Early on the morning of June 7,
I was walking my dog and reading Twitter to pass the time. I read this post from Kevin Ezell: “16.7 million … the number of gospel conversations if all 46,000 SBC churches would share with 1 person each day for a year.” For a minute or two, my mind raced with the possibilities of churches like yours and mine accepting this not as a statistic, but as a challenge. Suddenly, I found myself saying out loud, “Count me in!” Later that morning, I stopped by my mission pastor’s office and we began to plan the 365 Challenge.
The idea is simple. The outcome could be supernatural. What would happen in churches all across South Carolina if we averaged one gospel conversation a day for a year? Only God knows the answer to that question, but one thing is sure — we would begin to develop a lot more relationships with people outside the church! If your church is like my church, we desperately need to do more of that.
Let me outline the 365 Challenge in case your church would like to join us:
- The goal is not to get someone to sign up for each day of the week. The goal is to tally up the number of gospel conversations we’ve had that week, and, hopefully, it will be at least seven. It could be that some weeks you will have 15-20 gospel conversations. It would be great to get to 365 before the end of the year!
- We will start the 365 Challenge at the start of the new church year. Each Sunday we will ask our people to report the number of gospel conversations they’ve had that week. We will have a visual in a central hallway where we will track our progress throughout the year.
- We plan to use the 365 Challenge to communicate to our church family that “every day is a gospel conversation day!”
Pastor Steve Stroope once taught me an important lesson about evangelism. He said, “Think in terms of sentences rather than paragraphs.” He was simply making the point that our conversations don’t have to be long in order to be effective. I’ve found that statement to be very helpful as I seek to share Jesus with others. Maybe we would be more active in sharing our faith if we focused more on conversations with the lost, rather than making presentations to them.
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not against gospel presentations. I love it when I get to open a Bible, or draw three circles and explain the Good News to someone! Most often though, those presentations begin with a simple conversation.
In Acts 8, Philip began a gospel conversation with an Ethiopian by asking a simple question: “Do you understand what you are reading?” (v. 30) That conversation led to a gospel presentation: “Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus” (v. 35)
Imagine what could happen if your church would share with one person each day for a year! I hope you will take the 365 Challenge. We would be happy to share our plans and logo with you if your church would like to join us. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Keith Shorter is pastor of Mt. Airy Baptist Church in Easley and president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.