Solas’s Gareth Black joined Strandtown Baptist Church in East Belfast for two evenings of equipping and training in evangelism today. About 40-50 people came to each of the two evenings, which were also live-streamed for folks who were not yet able to attend in-person events.
Gareth said, “Over the course of two evenings we really dug into the dynamics of effective evangelism today”.
On the first evening, they examined what Gareth called “the external and internal challenges to evangelism.” The external challenges include where things are going in culture and the challenges that presents to us in evangelism, particularly persuasive evangelism. So we could become ‘activists’, (seeking to control culture, politics etc by lobbying, or protest) or we could ‘retreat’ from culture altogether. A third alternative is to learn to do persuasive evangelism in the context of relationships and gospel conversations.
The internal challenges to evangelism, are addressed in 1 Peter chapter 3, and involve some issues that transcend culture and apply universally. These are challenges we all face in evangelism. These include firstly fear. Then there are discipleship challenges (setting aside Christ as Lord in our hearts, in a meaningful and public way). Next there’s the problem of being ill-prepared – not knowing what people’s questions are, and not being ready to give an answer. Finally, Peter highlights character issues, stressing the importance of doing our evangelism with gentleness and respect – keeping a clear conscience.
The second evening was all about doing evangelism through the medium of engaging with questions. That means not just answering other people’s questions, but also learning to ask questions too.
Gareth highlighted three key reasons to use questions in evangelism.
- Because our culture has changed, people think critically and need more than authority driven arguments to help people establish wha;s true.
- Because it’s biblical and key way in both the Old and New Testaments that people come to faith, was by God allowing them to explore their questions.
- Jesus used questions to reveal peoples motives and assumptions; and asking and answering questions shows that you take people seriously.
Having explored the uses of good questions, Gareth completed his session with some practical tips for using questions faithfully and creatively. He explored, how to ask good questions, and the use of specific questions such as Have You Ever Wondered? and Why do you think that? Then he looked as helpful ways of answering people’s questions about our Christian faith – always remembering that there is a person behind the question. That means asking questions to understand why the person has asked this particular question, and learning to let conversation flow freely without demanding to have the final word.
Associate Pastor at Strandtown, Michael Shaw, noted: “As a church leadership team, we wanted to equip our members to be able to winsomely share the gospel with their friends, family, neighbours, and colleagues who don’t yet know Jesus. The two seminars that Gareth Black delivered were incredibly helpful in achieving that goal. One of the highlights for me was Gareth’s engagement with God’s word (particularly 1 Peter 3), and Scripture remained at the heart of both seminars. The second session on ‘questioning evangelism’ provided plenty of food for thought and, above all, was very practical. And when Gareth dealt with complex cultural issues, he always made the content accessible to our audience. I’m confident that this training from Solas will stand us in good stead when it comes to persuasive conversational evangelism, and I look forward to seeing how the Lord will use it in the life of our church.”
Gareth said, “I really enjoyed my two evenings with Strandtown Baptist. Attendance was good and engagement was high, with really insightful discussion in the q&a with people wanting to apply these things to their particular circumstances. Some people have been emailing me subsequently about how they are working some of this out in their workplaces.”
Strandtown Baptist can be found online here: