Evangelism is a scary word because so many of us believe we have to have a memorized plan or speech, we must preach to the crowds of people, or we must have a flashy and trendy way of presenting the Gospel message. We have taken the word evangelism and associated it with something difficult to do. In reality, evangelism is a lifestyle. It is simply how we live our lives. The truth is we evangelize daily. We point people towards Christ or away from Christ on a daily basis simply from how we live our lives.
I once heard someone say, “You will never talk to your friends about Jesus until you have talked to Jesus about your friends”. This statement has stuck with me over the years and has helped me remind myself and my students that the best evangelism is friendship evangelism. Our best witnessing efforts will happen with those whom we share real life with on a daily basis. Friendship Evangelism simply means “caring” for people. Someone once said, “The best evangelism takes place in a context of mutual trust and respect. It takes place between friends.”
In the context of student ministry I see students struggle with how to do evangelism. We strive to help shape their everyday choices to simply following Christ’s example. Christ lived and breathed evangelism. He took every day situations and taught truth from them. We want our students to realize that every bus ride, every lunch break, every classroom discussion, every practice or rehearsal are all opportunities to point their friends to Jesus.
We also believe that God calls us to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Because of that calling our student ministry goes on international missions as well as domestic missions. However, over the years I have noticed students willing to fly to other countries to share Christ but struggling to share Christ locally and domestically. Because of this mindset, we are now in our second year of the following strategic plan to help students create a healthy and biblical mindset of missions:
First we offer what we call Outreach Saturday Projects (OSP). These projects rang from yard work to nursing homes, to cleaning local school campuses, and everything in between. We leave our church campus and serve in our local community. Students who desire to go on our domestic or international trips are required to attend a percentage of these OSP’s.
Secondly we offer our Spring Break Mission Trip. This is usually a three to five day trip during their spring break where we go and serve domestically. Right now we are in our second year of partnering with the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes where we go and serve on location with them for our trip. This trip serves two purposes: first it forces students to make a sacrifice. They must sacrifice the beach and hanging out with friends in order to serve those less fortunate. Secondly, it allows me the chance to see them in action on the mission field dealing with changes, team work, etc. Any students who desire to travel internationally with us are required to first attend a spring break trip. They are only required to attend once but many students are already signing up for another trip simply because they understand the biblical purpose for the trip.
Lastly, we offer an international mission trip in the summer. This trip is usually seven to ten days in length and will be in a third world country. We are in a partnership with Guatemala for the next two years and thus we will travel to this country together. This trip is the climax for a student’s mission experience. They will be exposed to things they have never seen, they will see God work in mighty ways, and they will be used by Him in ways they could never imagine. They leave this trip understanding what it means to share Christ with the poor, hungry, and orphans. They will return home with a new outlook on life and because we have a strategic plan to take students from serving locally to serving internationally we have seen students truly understanding the biblical mindset behind the reason we go and serve. This in turn also helps in students living for Jesus and accomplishing the friendship evangelism in their everyday lives.
Jeff Dye is the Minister of Students at Northcliffe Baptist Church. Follow him on Twitter here!