Most of our students are probably not getting enough exercise. P.E. will help. But I'm not talking Phys Ed. I'm talking "spiritual ed."--and training students in one of the most vital disciplines of their Christian life--sharing Christ with others.
The P.E. class I'm suggesting is one on "Personal Evangelism." The reason many Christian students are apprehensive about sharing their faith is not unbelief, fear of rejection or shame. Quite simply, they are not sure what to say or how to respond when opportunity to "bear witness" arises. As teachers, we can equip students with tools that inspire confidence in handling, even pursuing such opportunities. Obviously students don't need to master a course of study in order to share the simple Gospel, and yet this subject merits much more attention than we often give it in or out of the classroom. I recommend taking students periodically through a P.E. class or elective which more thoroughly equips them to communicate the Good News in a variety of situations--from casual time with friends, to outreach events, to church altars.
Here is the general outline of a seven-week emphasis on personal evangelism:
Help students better understand what has taken place in their own salvation. They may not question it, but neither do they know how to explain it to others. From Scripture, consider the reasons behind God's plan. Also teach them to build a strong prayer basis for their witness--depending on God to provide opportunities and the Holy Spirit to empower for action. Their heart for the lost should be a reflection of God's. (Matt 4:19; Matt 28:19, 20; Luke 19:10; Rom.10:13-15 ; I Pet. 3:15)
Advise students on crucial "dos" and "don'ts" for witnessing encounters. For example: DO listen to a person's interests and concerns, earning the right to share with them; Do NOT assume you can relate to or understand all of another person's emotions and life experiences. Do NOT to communicate in "spiritual jargon," misunderstood outside of the church realm. Explain concepts such as "sin" or "saved" in plain terms like "going your own way", and "set free from the consequences of defying God."
Have students begin preparing a concise testimony, reflecting their own experience with Christ in a "non-preachy" manner. Within two or three minutes they should be able to convey honest elements of their situation before Christ; specifically how they came to trust Jesus as the answer; and how their life has changed since Christ took control. If they accepted Christ at a very early age, their main focus can be to recap their life with Christ and the difference living for Him makes.
Review elements of personal testimony and have a few students share theirs very briefly and informally. Then give great attention to helping them learn a smooth and concise presentation of the Gospel. You may outline your own or use a guide such as a tract. Although the presentation might not be as "orderly" in real life, the knowledge will give added confidence. I recommend an approach that highlights God's love, purpose and desire for relationship before it emphasizes the problem of sin. It should lend clear yet concise explanation to sin, separation and human inadequacy; and include follow-up elements on the assurance of salvation and Christian life disciplines.
Review the Gospel presentation, giving students time to "practice" it with partners. This may seem awkward, but the tension likely reflects real life encounters. When students are comfortable with the basic presentation, plug relevant illustrations into the delivery (i.e. God's justice in handling sin; mans inability to bridge the gap with good works; receiving a "no&endash;strings attached" gift from a friend; walking out of an open prison door.) Before they leave, give students key scripture passages, printed in full on a single sheet, to review and begin to memorize. General knowledge of these passages will alleviate anxiety over inability to substantiate claims with Scripture. (References may include: Rom.3:23; 6:23; John 3:16; 10:10; Rom.5:8; I Peter 3:18; John 14:6; Eph.2:8,9; I John 1:9,10; II Cor.5:17; I John 5:11)
Review the salvation verses and give students tips on memorization, allowing time to practice these together. Then help them learn to initiate conversations, establish "common ground" and make transitions that will allow them to talk about Jesus and their faith in everyday situations. Field ideas on how to turn the tide of typical conversations with statements and questions that might provoke spiritual thought and curiosity (i.e. when talking sports: "What are the ultimate prizes to be won?" shopping: "What's the most valuable thing you own?" music/movies: "It's interesting how many phrases and terms from the Bible make it into lyrics and dialogue.")
Consider how to pray with others as they put their hope in Christ, confessing their sin, trusting Him and surrendering their life to His purpose and direction. Practice praying for and with someone. Then review the Gospel presentation and illustrations; let them rehearse putting it all together. Conclude this session by listing tough questions and "objections" you and your students have gotten from others about God. Study these during the week and come to the final session prepared to discuss "answers" that will help students better explain and defend their faith.
Follow-up on last weeks questions, preparing students to respond to challenges that may surface during a witnessing encounter such as: "How can a loving God allow evil to exist?", "Aren't a lot of Christians hypocrites?" and "Don't all religions teach the same things--how can Jesus be the only way?"
You can prepare your students to address these challenges so that when opportunities arise, uncertainty will not prevent students from seizing those everyday opportunities to share faith in Christ with others.
Written by Carey Huffman
Copyright Gospel Publishing House. All rights reserved. Used with permission.