Blog
Posted on March 1, 2019 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism
A number of exciting new Christian movies hit last year. Excellent Christian radio stations broadcast throughout our area. On cable and satellite TV there are a number of channels carrying the gospel. Tracts are in abundance. Bibles are being distributed and creating opportunities for spiritual conversations.

What can your church do to use different media tools to accelerate response to the gospel in your own community?

The word “communication” is very broad and encompasses more than a dozen categories ranging from drama, storytelling and research to advertising, TV and social media. Generally, media tools fall into three categories: print (books, periodicals, newspaper), electronic (audio, video, digital), and traditional (drama, stories).
Marshall McLuhan is credited with saying, “The medium is the message.” Christians believe that the Holy Spirit is the one that convicts and not the manipulation of some media tool. However, the axiom is true, “The medium can affect the message.” Stated plainly, the communications tools may be used or misused.

Media tools can do two things very well:
1.    Help people evaluate a new idea objectively and from a safe distance. This helps them count the cost, risk assessment, and determine the value of decisions.
2.    Reinforce relationships and confirm decisions made in the past. They can promote loyalty, recruit others to try it, and assist explanations for actions taken.
Media tools can do two things poorly:
1.    Push into places where they are not welcomed, endangering the sender. Media tools can distort viewpoints, generate biases, and jeopardize the faithful.
2.    Alienate people instead of fostering personal relationships. They can make people throw up shields, add distance, and can inoculate against future attempts to share the Gospel. Church leaders need to make some very important decisions. Should they work quietly with hand-to-hand distribution or in a much more mass appeal?

A public launch of some Christian media tool, such as a movie or even a splashy event, lends “credibility” among people that don’t know Jesus as their Savior. If a news article, magazine feature, or public figure discusses the actual title of the resource or event, then acceptance is more likely among non-Christians. They may not trust you, but they can trust an authority they respect.

Even a well-timed and attractive ad in a newspaper, poster series, billboard, or cable TV spot can carry a certain amount of “preparing the way” for receiving Christ into their lives. Among the most antagonistic people, it might be necessary to tell amazing stories that you know to establish credibility as a storyteller. If they happen to be from the God’s Word, then so much the better!

Churches must try to communicate clearly and in places in which intended audiences can receive them in time. In Romans 10:14-17, Paul not only expressed the need for preachers, but he also focused on the importance of faith coming by “hearing” or “understanding.” In the Parable of the Sower in Mark 4:1-20, Jesus offered no condemnation on the sower for getting some seed among the thorns, in with some rocks, or sprinkled along the pathway.

An evangelistic video showing or gospel tract distribution is like a fireworks show. The crowd stands around giving their ooohs and aaaahs. But spectators can be fickle. They wonder, “What is next?” or “What else do you have?”
So, think “river,” not fireworks. When a person steps into a river, they quickly feel the flow of the current. Evangelistic media should provide multiple entry points that should all lead the same direction. Whether far upstream or way downstream, the strength of the current varies, but the movement is in one direction. One media use should lead the user or viewer closer to a believer who can introduce them personally to Jesus.

Evangelism-discipleship media tools work together over time to create powerful effects. Give the Holy Spirit many opportunities to bring spiritual transformation.  
 
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association. He holds a Masters in Communications Management from Virgina Commonwealth University.
Posted on January 23, 2019 8:00 AM by Josh Carter
Categories: Evangelism
What does a healthy, productive, and successful year look like?
 
For some it’s getting a new job, getting a raise, or completing a degree. For many it’s finally working up the motivation to lose that weight that just keeps hanging on. With any of these goals intentionality is required. Diligence, determination, and discipline are all necessary to complete life’s great goals as well as overcome life’s great challenges. 
 
Intentionality matters in nearly everything we do and it matters in ministry the most. Let’s ask the question this way, if you are trying to lose weight or get in better shape, will you be satisfied or disappointed if this time next year your body looks the same if not a little worse for wear? Now,  what about the body of Christ which you serve? God has called us to exercise and be good stewards of the gifts he has given each local expression of the church. God has called us to healthy growth through missions, evangelism, and discipleship.
 
If the church you serve looks the same next year, if not a little worse for wear, will you be satisfied or disappointed that you were somehow unable to make the most of the opportunities that God brought your way?  Like exercise, evangelism and missions take great intentionality. This means that you need to have a focus and a strategy to accomplish the vision, rise to the challenges, and successfully navigate the opportunities that the Lord provides for you in 2019. If you would like help in developing an evangelism, discipleship, or overall strategy for your church the other catalysts and I would consider it a privilege to serve you in these areas in 2019. Like exercising with a good friend, great things can happen when we partner together to accomplish God’s work. 
 
