SPRINGFIELD – “What freaks you out the most?” asked Alvin Reid at the MBC Great Commission conference. Reid, professor of evangelism at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He then proceeded to show the audience a series of photos of snakes he has kept as pets, including some poisonous ones.
“Some people think sharing Jesus with someone would freak them out” he said. But “Witnessing is an honor” he refuted. Reid continued to share insights from his forthcoming book “Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out” (B&H).
Preaching from I Peter 2:12, his central thought was that people need to share Jesus.
He suggested that God gives believers many opportunities to advance His gospel. “Study and read the Word to discover Jesus and communicate him to others,” he advised. He proposed believers have “evangelistic conversations” instead of trying to “share gospel presentations.”
Conference attendees responded positively to some of the challenges he proposed. He suggested some people who are shy may not always feel comfortable taking the lead in an evangelistic conversation but they can listen to lost people tell their story. “If you are an introvert, become a good listener,” said Reid.
Greg Ballowe, pastor, Friendship Baptist, Holden, said, “Listening is a quality we are lacking. We … need to listen.” He said social media conversations are an easy escape for people to avoid face to face time. Ballowe agreed he is outgoing, but many people are not, and Reid had good advice for them.
“I have been trying to get away from (the situation where) the pastor does all the witnessing,” said Robin Salsman, pastor of First Baptist Church, Crocker. “I am training our people in how to share their faith. I’m interested to see how I can show them that this is their responsibility,” he said.
Ballowe said he was pleased to see Reid emphasizing the laity of the church coming alongside the pastors. “My church feels like we are equals – one in the body of Christ. The majority feel the need to share Christ.” He said they try to provide many entry points for evangelistic activity at Friendship Baptist.
Daniel Gibson, age 24, ministers at First Baptist Church, Willard, as youth pastor and said Reid’s statements encouraging the attendees to engage in evangelistic conversations and to especially learn how to communicate the gospel clearly to a 25 year old are important.
“Kids have a new confrontation in their lives with all the media they are exposed to” Gibson said. “When I was a kid, most of the media we were exposed to was a TV – a box in our house.”
But Gibson said with the explosion of portable media devices, “Now their media is in their pocket. People are living out their lives on social media.”
He said kids are identifying with public figures who communicate via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other media channels. “A billion people a day visit YouTube.”
Gibson has a media channel where he broadcasts video podcasts on YouTube with the hope of entertaining and focusing on ministry messages. His video blog address is www.youtube.com/multiplymedia.
“Our kids need it simple” Gibson said. “I am honing in on a core focus, a straight arrow where you start with Jesus and end with Jesus.”
Salsman, who is age 65 said, “I can talk to twenty somethings, but I don’t always understand their world.” He said at FBC Crocker there are couples that age and they are bringing their friends to church. “I want FBC Crocker to be a place where lost people can come to meet Jesus.”
Reid emphasized having spiritual conversations instead of trying to confront people with a spiritual presentation of some sort.
“Use stories, ask questions, affirm, encourage, approach with a good heart and go deeper,” he advised.