College is one of the most influential times in a person’s life. As a college minister, I seek to lead my students into a deeper love for Jesus and equip them to share the gospel. My aim is to equip them to share the gospel not only in college, but for the rest of their lives.
However, before I teach them how to share the gospel, I’ve found it important to teach them why we share the gospel. The question then arises: “How can I motivate college students to share the gospel and be bold evangelists?”
A Warning to College Ministers: Remember to Pray
If you are anything like me, I would read the title of this article and immediately jump to the practical takeaways for training college students for evangelism. Yet, if I’m not careful, my heart behind this could very easily become about how I can train my students and what tools I can equip them with to share the gospel.
Prayer is the most important aspect of a college minister’s job.
While teaching your students practical skills is beneficial, remember the words of Matthew 9:37–38: “Then [Jesus] said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’” Prayer is the most important aspect of a college minister’s job.
Do you want to motivate your college students to share the gospel? Pray for them. Pray that the Lord would raise them up into laborers who go into the harvest ready and equipped to toil for the gospel. Psalm 127:1 reminds us that “unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”
Minister, do not overlook prayer in your efforts to motivate college students to share the gospel. In your own strength, you will either become prideful or distressed. If you want your students to start sharing the gospel, start by praying for them.
Motivating Your Students for Evangelism
After praying, there are four practical ways that you can encourage and equip your students to start sharing the gospel.
Teach Them Why Evangelism is Important
As a college minister, it is so important to show your students that we share the gospel because faith comes from hearing the Word of God proclaimed.
Romans 10:14–15 asks, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”
God has allowed the gospel to come to us so that it might flow through us to others. The gospel should not stop with us. Non-Christians come to faith by hearing the gospel. While God is the one who brings people to faith, he has chosen to use your students to proclaim the good news on their campus.
Show Them Their Role in Evangelism
Many students fear “messing up” in evangelism. They misunderstand their role in evangelism and think they need to have all the right answers to engage in spiritual conversations.
Show your students that success in evangelism is not based on fruitfulness but faithfulness.
Remember the words of 1 Corinthians 3:6–7: “Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So, neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” Show your students that success in evangelism is not based on fruitfulness but faithfulness.
Our role is to be faithful in proclaiming the gospel, and God’s role is to provide growth. Celebrate your students when they demonstrate faithfulness and pray for continued open doors for evangelism.
Ask Them to Articulate the Gospel for You
Many students are afraid to share the gospel because they aren’t sure what to say. Your students may very well be believers yet genuinely not know what to say when they share the gospel.
Ask the student, “If someone on your campus came up and asked you, ‘I don’t know what the gospel is. What is it?’ what would you say?” Listen carefully to what the student says and encourage them after they are done. Typically, I will point a student to Ephesians 2:1–10 for a general overview of the gospel. Challenging your students to memorize this passage is beneficial so that they have a passage to reference when sharing.
Model Evangelism for Them
At Campus Outreach, the phrase “more is caught than taught” is thrown around a lot, yet I think it’s an incredible principle taken from 2 Timothy 2:2. In Paul’s letter to Timothy, Paul models discipleship and spiritual multiplication as he invests in Timothy.
After Timothy has watched Paul live the Christian life, he is to go and teach others to do the same. Minister, remember the other believers who have refined your evangelism over the years.
Encourage one of your students to set up lunch with one of their friends and sit in on it. Model for them how to transition into gospel conversation and help equip your student with questions that will be easily replicable down the line when they are sharing on their own. Pray that they would see that evangelism can be quite simple and that you don’t need to be in full-time ministry to share your faith.
Equip College Students to Share the Gospel by Demonstrating the Two Greatest Commandments
In Matthew 22, Jesus lays out the two greatest commandments for his followers. He tells them to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (vv. 37, 39). These two commandments encapsulate the purpose of evangelism.
Remind your students that gospel conversations demonstrate their love for the Lord. When they share the gospel, they are choosing to be faithful to God rather than caring about personal comfort or human approval. Evangelism is a way we love our neighbors. The best way to love our neighbors is to share the gospel with them.
Minister, pray for your flock, show them in Scripture the purpose behind evangelism, address their fears, model it for them, and by God’s grace he will raise up laborers among your students to send out into his harvest field to declare the good news of Christ.