Let me finish by personally inviting you to two upcoming events that will greatly resource you as you   develop your evangelism strategy this year:

~Saturate Cincinnati will take place on             
February 21, 2019 around lunch, and the location is TBD. You can view the website at        https://www.saturatecincinnati.org/

~No Place Left will take place at Clough Pike Baptist Church on February 22-23, 2019.
Mission
 
-- Dr. Josh Carter serves as CABA's Evangelism Catalyst and pastors Clough Pike Baptist Church in Cincinnati, Oh.
Posted on December 13, 2018 10:41 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism
After interviewing five men from Central Asia in refugee camps, I asked them what would attract them to actually listen to Bible stories on the radio. After suggesting five or six options, I asked, “Would you listen to conversion testimonies from Muslims, even Muslim religious leaders?” Their eyes grew wide. One asked through an interpreter, “There is such a thing?”

In their country, conversion was considered an act of treason punishable by death. One man said that his child was almost kicked out of school for being caught with one page from a Christian coloring book–and they were Muslims. Yet, their religious leaders and thousands of everyday folks were quietly praying to receive Christ. Now, in some Muslim areas, Jesus reveals Himself in dreams that lead them to seek the Truth. However, in this country, many were coming to faith in Christ through the bold, if careful, witness of believers.

When I discussed Muslim conversion in that area with an IMB missionary working among them he said, “The veneer of Islam has created a hunger for the Gospel. They know their leaders don’t have anything to offer and they turn to Christians that they know to request the Bible, evangelistic materials…anything to help them understand the Gospel.”
The point was that the believers had to risk everything to walk in obedience with Jesus. And, in obedience to the Great Commission, they were seeking to make disciples. If they kept quiet, they could live normal lives. If they spoke up, some may believe, but some may turn them in to the religion police.

Step back and examine your walk with the Lord. Is it in obedience to Jesus? Do you share your faith? Are you helping someone become a disciple; even a disciple-maker? Are you currently active or “taking a break”?

When a man was caught distributing the Bible in this predominantly Muslim area, he was brought before a judge. The judge forced him to bring in his pastor. The pastor asked the judge, “What is so harmful in the Bible’s message?” The judge answered, “People will believe the Bible if they read it and I will lose my job.” The judge gave the two believers a stern warning and set them free.

Why would someone want to ask you about Jesus? What is your faith reputation?

Many times people who are not believers exert their authority because they feel it is their role as an official enforcer. That doesn’t mean that some time later they won’t seek you out. In one Muslim area, a police sergeant told a believer that he had to guard a shipment of Bibles. He wondered about the fuss over a mere book until he began to read it. When he got to the part about Jesus, he prayed to find a believer who could resolve the situation. He gave his heart to Jesus, but felt conflicted because he had to keep enforcing the local law.

There are many enforcers who exert negative influence against the Gospel. In America, they typically are in seven “power centers:” government/military (elected officials/leaders), business (CEOs), education (superintendents/principals), news media (anchors/producers), sports (star players), arts & entertainment (writers/actors), and the family (head of households).

Why not be intentional to talk to them about your faith in Jesus?

In predominately Muslim areas, sharing Christ is understood to be done going against the dominant culture. Increasingly, Cincinnati Baptists find themselves witnessing in a hostile environment. Just as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3 faced down a king passing laws hostile to their faith, so believers today are facing a furnace of their own.
 
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership (AMS) for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
Posted on November 15, 2018 10:15 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism
Churches with an evangelism strategy have many more baptisms, some 60% more. The key is to be intentional and specific seeking the Lord’s leading in planning. Each CABA church is urged to have a Missions Committee focused on lostness. Here are five steps that pastors should share with a Missions Committee leader.

Step One: Research lostness

Internal assessment: I recommend the “Fruit Inspection” guide available free on our website, www.CincinnatiBaptist.com in the “Leadership” section.  Use it to look for strengths, weaknesses, and even gaps in equipping/discipling among segments of members – missiology, doctrine, depth, lifestyle issues, witnessing experience, etc.

