Major Stephen Court: When did your faith journey begin?
Tim Teakle: When I was a toddler! My six-year-old sister shared her decision to follow Jesus and invited me to do the same. Today, I’m the national director of church experience with Alpha Canada.
Captain Brent Haas: I also made a choice to follow Jesus at a relatively young age, ata decision Sunday. I’m now a corps officer at Encounter Community Church in Halifax, and church planting and church revitalization is the thing that keeps me up at night with excitement.
SC: What is essential preparation for evangelism?
TT: I’ve learned that an evangelistic conversation is a moment of restructuring or rethinking an entire world view. We need to remember that, so we approach the situation with the right heart and empathy. While sometimes it can become a debate or an intellectual sparring session, more often than not, it’s a conversation and one that should be approached with care and respect.
As Darrell Johnson, a well-known pastor, teacher and preacher, says, “Evangelism is joining a conversation the Holy Spirit is already having with another person,” so the best preparation is to spend time listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit and learning to follow his lead. The goal is to listen and love well and authentically. That requires time spent in God’s presence. Beyond that, spend time reading God’s Word. Commit portions of it to memory so that what you say can be rooted in Scripture. A life lived close to Jesus is the best preparation.
BH: Scripture says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). Here are some ways to be prepared:
Allow the Holy Spirit to do what only he can do.
Know your story. One of the most powerful tools you have is your own story of transformation. If you’ve got one minute with someone—you don’t always get 15 minutes—you need to be able to articulate your moment of transformation with God. It’s contagious. It’s like a fire for the hearts of those who are seeking and searching.
Make prayer the foundation. Prayer is not where it stops, but prayer is always where it starts. It is the fuel for the fire. It is plugging in to the same power that raised Christ from the dead and it enables us to be a witness to the flaming blaze in a person’s life.
Seek out formal training. We took half a dozen people to a Salvation Army evangelism training weekend, and in the next year, 32 people in our town came to Jesus.
Build relationships. It’s not about being friendly but being a friend. And with that is story—the story of the gospel, but also sharing your story of being set free by God. Conversation is part of relationship.
TT: The dictionary definition of a conversation is the informal exchange of thoughts or ideas. So, by definition, I can’t “win” a conversation. The goal isn’t just to convert someone butto help them move even one step closer to God. Following Jesus isn’t a purely intellectual pursuit; it’s a loving relationship with a real person. Listen to the stories behind their words and questions, rely on the Holy Spirit and follow his lead.
SC: What advice do you have for Salvationists who want to evangelize their families, friends and neighbours?
TT: Sharing your faith should be seen as an exciting opportunity to open up the most important part of your life to those around you. It’s a joy, honour and privilege, not a task to be completed or a chore to persevere through. Be ready to listen more than you talk and don’t feel like you have to have an answer to every question. Sometimes an honest “I don’t know!” is more helpful than a well-crafted answer to a question that no one asked. That said, it’s called the Great Commission, not the Great Suggestion. We have been commanded by Jesus himself to share our faith with others. It’s not optional!
BH: A few things.
Be intentional. No Salvationist wakes up and says, “I’m not going to evangelize today.”
How many actually wake up and say, “I am going to share Jesus today”?
Be prepared. If you’re intentional and not prepared, that’s dangerous. God’s Word, your story, formal training—be prepared when someone is interested.
Be prayerful. That is how we connect with God. I’m only as powerful as I am plugged in to the source.
I’m not asking Salvationists to do, I’m asking them to be—be intentional, be prepared, be prayerful; be the incarnate presence of God, be the good news of the gospel, be a transforming influence in your community.
Illustration: Emily Pedlar