There should not be a difference in our thinking… but there is. The word “teach” connotes a classroom. The word “train” implies skills development. It is a mistake to separate the two ideas. Ultimately, knowledge should lead to action. But many times it doesn’t.
There are many evangelism training programs and seminars available. Most Christians have participated in one. Yet that experience doesn’t translate into actually doing evangelism. Well, it does for the first few days after the course. But six weeks later, life has gotten back to “normal” and very little evangelism is being done.
The lack of evangelism is not normally related to “knowing.” In fact some of the most effective evangelists are new believers who don’t know all that much. In spite of that, there is still value in evangelism courses. But it can’t stop there. There must be coaching. And it should be a player/coach. The teacher type stands on the sidelines but the player/coach actually gets on the field and plays the game.
This idea was driven home to me early in my ministry. Sensing a need to improve evangelism in my church I prepared a series of messages on the topic. But the more I pounded the pulpit, the less happened. I finally realized that I was the problem. My approach was to simply give information and create guilt. So I stopped preaching about it. Instead I asked a man to come along with me to visit a family who sent their kids to our Sunday School. He watched me connect with these folk and eventually give the gospel. On the way home we talked about what had just happened. We kept doing this until he was the one taking the lead and presenting the gospel. Evangelism started to take off once I moved away from lecturing to coaching.
Whatever evangelism training program you might use… don’t forget to go out and do it together!