles, Solarium, or even Share Jesus With Out Fear and turning them loose. Listen up, as the steps necessary are unique and must be followed to the letter to have the kind of success we’re all looking for.
A Simple and Effective Way of Sharing the Gospel
The best means of evangelism in your ministry context is—any type of evangelism that you are modeling for your disciples/students. Hold up. It can’t be that simple, right? I genuinely believe it is. If you are having a hard time motivating your young adults to get out the door and share the gospel with their friends, find some type of evangelism that you can model, then take them by the hand, and show them how to do it.
This incredibly simple strategy was first shown to us by Jesus Himself. He constantly modeled outreach and love to His disciples. They knew how to answer questions, help the needy, and speak to the masses—all because they had seen Christ do so. In fact, it was precisely what He first called them for (see Matthew 4:19). Paul also demonstrated this hands-on learning style (see Philippians 4:9) when he commanded his learners to follow what they had heard and seen in him.
Model and Repeat
So, when you take your young adults out and show them how to share the gospel, be prepared to show them multiple times. Jesus spent a chunk of time modeling for His disciples before they were ever expected to perform independently. Then, watch them do it once as you stand there beside them. Offer a critique and some more encouragement. Then, as they go out to attempt on their own, have them report back to share in their successes and then offer to help with their difficulties. This is again trying to model exactly as Christ had done with His followers in Mark 6:30 and Luke 9:10. Then, start the process over again by finding someone else to take by the hand and lead out—all the while, empowering your first pupil to do the same.
We accomplish this at Nicholls State University by taking young adults out on campus to engage students in conversations, in which we employ things like the 3 Circles or Questioning Evangelism to deepen conversations. Every semester, I am blown away seeing students share their faith for the first time and then grow so confident in it that they do it when I am not with them as well. Praise God!
It is unbelievable that we expect our students to do something that they have not seen anyone else do around them. It is also impossible to truly make biblical disciples without a concrete plan on how you will assist them to become fishers of men. The best means for us to develop an evangelistic culture at our places of ministry is not to teach the newest, shiniest method. Instead, the best means is to model (and lead by example) how to get out on campus—or in our neighborhoods—and share our faith.
Conan Sherlin is the Baptist Collegiate Ministry Director at Nicholls State University in South Louisiana. He lives in Thibodaux, Louisiana with his wife Christy and their four kids (Evie, Ada, Haddie, and Gilford). Connect with Conan via Twitter: @nsherlin10.