External assessment: Boots on the ground knocking on doors is vital. Over the past three years, teams of volunteers have mapped the most ethnically-diverse areas of Cincinnati. The same principles apply in canvassing the community where you serve. Then compile the resources into a prayer guide – “the” place to start for mobilizing workers among the lost. CABA’s prayer guide for the “Nations” is on Cincinnati.com, too. Look for it in the “Missions” section.

Evaluate resources available: Be realistic about people, time, and budget.

Step Two: Pray intentionally

Teach your people to pray. The book, One Cry, is a “win” to draw believers into a closer relationship with the Lord (www.onecry.com) It is encapsulated in a six-week program, but can initiate a movement. Sunday School classes need to know how to pray and what to pray for. Getting segments within the church engaged in specific ways is important.

Contact Ken Slaughter, CABA’s prayer encourager to begin praying for the lost across Cincinnati. Contact Ken at emailpastorken@gmail.com. Ask him to add you to our early-morning prayer times.  

Step Three: Equip for disciple-making

Role models: Pastors and church leaders must set the example for their members.

Personal evangelism: No Place Left uses the Three Circles method of evangelism. It is highly conversational and doesn’t assume prior biblical knowledge. It also has a clear path to becoming disciples that can immediately share their faith with the lost.

Teamwork: Sending out teams two by two requires intentionality and training. We’re using No Place Left training, which is an international phenomenon. The next (free) training is February 22-23 at Clough Pike. Registration is on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/no-place-left-cincinnati-tickets-53059832387?aff=ebdssbdestsearch
 
Decision Counselors should help new believers after their decision to follow Christ and make it public. New believers need to know how to lead someone to Christ. Follow-up must be required to help new believers become active witnesses and disciple-makers.
 
Step Four: Sow down the Gospel
 
Widespread evangelization: Initiate a blitz during an evangelistic “season” that may last for one month at a strategic time. The ideal time are the weeks prior to Easter.
Internet: Recording and uploading member testimonies of believers in your church can be promoted using business cards. You may use an existing service such as www.mostimportantthing.org, www.whativaluemost.com, or perhaps your church’s website can host it.
 
Commit to making disciples. That should be every CABA church’s number one biblical priority. Make sure everything done is reproducible and holds people accountable for spiritual development. I believe Bible Storying holds relational and supportive keys to reproducibility. I can provide a catalog of resources to those who write snowdenministries@gmail.com. You can order online the book that Avery Willis and I wrote titled Truth That Sticks that really gets after disciple-making.
 
Step Five: Celebrate with a purpose
 
Baptisms should become more inclusive and celebratory. New believers should invite family members. The focus of the service should be on the need for salvation and baptism. This helps the new believer be a bolder witness for Jesus.
 
As the campaign continues throughout the year, testimonials and experiences should be showcased in every communication vehicle of the church including the pulpit as a prioritized act of worship. Remember, you’re not bragging on what you, a committee, the strategy, or the church did, but giving glory to what God did through your church through the activity of the Holy Spirit. This is an Acts 14:27 event as the church gets together and learns how God “opened a door of faith.”
 
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association. Follow him on Twitter at @wmarksnowden.
Posted on October 25, 2018 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism
My mother’s favorite story is about a little girl who needed new shoes, but foolishly spent her money on a beautiful purple jar. One day she opened the jar and dropped it on the floor. All the purple water spilled out. She was left not only with a useless jar, but shoes that hurt her feet. 
 
Recognize this as a parable for evangelizing opportunities. Millions are distracted by dressed-up philosophies while they hobble along, having settled for what they wanted and not what they needed.
 
In the Cincinnati Area, believers do not witness for Jesus in a vacuum. There are churches in many places as well as on television. Thousands of messages bombard non-Christians shaping their theology, doctrinal premises, and understanding of Christianity prior to salvation.  Countering with Truth is as simple as speaking to your neighbor. A testimony from a friend or coworker can shine light on Satan’s ploys. The Holy Spirit is at work!
 
This past summer, I joined Sajjan Betham, a member of Newtown First, to evangelize in his neighborhood. In only one hour, two families committed to being in a Bible study at Sajjan’s home.  While I was waiting for an hour at the Health
Dept., the security guard and I discussed salvation. He said that he had heard the Gospel already because he used to work at Kroger with Jerome Byrd, who now pastors Good News Baptist. 
 
In Luke 10, Jesus sent out His disciples with a purpose to intentionally prepare people in towns to receive Jesus and His kingdom message.  Trained as disciple-makers, believers in your church can join with other believers in God’s harvest. Acts 1:8 carries a promise to witnesses that they will receive power.
 
