All posts by C. Doyle Hughes

Lover of Christ, wife, and children. Pastor, Reformed, Baptist.

Follow-up is Critical to Evangelism and Here’s Why

Have you ever thought about what happened after Paul’s conversion? We tend to think about this apostle as having always been a staunch defender of the faith having been converted on the road to Damascus. He was, in fact, just that, but if we were to look closely, we see that Paul was not alone in his journey from persecutor of the church to persecuted for the church. In Acts 9:17, we read, “So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit,” (ESV).  Whether or not it was Ananias or someone else who did the work, the very next verse states that Saul was baptized. Still someone had to bring him food as well. It was as if Paul had joined a new family and that family cared for him and his needs. That is indeed what happened. “For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus,” (Acts 9:19b, ESV). He stayed with them. They cared for him. It would seem that they did not have much of a chance to teach him as he states in Galatians, “I did not immediately consult with anyone, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus,” (Galatians 1:16b-17, ESV).

What happened in those three years we cannot say, but it would seem that this event took place before the riot against Paul in Damascus that can be read of in Acts 9. No one knows why Paul went into Arabia or for how long. According to Timothy George, two thoughts are given: 1) Paul went to Sinai where the law was given in order to meditate on his new-found faith and come to an understanding of the Messiah, or 2) to evangelize to the people of Arabia.[1] I would agree with George in that there is no need to choose between the two options. However, when Paul came back, he had certainly not settled all his theology, for Luke tells us, “But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ,” (Acts 9:22, ESV). The strength that Paul grew in was mental acumen and faith. He was able to make an argument. It is not hard to believe that those disciples with whom he stayed helped develop that theology in him, just as Aquila and Pricilla did in Apollos later on (cf. Acts 18:27).

We also read that those same disciples helped Paul escape in a basket when the Jewish mob sought to kill him. They cared not only for his spiritual growth but for his physical safety as well. When Paul escaped to Jerusalem, he had no one. The apostles and the laypersons were afraid of him (cf. Acts 9:26). If it were not for Barnabas, the son of encouragement, who stood beside Paul, he very well would have been rejected by all. Barnabas, utilizing his own name and influence, supported Paul in his endeavors, later to join him on his missionary journeys.

When the people heard and saw that Paul was a genuine believer and preaching Christ, they rejoiced (cf. Galatians 1:23). How this must have encouraged him! They urged him on to preach, and while in Antioch, he was sent on his way to be on mission to the Gentiles.

What can we then learn from this lesson on Paul? Follow-up is essential to evangelism. The new disciple needs a family. They need people to care about them, perhaps even house them if they have lost everything for the sake of Christ and the gospel. They need people to teach them, strengthen them, encourage them, rejoice over them, and have their back. They need to be trusted with the gospel and encouraged to proclaim it, letting them learn from their mistakes.

We read in Galatians 2, Paul has not only Barnabas, but Titus as well. Titus was learning from Paul. We also know Timothy did as well (though not mentioned in Galatians). It was to Timothy that Paul wrote, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also,” (2 Timothy 2:2, ESV). This was a disciple who was discipled and had discipled others, expecting and instructing them to disciple other disciples who would then disciple still more disciples. Follow-up and follow-through is critical to the Christian faith and evangelism. Let us not neglect to tell the good news, but let us also not neglect to follow up with the person to whom the good news was told.

[1] Timothy George, The New American Commentary: Galatians, (Nashville: B&H Publishing, 1994), 124.

Book Review: Turning Everyday Conversations into Gospel Conversations

Jimmy Scroggins, pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, Florida and Steve Wright, pastor of discipleship and church planting at the same church, teamed up and wrote a short book on evangelism. The title is what caught my eye. Personally, I have a hard time figuring out how to transition from everyday conversations into witnessing opportunities. When I saw the title, I knew I had to buy the book and read it. I am so thrilled to have found it and read it. It took me just a couple of hours to do so, but it has changed my way of evangelizing forever.

I am not going to give too much away in this book review, because I do believe that one should read this 116 page book themselves; it is worth the money if you want to become a better evangelizer (I use the word evangelizer versus evangelist as evangelists are considered professional or “really good” at evangelizing; evangelizers are what every Christian should be).

In seven quick chapters, Scroggins and Wright take us on a journey of evangelism. Because of my wanting to know about how to transition better, I jumped to chapter three (apparently missing that chapter four was titled “Transition to the Gospel”). Chapter three was about “Everyday People and Conversations”. The premise is that if one is having an actual conversation with someone, a problem or unwanted circumstance will eventually come up. That’s the cue to transition to the gospel. “Our conversations are never completely random or altogether open-ended. People are often looking to us to offer meaningful responses,” (p. 52). The only question is: can we give the most meaningful response? With the help of this book, the answer is yes.

The first two chapters of this book deal with the mission field and what the gospel is (don’t forget the resurrection of Christ; there is no hope if He has not risen). Then a quick chapter on how everyday conversations develop in chapter three, and finally in chapter four we find out how to transition those conversations into evangelistic opportunities. When I read how to do it, I literally said aloud, “Really? That’s it!? That’s all I have to do!?” It sounded so simple and yet I had never thought about it.

From that point, you will read about an evangelistic technique called the three circles method. This is so “user-friendly” it is flat out ridiculous. I quickly taught one of the church members that I pastor this method and three days later he led a woman to Christ using it. No evangelism would be complete without offering an invitation and response. That’s what chapter six is all about. And finally, chapter seven about making the new convert a disciple and an evangelizer immediately, without delay.

I only underlined one sentence in this book because it struck me so hard. “Repenting and believing doesn’t fix everything, but it does forgive everything,” (p. 84). There were many good things about this book, but that one line made an impact. In fact, I’ve probably said it to someone at least once a week sense reading this book three weeks ago.

If you get a chance, pick up this book and read it. It was published by B&H Publishing back in 2016. You can buy it on Amazon with Prime shipping for $9.22 or on ChristianBooks.com for $9.29, not including shipping.