One of the most historic and delightful Southern towns you will ever visit is Charleston, South Carolina. On my first visit to Charleston years ago the heritage, charm, and beauty gripped me. If you want a sense of early America you must visit Charleston.
I visited to speak at a church where one of my students served as pastor. The young pastor earnestly sought to help his small congregation make Jesus famous in their community. On Sunday night I did a little exercise I have done often in churches. I told them the three things people can tell about us when we get to know them, and all three relate to sharing Christ. First, they can tell if we about them. People do not care how much you know about God until they know how much you care about them. A generous tip for a server, a kind word at the bank, the little things we do help or hinder our witness. Second, people can tell if we what we talk about. This is why we must help students grasp what the gospel message is, from Creation to Fall to Rescue to Restoration, in all its life-changing power. Finally, people can tell if the is on our lives. When people see we have conviction about the truth we share, that we care about them, and that something real has happened to us, our witness is multiplied in impact.
Based on this basic trilogy I offered a simple exercise. I had gospel tracts that clearly explained the gospel placed across the front of the church. I challenged the congregation to take a booklet if by so doing they were signifying a willingness to share it with another person in the next seven days.
The majority of people responded to the challenge. They always do, in my experience. More believers want to serve Jesus than we think; they often need encouragement and practical guidance.
That night several students in their small youth group took the challenge. This was before the days of tweeting, posting, or pinning; AOL Instant Messenger and e-mail were all the rage. That week I received updates from enthusiastic students excited to realize that God could use them, as young people, in the work of the gospel.
One high school girl emailed me about her friend whom I will call Mark. Mark had been antagonistic to the gospel, so she wrote me asking for advice. I sent her a long email explaining how to talk to her friend Mark, which she forwarded to her friend. She wrote me late the next night, elated to tell me the news that she had led Mark to Christ via IM earlier that evening!
That week this handful of students led five of their friends to Christ. One of those five died unexpectedly two weeks later. Missional means far more than getting people to take a tract to a friend. But it does not involve less than sharing Christ personally, either. Let’s get the next generation sharing Christ now!
Alvin L. “Doc” Reid serves as Senior Professor of Evangelism and Student Ministry at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he has been since 1995. He is also the founding Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism. Alvin and his wife Michelle have two married children: Joshua and his wife Jacqueline, and Hannah and her husband Corey. Hannah and Corey recently welcomed Doc’s first grandchild, Lincoln James. He also serves as Pastor to Young Professionals at Richland Creek Community Church. Alvin travels extensively speaking and has authored a number of books. His most recent is Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out (B&H Academic).