One hundred and twenty football players in a locker room. One hundred and seventy mourners at a funeral. Two young women wandering in a parking lot. A classroom full of students in a secular college philosophy class.Not soliciting spiritual answers or seeking out a preacher, these people were simply going about their business—playing sports, grieving the dead,waiting for a ride and earning class credit.
But, because of one North Texas pastor following the Lord’s instruction to lead out in evangelism in his church, each of these people heard the gospel clearly and confidently explained. It wasn’t the pastor, though, who shared with them but members of an ever-growing gospel army rising up at First Baptist Church of Euless.
Last year as pastor John Meador was preparing his message for the Southern Baptist Convention’s 2014 annual meeting to be held in Baltimore, Maryland, the Lord guided him not to select a text or write a message. Instead, he would live the message, and that is what he would share with Baptists in Baltimore. Meador says he certainly did not know what the Lord meant or intended by that all those months ago. Looking back, it is pristinely clear.
Before he was ever invited to preach at the annual meeting, the Lord had already begun working on the substance of that message.
“We needed an evangelism ministry here,” Meador said. “I’d been involved in evangelism ministries over the years, but since I became a senior pastor here… most of that’s delegated to a staff member. But the Lord began to convict me, ‘No, you as a senior pastor need to step up and lead the way. It’s never going to get into the DNA of the church unless you do it.’ So I really began to be convicted in that.”
Meanwhile, the pastor continued his patterns for evangelism and ministry at Euless. In addition to giving clear presentations of the gospel and extending invitations to salvation in each worship service, Meador was and is personally committed to meeting visitors at the church’s guest reception each week following the service. At the reception, known as Guest Central, he tells the two or eight or 20 people who gather that he wants to share with them the one conversation he would have with each of them if he could only have one. In just a few minutes, Meador conveys in a concise and conversational way that faith in Christ—not works or church attendance or good behavior—is the only reason God will ever let anyone into heaven. Hundreds who have listened to Meador’s brief presentation over the years have trusted Christ for salvation.
Somewhere along the way, a church member suggested to Meador that he put the presentation on paper so others could emulate the message and share with people who don’t come to Guest Central. So, he did just that and began training church members to share, resulting in a ministry that now bears the name Can We Talk?, which Meador leads each week. The pastor and his church had found God’s answer to the need for a pastor-led evangelism ministry, and Meador had the message he needed to share and did share at the 2014 annual meeting.
“We saw God raise up a community of people in the church that believed the gospel was going to change the world and that he was going to do it from right here,” Meador said.
Nearly 600 church members—from teenagers to senior citizens—have been trained to share the gospel with confidence and are now qualified as Can We Talk? trainers. Each semester, Meador casts the vision, equips the people and then leads them in going out in groups of three to share the gospel in the community. Meanwhile, prayer partners gather to pray the entire time the groups are sharing, directed by live requests sent via Twitter feed to a television screen at the church.
“When [the Tweet] came through and said [Sofia] had accepted Christ, it was like someone scored a touchdown at a football game,” said John Briere, a deacon at First Euless and a Can We Talk? team leader.
Briere says Can We Talk? has revolutionized his life by equipping him to confidently engage lost people—both strangers and those he knows well—with the truth of the gospel. Watching his pastor’s evangelistic example and repeatedly listening to a Can We Talk? CD has significantly helped Briere feel prepared to strike up conversations that he can direct toward the gospel.
“In the beginning I was fumbling my way through it,” Briere said. “Now [I’m] sensitive to when God is putting those opportunities in front of [me]. I’ve had countless conversations with colleagues that I never would have before.”
Briere even used what he learned through Can We Talk? to share the gospel with about 170 people at his father’s funeral—something he says he never would have done before the training.
Jenna Milleson, Meador’s executive assistant, and college student Morgan Wilson—both active in Can We Talk?—led a young woman to Christ in the church’s parking lot just a day before talking to the TEXAN. Milleson said two weeks prior to their sharing with the woman in the parking lot, their pastor also led someone to the Lord in the same parking lot. She said Meador’s involvement and accessibility has helped make evangelism at First Euless not just a top priority at the church but a pervading culture.
Meador says he, too, is immensely grateful for the increased church member interaction afforded him by Can We Talk? each week.
“I get to know these people. I get to love on them and laugh with them and communicate passion to them and watch them grow,” Meador said. “I get to know the John Briers who are out there sharing the gospel at their dads’ funerals.”
Wilson also had the opportunity to share with her college philosophy class when she disagreed with the professor’s appraisal of Jesus and Christianity and was ready to defend her beliefs with grace and confidence. Wilson says Can We Talk? has shown her that God has given her a mission field in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Another unexpected blessing, Wilson said, is seeing all ages from across the church catch a passion for sharing the gospel.
Meador said a 13-year-old boy who had been through the class multiple times with his dad approached him at church to say he is ready to be a team leader. Milleson said a 13-year-old girl from Can We Talk? pulls her teachers out into the hallway during free periods and study halls to share with them at the Spirit’s prompting. A football coach asked another student involved with Can We Talk? if he had anything inspirational he could share with the football team before they ended their practice on Good Friday. The student jumped right in and shared with the team the record book of sin illustration that Meador taught him.
“These are just normal kids that have gotten excited about the gospel,” Meador said.
Meador said other churches and pastors are beginning to catch the excitement and model their own evangelism efforts after Euless’. In 2015 First Euless will offer 10 conferences across the state of Texas to equip pastors. Information is available at johnmeador.com/can-we-talk/.
Briere and Meador agreed that the conversational approach of Can We Talk? equips and emboldens church members to share throughout the course of their day-to-day lives, often with people they already know well. From locker rooms and funerals to parking lots and classes, daily life provides many divine appointments just waiting to be kept by believers, they said.
“Can We Talk? is not a program where we enlist more and more people to go out together to share the gospel one night a week,” Meador said in a July 2014 blog post. “Can We Talk? is about equipping people to share the gospel in their everyday lives.”
Southern Baptist TEXAN | texanonline.net
This article first appeared in the TEXAN Digital Magazine.
Special thanks to Sharayha Colter and Keith Collier