Recently, I had the opportunity to speak on the west coast at the Organic Outreach Conference on the subject of evangelism.
In one of my sessions, I asked my wife, Claudia, to share her personal story of meeting Jesus. The following is a quick overview of her testimony.
In 1970, Claudia and I met our senior year of high school in an English composition class. Claudia was a leader at our high school, including captain of the varsity cheerleaders. Her dad was the doctor for our varsity football team. One day in English class I asked about her views on God. She explained that their family went to the United Methodist Church every Christmas and Easter.
However, she explained there was not much religion in their home and often noticed marriage turmoil between her mom and dad. Claudia shared how most of her Sundays included water skiing or visits to see friends and relatives. Everything changed one evening when her dad took the family out to dinner and at the end of the meal her mom announced to her dad in front of the whole family, he would be receiving divorce papers the next day. It was a shock! Back to our English class at North High School in Evansville, Indiana, she had lost all hope, and her life was crushed.
I told her that Jesus could give her hope and radically transform her life. I opened my little New Testament and shared several verses of how much Jesus loved her and had forgiven her and wanted to be invited into her life. I led in a simple prayer and asked her to repeat the prayer as though it was hers. At the conclusion, I asked her if she had, in fact, invited Christ into her life and trusted him. Her answer was "yes!" Her life dramatically changed after that day.
As I look back on that high school experience of simple evangelism, I had a method or strategy of sharing my faith that I use to this day. Anyone can use some form of this evangelism strategy:
Right now, who in your circle of friends is far from God? Back to my high school days, I developed a little Top 10 list of fellow students who needed God. I shared these names with my family and we would pray for them in our family devotions each night. This step is not easy, but work at it.
Bad things happen
I have learned to be ready to listen and step up when something bad happens to one of my friends. When Claudia's parents were going through the divorce, she turned to me for support. Many of the people saved at Daybreak Church (over 400 decisions for Christ last year) met Christ out of a crisis of need. Listen and respond.
Bring out the VIP
It is a known fact that Daybreak was built for the non-churched. We are proud of that reputation. Our guests are royalty. We roll out the red-carpet treatment every Sunday. We have a special VIP Lounge just for our guests. It is intentionally set up for first, second, and third-time visitors with free gifts, etc. It is a known fact that if you can get a new person to attend 3-4 Sundays they will make your church their church.
To make an entrance onto the interstate, you need an on-ramp. Many non-churchgoers need time to process their spiritual decisions. It took Claudia several encounters before she actually made a decision to follow Christ. We have found it takes 6-9 months of attending Daybreak for the average non-church goer to make a decision to follow Christ. As a pastor I give plenty of opportunities (invitationals, altar calls, etc.) and on-ramps for individuals to make a decision about Christ.
Borrow a plan
During my junior year in high school I went through an evangelism course on how to share my faith. It was simple. It was called the Roman Road. It was salvation verses out of Romans. I have used it hundreds of times. I teach it to my church. It's important that you equip your people with a plan to share the gospel. No plan, no results!
Bring them with you
Once Claudia committed her life to Christ as a high schooler, I invited her to attend church every Sunday with me, carry her Bible to school, read 10 verses every day, and tell her story to one new person each day. She did not know any better but to do these things. Call it discipleship, or whatever, but it's important that you take the lead and demonstrate how to follow Jesus.
That's been 47 years ago. Claudia followed me to college at Indiana Wesleyan University. We got married a year later. We started Daybreak Church 28 years ago. Today, I serve as lead pastor and she serves as executive pastor, leading a staff of over 30 and hundreds of volunteers.
Rev. Wes Dupin serves as senior pastor of Daybreak Community Church in Hudsonville, Michigan.