Written by Bob Schindler, Executive Director of CEDE Partners – an Initiative of CEDE Sports
A typical conversation I have with sports ministers:
Me: How did your basketball season go?
Sports Minister: Oh, it was great! We had 43 kids profess Christ at our year end banquet!
Me: Awesome! So, how do you follow-up with those kids and families?
Sports Minister: Well…um…
What follows “Well…,” is quite frankly disturbing. Here are the most common ways that sentence ends:
“…we don’t really do anything.”
“…we give them Bibles.”
“…we pass off their names and phone numbers to our children’s ministry.”
So, what’s the problem with gospel presentations? The lack of follow-up. If you study the history of “altar call” evangelism, you’ll see that this has always been a problem. The research shows that a very low percentage of people who respond to a gospel presentation actually became a regenerated believer in that moment. Billy Graham, widely known as the greatest altar call evangelist ever, has said how elated he would be if just 4-5% of people professing faith at crusades were truly born again. For some people, God genuinely moves in their heart during these events. For others, they are like the “rocky” soil in Mark 4:16-17. Regardless of what has happened in people’s hearts, historically we have not followed-up well to properly cultivate people’s faith.
For those sports ministers who do have a process for following-up, the strategy often looks like this: those doing the following-up have no relationship with the people they are following up with. This is not effective. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone who has done this and they will tell you about the awkwardness of it all.
Follow Up is Key
This is not to say that gospel presentations are bad. They’re not. They can be a valuable tool if used correctly. If you care about discipleship though, you need to follow-up, engage them where they are at spiritually, and when appropriate make efforts to integrate them into your church. Unfortunately, we put far more time in recruiting a big name speaker (or at least an articulate evangelist) and planning an excellent event.
I urge you, don’t be satisfied with counting raised hands and then proclaiming “mission accomplished.” Use gospel presentations wisely. Use them as a catalytic event to begin or further the process of evangelism. And when you follow-up, leverage the relationships (coaches, parents, other kids, etc.) that God has already put in place.
Anyone out there have some best practices in regards to follow-up?