The important thing is to obey Jesus and prayerfully “look to the harvest fields” (John 4:35).  Worldly ideas are like purple jars that fill our neighborhoods, but they fall short of God’s saving design. Engage in intentional evangelism that proclaims Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6), then make disciple-makers.
 
--Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
Posted on October 16, 2018 10:00 AM by Josh Carter
Categories: Evangelism
Here are six tips to be more evangelistic this next month:
 
1) Pick a Tool. I like to use “The 3 Circles.” You may not love evangelism tools or you may like another evangelism tool and that is fine. I just know when I go to share Christ, it is always better to go prepared than unprepared. 
 
2) Pick a Time. As a pastor or church leader, a thousand different things can come up during your week. You must, and I stress that, carve out time to be evangelistic. If you do not, you will not. 
 
3) Pick a Place. Determine where you will go in your community to share the gospel. You will rarely share the Gospel in your office, so pick a place where the community gathers and then go to them.
 
4) Bring Someone Along. I am always more evangelistic when I know someone is with me than when I’m by myself. Maybe it’s just the pastor in me, but I intentionally bring someone to show how it’s done. I tend to do a little better, too.
 
5) Share with Your Church. If you want to build evangelistic zeal in your church, start giving personal accounts of how you have been evangelizing. You will probably find the fresh new accounts to be more relatable and encouraging to the church than the story of how you led someone to Christ 20 years ago.
 
6) Consider Some Help. If you would like some help on growing in evangelistic zeal personally or as a church, reach out to me because CABA has some great pastors and resources that you can pull from to help you and your church impact the lostness around you. In fact, it’s the reason CABA exists! Contact me at JCarter@CloughPike.com
 
Josh Carter serves as CABA's Evangelism Catalyst and pastors Clough Pike Baptist in Cincinnati.
Posted on September 19, 2018 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
When I led a Sunday School class for our church’s college students, I was astounded one Sunday when one long-time Christian and faithful attender blurted out, “Just tell us what to believe.”
 
My Baby Boomer generation grew up doubting the Establishment with its political corruption, humiliated tele-evangelists, rampant inflation, and unethical business practices. The Baby Boomer mantra was lifted straight from Karl Marx, “Question everything.”
 
This was unique to me. I belonged to a youth group at church, but went to public schools, participated in the student council, and played sports. I started looking at these college kids more closely. Over time I realized that it is possible for young adult followers of Jesus to live in a parallel universe that does not intersect with the larger society. Many Millennials that profess Christ were raised, schooled, dated, got jobs, married, and began the cycle all over again raising kids within a Christian bubble.
 
Millennials are an age grouping that includes the oldest members born in the early 1980s, now in their mid-30s, and it goes down in ages to those born 17 or 18 years ago. But when I look around churches where I teach and preach, I don’t see significant numbers of Millennials beyond those in the most vibrant youth groups. Just look at the 2010 census counts to see the majority of Millennials are unengaged.
 
And I’m convinced it’s not always the crowd that “loves Jesus, but hates the church” described in Steven Crainie’s book. Tom Gilson, in a review of the book unchristian by David Kinnaman, points fingers at our churches, “This book robbed me of sleep, revealing, as it does, how badly the church is disconnected from younger Americans, and how negatively we are viewed. The source of the disconnect, I’m convinced, is that our discipleship has been weak, sloganistic, not very thoughtful, not loving enough, shallow. Though 29% of Americans say they are highly committed to Jesus Christ, only 3% espouse a Biblical worldview, defined for research purposes as adhering to eight basic doctrines of Christian religion.”
 
Leaders of Bible studies using Bible Storying methods likely have the best chance of effective disciple-making among Millennials. However, I believe two groups of Millennials may have to be evangelized and discipled as if they were two different people groups. Those with a strong evangelical background may need to be challenged more to be evangelistic than those who are from the “lost” ranks. Those with a nominal Christian background are biblically illiterate. An active witness cannot assume those Millennials that they encounter with the gospel know any Bible stories, not to mention basic Christian doctrine. Bible verses used in tracts will be from an unknown context and use words unfamiliar with the lost. Millennials raised in the Christian bubble will have just as difficult time and will likely need cross-cultural training to gain significant relevance among their own peers. Believers need reproducible methods and tools that Storying provides.
 
