In a classic Peanuts comic strip, Charlie Brown finds Rerun standing by himself. When asked what he’s doing, Rerun explains that he’s with Linus, who is across the street knocking on doors to tell people about the Great Pumpkin. Rerun then admits that he’s standing across the street so no one will know he’s with Linus. At that point Charlie Brown asks, “What kind of evangelist are you?” Rerun sheepishly replies, “I’m a semi-evangelist.”
With the estimation that 95 percent of believers never share their Christian faith, we must conclude that our church pews are largely occupied by relatives of Rerun. It’s ironic that four out of 10 unchurched Americans say they are open to a believer telling them of their personal faith in Christ. That equates to 60 million Americans. At the same time, only a small percentage of Christ-followers share their personal faith and what their Savior means to them.
I think often of a church member who turned from a semi to a habitual evangelist. He was a very faithful follower of Christ, committed to his church, actively involved as a deacon, and the epitome of a Godly husband and dad. We served together for several years before I observed him becoming a consistent soul-winner. It began when he volunteered his time to assist the staff with the volumes of benevolent requests we received each week. He came to the church office Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, returning calls to those requesting help and providing the churches means of helping the needy. I remember coming into the office one afternoon and seeing him with his head bowed and praying as he talked on the phone. In just a little while, he knocked on my office door and came in with a wide smile on his face, excitedly telling me he had just led a person to pray to receive Christ over the phone. He was hooked. That was the beginning of many more times he would share Christ over the phone and hear the one on the other end pray to receive Christ. In our monthly meetings, the deacons would report how many times they had shared Christ in the past month, and how many they had seen pray to receive Christ. Hardly a month would go by but what he would report two, three, sometimes five or six, had prayed to receive Christ with him. Though I know he knew the plan of salvation by heart, he would keep his FAITH outline or an open Gospel tract on the desk in front of him, from which he shared Christ. That quiet and shy follower of Christ became a bold and consistent witness.
Would you be willing to share your faith with those you have never met if you knew you could do it from the comfort and safety of your own home? Would you be more bold in sharing your faith if you had a Gospel presentation in front of you that you would follow to tell the person on the other end of the phone about Christ? Then, the telephone encourager process is what you are looking for.
What is a telephone encourager?
A telephone encourager is a volunteer who communicates with and prays with people who contact them through various media sources. In short, they become part of a phone bank which receives calls from people across America who are reaching out for lasting peace and hope. This medium of sharing Christ began with our North American Mission Board (NAMB) less than ten years ago. It has become so effective that the Billy Graham Organization uses it when their phone bank is overloaded with calls. The potential of reaching many more in Missouri through this process will heighten greatly next March and April. NAMB and the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) are partnering in a massive media blitz that will be publicizing findithere.com, as well as 888-JESUS2010, that will direct responders to believers’ phones, who will in turn share the Gospel. This is another key part of the GPS Across Missouri evangelism initiative beginning in January. Responders who pray to receive Christ will be followed up by a covenant church in their area. At the present time, we have only about 50 Covenant Churches in Missouri.
How can I become a telephone encourager?
I thought you would never ask. To become a telephone encourager will require two hours of training. There is no charge for the training. Qualifications? You must be a born-again believer; an active member of an MBC church; at least 18 years old and out of high school; a growing disciple with a basic foundation of Biblical truth; and, a caring Christian who is concerned for the needs of people.
How can I receive training?
Two-hour training will be offered at each of the four Missouri Baptist Evangelism Conferences in 2010: FBC Branson, Jan. 26; Frederick Boulevard Baptist, St. Joseph, Feb. 9; Calvary Baptist Hannibal, Feb. 23; Miner Baptist, Sikeston, March 9. You can sign your church up to be a covenant church at the same time as well.
If those training times do not work for you, your church and/or association, call the evangelism office and we can put you in touch with a trainer who could come to your area. Call us at (800) 736-6227, extension 650 (Gary Taylor), or 651 (Beth Peeper), or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or, email@example.com
Jim Elliot, the martyred messenger of the Gospel to the Auca Indians, once called missionaries “a bunch of nobodies trying to exalt Somebody.” Tired of being a semi-evangelist? Get off the bench and into the game! (Gary Taylor is the Missouri Baptist Convention’s director of evangelism.)