How to Train Effective Witnesses
Howard H. Ramsey and John Hendrix
If the church is to fulfill the mission Jesus gave to be wit nesses to every person in the world (Mark 16:15), it is imperative that the pastor and staff be convinced that equip ping church members to witness is absolutely essential. Witness training can take mans forms, but it is a proved fact that the more on-the-job training a witness equipping process involves the more effective it is. It is one thing to learn what to do and say when you witness and quite another to actually witness to a person.
Bold Witness Training permeates the Reaching People emphasis and is one of the projects in the Develop Believers area of the 1982-85 Southern Baptist Convention Bold Mission Thrust emphasis.
The Personal Evangelism Department of the Home Mission Board now promotes and services three processes for equipping church members to witness: TELL Witness Training, the Lay Evangelism School, and Continuing Witness Training. Each of these is designed to help church members understand that witnessing is God’s purpose for every Christian. It must be practiced in the context of life, and it must be verbal as well as nonverbal. Each equipping process helps the participant grow spiritually and develop skills for witnessing. Help is given in how to recognize witnessing opportunities, how to create an opportunity to witness, how to share the gospel in terms a lost person can understand, how to lead to a decision, and how to help a new Christian grow in Christ.
TELL Witness Training
TELL Witness Training is flexibly designed to be used in any size church on an individual basis or with small groups. The basic techniques are those of informal education.
TELL Witness Training is person centered. This thorough training process takes each individual where he is in motivation, knowledge, skills, and spiritual perception and brings him to a point of proficiency in functioning as a witness.
The educational process used involves: (1) confronting a vital issue which could be a problem, (2) isolating the decision about that issue, (3) understanding the ramifications of coping with that issue, and (4) searching for relevant facts and focusing on the issue. This process in itself promotes a constructive attitude toward personal growth.
A church must do three things to become involved in TELL Witness Training:
The church leaders must participate in a ten-to-twelve- hour training event. Preferably this should be the pastor and at least one lay leader.
A training plan must be designed by local church leaders based on information received in the training event.
Access must be obtained to a TELL Witness Training Kit.
Lay Evangelism School
The Lay Evangelism School is designed to involve adults and youth in a concentrated effort to learn the basics of how to witness. Traditional classroom or formal educational techniques are combined with the small-group process and on-the-job training concepts for an effective approach involving a large number of individuals with various back grounds in different stages of readiness to witness.
The Lay Evangelism School involves three months of preparation, one week of intensive training, and three months of continued training. A Lay Evangelism School should never be attempted unless the full schedule of preparation, intensive training, and continued training can be given priority.
Continuing Witness Training
The Continuing Witness Training (CWT) process was developed because many evangelism leaders were convinced that any strategy for training witnesses would only scratch the surface of its potential unless those participating multiplied their witness by training other witnesses. CWT is de signed to use the model presentation concept of sharing the gospel as an alternative to a booklet or marked New Testament method, not as a substitute. The use of a booklet and marked New Testament have been effective ways of presenting the gospel, but there are many lay people who want to learn to share the gospel in a natural way when a Bible or a booklet is not available or conducive to use.
The participants in the CWT process are the pastor leader, equippers, witnesses, apprentices, encouragers, and prayer partners. The pastor/leader gives direction through the training process. An equipper is a leader who has attended a certified training seminar and has memorized and used the model presentation in sharing the gospel, or he is a certified witness. He/she must have the ability and be willing to make a commitment to spend thirteen weeks training two other Christians to witness. Certified witnesses are those who have completed the thirteen-week CWT cycle as apprentices and have memorized and used the model presentation to present the gospel. Apprentices are fellow church members who desire to learn to witness and are willing to make a commitment to thirteen weeks of in depth study, memorization, and weekly training sessions. Encourages are members of the church family who are not involved in the witness training process but are willing to make a commitment to assist new Christians in working through the Survival Kit For New Christians. Prayer partners are other church members who are not involved in the witness training process but are willing to make a commitment to pray regularly for and with the pastor/leader, an equipper, or an apprentice. The Pastor/Leader Manual the Equipper Manual, the Apprentice Manual, and the Survival Kit for New Christians are the primary resources used in CWT.
Church Training Witnessing Approaches
How to Witness module The How to Witness Equipping Center module has a strong appeal both to new converts and to those who have been Christians for sears. in enlistment, church members should be reminded that witnessing is every Christians job and every Christian has a responsibility to God and to the lost world to develop witnessing skills.
The How to Witness module offers practical, on-the-job training in how to witness with our lips as well as with our lives. It is designed to help individuals apply the principles of life-style witnessing by leading them to learn to share naturally their personal experience with Christ and to use selected Scriptures to explain how one becomes a Christian. it also helps the participants develop a devotional life that fosters spiritual growth and improves ones effectiveness as a witness.
Two other Equipping Center modules can be used as effective tools in witnessing. The Training Sunday School Workers in Outreach module equips Sunday School workers to enlist the lost in Bible study through the Sunday School. Helping a Child Understand Salvation is another good Equipping Center module.
Master Life Discipleship Training for Leaders. Master Life is a six-month, in-depth discipleship program whose purpose is to equip leaders and potential leaders in spiritual foundations for leadership by helping them master the basic spiritual disciplines of discipleship and b training them to help others master these disciplines. Master Life is available only to churches whose leadership has been trained to implement it in their church. This training is available at statewide, regional, and associational Master- Life Workshops.
Survival Kit for New Christians.The Survival Kit for New Christians is a practical guide for spiritual growth for new converts. The Survival Kit requires fifteen minutes per day, five days per week, for eleven weeks. It requires a daily use of the Bible in personal study. All ness Christians should be provided a copy of the Survival Kit on their profession of faith. There are now adult, south, and childrens editions of the Survival Kit plus a leaders guide.
Disciple Youth. Disciple Youth is a basic discipleship/ evangelism course for youth, grades seven through twelve. It introduces the basic elements of discipleship to all youth in a church through an intro Disciple-Youth Weekend Retreat. This retreat is followed by thirteen weeks of study and thirteen weeks of witness visitation. A Deepening Discipleship Retreat follows the thirteen weeks of visitation. Disciple Youth, when properly implemented, will help youth to reach other south with Jesus Christ through the church.
Undated and dated curriculum.Every Christians Job is a classic among Southern Baptists for its powerful yet practical message on witnessing and personal evangelism.
The Church Training dated periodicals will emphasize church growth during 1981-82 and will have a year-long emphasis in evangelism and missions in 1984-85.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.