Bible stories and Storying methodology provide vital tools for advancing the gospel among those in the next generation to the glory of God. Using Bible stories or proverbs as illustrative points in a conversation can flow naturally and planting seeds for future conversations. Being a friend that cares is one thing. Being involved in an important community project that they’re invited to be alongside you is probably even more important. Sharing life together provides a witness when it is verbalized in a relevant but moving story from God’s Word.
 
If an oral approach is ignored, I’m afraid that Millennials will keep considering Christ is no different than considering, well, Karl Marx.
 
Mark Snowden is Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
Posted on August 15, 2018 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism, Missions
Nobody met me at the Mexico City airport. And from what I could tell, nobody was speaking English. I had to reach deep for every syllable I had learned in a Spanish class just to navigate across town. When I later paid the taxi driver in pesos and walked toward my destination the sense of accomplishment was incredible. God had kindly immersed me – sink or swim – in an alien culture. And for a 21 year-old at the time, that was a really big deal.
 
What I remember most about my arrival as a summer volunteer in Mexico was the chatter of unintelligible voices. I love the sound of people speaking other languages and particularly Español. The language has a melodic rhythm that I love to hear. Unlike my Spanish learning labs, nobody was speaking each word dis-tinct-ly and s-l-o-w-l-y. It was several weeks later until I could pick out words and begin to make sense of the river of sound gushing from Mexicans that I really wanted to understand. I once caught a pastor label me “El Mudo,” meaning “The Mute.” When he realized I understood what he said, I then heard him say in Spanish something like “be careful what you say, he understands more than he speaks.”
 
Genesis 11 describes people that had one language that started to build a great city and a tower that would reach to the heavens. God was cut out of their plans. So, God confused their language and the act scattered people across the earth. The building project stopped, but was forever labeled, “Babel.”
 
The primary sin of the people of Babel was leaving God out. Rather than having an opportunity to work with God, their apathy and self-reliance blocked them from joining God’s mission in a God-denying world. Sound familiar?
More than 2,000 years later, Acts 2 tells of 120 followers of Jesus who were praying during the Pentecost festival.
 
When the Holy Spirit came upon them, they spilled out into the streets of Jerusalem telling everyone the mighty works of God. And they did it in the languages of those they encountered.
 
When contrasting Babel with Pentecost, it’s easy to see what happens when believers pray expectantly. God equips them to be His effective witnesses, even when testifying to His greatness among those with a different language or culture.
 
God wants an opportunity to work through us, not despite of us. At Babel, the people chose to work together in the most aggressive building project known to mankind….but without God. They missed the opportunity and it brought disunity. At Pentecost, when empowered by God, the believers’ community was transformed as 3,000 repented, believed on Jesus, were baptized, and became disciple-makers.
 
Yes, it is hard to cross-cultures to take the Gospel, but the Holy Spirit provides and empowers. There are few higher honors given than to learn a lost person’s language.
 
Years ago, I received a call from a woman who was upset about illegal immigrants working in her community. But the reason she called was to ask, “Am I supposed to witness even to illegal immigrants?” I shared with her that legal or not, when any person returns to their homeland as a born-again Christian, they could share the good news of Jesus as they went. She was quiet a long time. Then she actually sighed and said, “Okay, I’ll witness to them.”
 
Pray for God to send workers into His harvest field to adopt one of the Cincinnati Area’s some 40+ immigrant people groups. Some have churches planted among them, but some have just been discovered and are not likely to be born again.
 
A missionary was waiting for me at the airport, but waiting at the wrong airline. Mistakes happen. However, I believe that when we align our lives with God’s mission, He provides a way – even if it’s just to get a guy like me – or you – across town and onto the Lord’s harvest field.
 
