Jan 19, 2015


Growing an Evangelistic Culture

Gary Stidham, Director of the Baptist Student Ministry at UT-Arlington, writes on how to grow an evangelistic culture in your collegiate ministry.

Last year, our campus ministry was humbled and amazed that over eighty students made a profession of faith in Christ. While our ministry has a few gifted evangelists, the cool thing is that LOTS of students had the privilege of leading someone to Christ. Why? Because we’ve cultivated a culture of evangelism where the majority of Christian students share the Gospel regularly and effectively. This culture didn’t happen overnight. And here are a few steps that got our campus ministry down that road. Students have to WANT to share, then know HOW to share, then SHARE the Gospel.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. 

If you say something enough times, people start to believe it!

  • “God put us on this campus to reach people for Jesus.”
  • “Jesus tells us to open our eyes because the fields are ripe for harvest.”
  • “If all we do is fellowship with other Christians, then we might as well close the doors.”
  • “Jesus said the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few… And Jesus doesn’t lie!”

This vision gets said the first time our ministry meets in August and almost every week afterward. A Christian student isn’t shocked when a ministry staffer asks them to come on campus to share the Gospel together; they expect it. It’s what they’re signing up for if they join the group! Being crystal clear about your ministry’s evangelistic purpose helps your students – and you – stay focused on Jesus’s great commission to make disciples.

Train. Train. Train. 

Students may WANT to share the Gospel, but they also have to know HOW to share. Four years ago, our ministry starting doing evangelism training: an hour a week, every single week. And we’ve continued to train students in evangelism every single Friday afternoon for four years. Sure, it may seem like a lot. But it really says something about what’s important. This training has become such a part of our ministry’s culture that it’s part of the “pitch” to new students. “Come to worship; come to Bible study; come to training.”  Topics vary from week to week: sometimes more practical, sometimes more theological. Often our staff takes turns leading, and sometimes we invite guest speakers. Variety keeps it interesting, but every lesson aims to help students be confident, competent and consistent in witnessing.

Share. Share. Share. 

It’s not enough to WANT to share and to know HOW to share the Gospel. We have to SHARE the Gospel. Most Christian students have a desire to share Christ, and some know how to do it. But fewer cross the line and do it. The most important part of creating an evangelistic culture is doing it!  On our campus, every Friday after training, students go on campus two-by-two to do contact evangelism with strangers. If someone has never been before, they just pair up with someone who is confident. Our staff always attends and constantly invites new students to participate. You can also do tables, fliers, surveys, dorm outreaches to give your Christian students the opportunity to share. Success spurs more success, so when one staff or student get bold in evangelism it emboldens others to share. Get out there and do it. The harvest is plentiful!

What have you found to be key steps to get your students sharing?

about the author

Gary Stidham

Gary is the director of the Baptist Student Ministry at the University of Texas - Arlington. He and his wife Teresa have two sons.