Do we need evangelism training?

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Steve Kneale writes here:

“Evangelism is often over-complicated. It pays to ask, what do we actually need to go about the business of the gospel?”

He argues that all we need to do is to know the Gospel ourselves, to have received the Holy Spirit and to be ready to speak the good news. On one level I am with him. I think we can end up with lots and lots of courses which result in us seeing the responsibility of sharing the good news as a specialist skill only for those who have been trained.  The best advice on evangelism is as he concludes to just get out there and give it a go.

However, I want to push a little on this.  Singing isn’t that complicated really is it? Just open your mouth and allow the notes to form. Similarly, the best thing you can do if you want to play football is to get out on the pitch and kick a ball about.  Even preaching when you come down to it simply requires:

  1. Belief in God’s Word and the Holy Spirit in your life
  2. A Bible
  3. A voice.

Yet in each of these cases, people do get taught, train, are coached.  Why? Well because they want to be better equipped and prepared for the task in hand.  So, similarly I want to suggest that whilst evangelism isn’t that complicated and whilst we don’t need to go on a course, teaching, training and coaching can be helpful in this area. There is an important distinction between saying that something isn’t necessary and saying that it isn’t beneficial.

So evangelism training might help you in the following areas:

  1. To help you think about your context and how to engage with people in it.
  2. To be clear and concise in what you are saying.
  3. To know how to make best use of Scripture, testimony etc.
  4. To help you think through how to respond to questions and objections back (apologetics)
  5. To have practical experience. Observing how others go about sharing their faith and being observed as you do so too.

I think it is clear from Scripture that there is a need for equipping in Gospel service. There is of course the example of the disciples and their three years with Jesus. Then there’s the work that pastor-teachers are to do in equipping the church.

However, the very point that pastor-teachers are there to equip also raises a question. Is the need for equipping and training best met by courses? Or is this training something that in fact happens in the week to week normal life of the church?

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