Burton encourages pastors to equip their congregations for gospel sharing

One in 10 people you share Christ with will be born again.

That’s an encouraging statistic, David Burton said, because if no one’s responding keep trying — eventually they will. The problem is so few people are trying to share their faith, often because they don’t know how, he said.

Preaching from Hebrews 5:11, Burton challenged pastors at the Alabama Baptist State Evangelism Conference on Feb. 26 to do the work of equipping the saints. Mature Christians need to hear solid food from the pulpit — they need to be taught the truths of their faith and be equipped in how to share it, he said.

Evangelistic messages are good and pointing back to the cross is necessary, but people in the pews don’t grow to go out and share their faith if every message is aimed at the unbeliever, said Burton, an evangelist from Jacksonville, Florida. Pastors can get in the rut of “preaching to the choir,” or preaching “milk” Sunday after Sunday when the congregation needs “meat.”

“If you and I preach a salvation message every week, your church is finally going to become very, very anemic,” he said. “They’re not buzzing about Jesus outside the walls of the church. We like to hope they are, but they aren’t.”

Burton told a story about a sermon he preached once about how hell is hot, heaven is sweet and Jesus can save. He had passionately charged the congregation to go out and share their faith that very day. 

The people left energized.

But he got a phone call later that day from a church member who said the message was encouraging and he and his family were excited to go share their faith. But when they got in the car his son said from the back seat, “I’d love to do that. But ask Brother David to show us how.”

“If you’re not equipping your people to do the work of [the] saints you’re missing it,” Burton said.

Sharing intentionally has nothing to do with a person’s energy level, education or personality — it has everything to do with his or her obedience, Burton said. “Pastors, you need to teach and equip the saints to do the work of the ministry out there. They would gather to scatter in the early church days. Teach them how to share the good news on Sunday mornings so that they can do that at home.”

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