 
Mark Snowden serves as the Director for Missional Leadership of the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
Posted on July 16, 2018 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism
    Lawrence led a man on the street to Jesus as part of Crossover prior to the SBC in Indianapolis. The man immediately asked, “May I go tell my sister?” Lawrence agreed and soon watched as the man brought his sister out of an apartment building. After Lawrence led her to faith in Christ she admitted, “The second floor of that apartment is a brothel, but I’ll go tell them.” Lawrence pointed to the Baptist church, which was just across the street. The brother and sister said that they would go there to learn more about living for Christ.
    Would your church be ready to disciple these new believers?
Each year our churches see thousands of new believers who choose to surrender their lives to Christ in faith. Where are they now?
     In Truth That Sticks, Avery Willis and I pulled in a definition of discipleship that he had developed when writing On Mission with God with Henry Blackaby. He wrote:
     “Following Jesus is a lifelong, personal, relationship with Jesus in which He transforms our character into Christlikeness, our values into kingdom values, and in which God invites us to join Him in His mission in the home, the church, and the world.”
     Using “following Jesus” instead of “Christian” designates a person that is a disciple of no other philosophy, tradition, or religion. Unfortunately, “Christian” can often mean “not Muslim.” It is that “lifelong, personal, relationship with Jesus” that makes the difference. It may start as a decision that is made public by raising a hand, walking an aisle, or meeting with the pastor after an evangelistic worship service, but it reflects the change of the heart; that volition of the will.
     Jesus brings transformation in our lives – particularly to our character and values. I frequently rail against behaviors that align with a godly lifestyle but lack the transformed heart. Avery noted that behaviors follow the inward transformation. We respond to the initiative that God takes to involve us in His mission.
God’s mission starts in the home. According to George Barna in Think Like Jesus, only two percent of born-again teenagers live their lives in alignment with a biblical worldview. As hard as this is to say, God invites us not to focus solely on our homes, but to SIMULTANEOUSLY participate in His work in church and the world. It’s a full-court press. Jesus commanded us that as we are going to make disciples of all peoples everywhere (Matthew 28:18-19). In Acts 1:8, Jesus promised His Holy Spirit would empower His disciples to share their witness of a changed life wherever in the world they went. The saying is true that our Jerusalem is someone else’s ends of the earth.
     We are admonished to pray, “Maranatha! Come, our Lord!” (I Cor. 16:22) But when you evaluate the huge numbers of lost people in our land, a cry for mercy comes from our throats, “Oh, Lord, can’t you wait just a bit longer for one more soul to be saved?”
 
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
Posted on June 5, 2018 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Evangelism
In my ministry, I often hear well-intentioned men and women give their testimony. Is there a better way? How is it possible to improve upon one’s personal experience with Jesus? We live in a time when people are complimented for even sharing their faith! But what happens when we spend too much time on the "before Christ" part and the moment of salvation is unfortunately muted, stunted, and offers no handles that a lost person can grab?
Have you told someone your personal salvation story in a while? Your testimony should model how someone can be saved. We all want to glorify God in what we say to others. And so here’s your opportunity to re-examine how what you say can present God’s plan of salvation. Helping others have a clear path to Christ is the ultimate way to honor God with your testimony.

Make your personal story more powerful. We'll address a typical three-part testimony – before, during, and after.

Before: A life before Christ is typically self-centered, but there should also be acknowledgement of the Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin. There’s a point of recognizing that we all stand guilty before God. Many people in America’s post-modern society think sin is what happens when you get caught. Saying how you knew what sin was should be based upon biblical concepts of knowing what to do, but not doing it (James 4:17). Shorten your experiences before Christ. You certainly don’t want to give them new ideas that Satan will tempt them to try later.

During: Providing a model for a lost person should be your priority. A friend of mine once said he made a fact-based decision without much of a change of heart. He described it similar to “buying fire insurance.” Be very clear about the need to repent of your sins as well as surrendering yourself to Christ. That’s the brass ring the lost need to hang onto in your testimony. Describe how your personal relationship with Jesus began. Don’t rush it. Be thorough and know why you are saying what you’re saying. How you say it will likely become the model that a new believer will use in their own life. If you present a dozen Bible verses in random order, so will they. Since most people are oral learners, presenting the gospel in the form of your story is powerful when it includes key Bible truths. These can be conveyed in summary versions of Bible stories and it may be necessary to convey this part of your testimony in multiple meetings depending on the time you have available.

After: Practice explaining that your spiritual transformation was by God’s grace, not any effort of your own. Describe the difference your life has been because you have the Holy Spirit of God to guide you (John 16:13). It’s okay to describe a few good works you’ve done since, but they should convey more than accepting a new set of rules, making different moral choices, and even efforts you’ve made at changing certain behaviors. These can come off as man-centered. Work hard to humbly give God the glory for allowing you to experience life according to what the Bible says. Just like the “before” section, this should be brief, too.

In a three-minute testimony, consider these parts: 30 seconds before decision, two minutes describing the decision, and 30 seconds after the decision.

It helps to immediately follow-up to giving your testimony by asking questions. Ask them if they would like to make a similar decision to follow Christ! If your “during the decision” part was presented carefully, then the lost person will know exactly what they should do—and how they will share their own personal salvation story to others one day. When used by the Lord, it's more powerful!
 
--Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership, Cincinnati Area Baptist Association
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