One of the reasons I came on staff after graduating was that I knew I was a poor evangelist.
As a student involved in CO, I had learned some things about sharing the gospel, I had spent time in dorms inviting freshmen to events, and had even practiced evangelism on the beach at the Summer Training Project for multiple years. I still came to the end of my time as a student realizing that some of my biggest weaknesses and biggest fears were in evangelism. So I joined a staff team where that would be my job...
God sent me to be part of a team that has been pioneering at St. Cloud State University for the past two years, and I’m thankful for it. When you pioneer at a new campus, there is not much discipleship to be done - before you can help anyone grow in their faith, first you have to share it with them. This has been a challenge for me. I wouldn’t consider myself bold or outgoing, so walking on campus and striking up conversations doesn’t come naturally. (Luckily I have teammates who enjoy that part!) But the challenge has been a blessing, because in my weakness I’ve seen a lot of God’s strength.
One of the highlights of this past year at SCSU was an investigative Bible study we hosted. After months of building relationships and having one-on-one conversations, we started inviting students to have dinner and then discussed spiritual things together. We had anywhere from 10-20 students showing up every other week, and there were many fruitful follow up conversations. Some had never attended church and were curious to hear what we had to say. Some had stopped attending church because they were hurt or offended by the church, but they were willing to engage briefly over spiritual things. Some had arguments against Christianity and mainly came for a good meal and time with friends. But no matter the reason, I learned something from these meetings – evangelism is relational.
Very few people become believers without having a friendship with someone who follows Jesus. Evangelism is not an event, it is an ongoing relationship. As exciting as these investigative studies were when lots of students showed up, the real heart work was being done as we continued to love, serve, and engage students about what they believe over coffee dates, lunches, walks by the river, games at the gym, movie nights, etc.
So coming from someone who has much growing yet to do, this is what I’ve learned about evangelism. I may not have a “gift” for it, but that’s not the point. God is calling me to learn to love people wherever they’re at, and He takes care of any change that happens in their hearts.
As the team in St Cloud continues to share the gospel, please pray that God would make us faithful, fill us with love, and give us boldness to keep building relationships, keep initiating conversations, and keep offering Jesus as the source of true Life.
Campus Outreach Minneapolis
St. Cloud State University Staff