The recent death of Billy Graham is a good reminder of the importance of leaving not only an earthly legacy but a spiritual one as well. Reaching 2.2 billion people over the span of his lifetime with the message of Jesus Christ, Graham has left an eternal legacy. According to the Grahams’s staff, 3.2 million of those that heard the Gospel message at one of Graham’s crusades or through his media ministry responded with a decision to follow Christ. In addition to being an evangelist, he was also an adviser to several Presidents spanning from Harry Truman to Barack Obama. He would provide spiritual counsel to them and became close friends with several of them. While not everyone is called to be an evangelist, each of us is called to share the message of Jesus Christ. We share some simple ways that you can share your faith and leave your own spiritual legacy like Graham.
Think back to how you received Christ. Whether it was a friend that invited you to church or an outreach event, hearing a testimony, or a miraculous experience, each of us has a story of how we came to know God. It is important to remember your personal spiritual journey as you share your faith with others. Think back on the questions that you had about God and the Christian faith. For some there might have even been a past experience that caused them to not trust organized religion or people in leadership positions. Ask God to use your experience to help reach others. If the person that led you to the Lord is accessible ask them what prompted them to reach out to you. Ask them to pray for you as you begin to share your faith with others.
Graham reflects on being a preacher in Russ Busby’s 2007 book “Billy Graham: God’s Ambassador”
“I’m not a great preacher, and I don’t claim to be a great preacher . . . I’m an ordinary preacher, just communicating the Gospel in the best way I know how.”
Invite someone to church or an outreach event. Many churches host outreach events that are great to invite friends, family, classmates or teammates to. It might be a concert, activity night, or movie event. Sometimes there are even large city-wide evangelistic outreaches like the ones Billy Graham used to speak at that several churches and organizations partner together to host. Ask the pastor or person organizing the event what the program is going to be that way you can explain to your friend that you are inviting what the event is all about. Often when people know what is going to happen they are more inclined to attend. People don’t want to feel tricked into attending an event. A simple way to explain a gospel presentation if there is going to be one is to say, “Mike is going to share about his personal spiritual journey and how he decided to follow God. He is also going to share how others can make a personal decision too.” It can be good to have each person in your small group commit to pray for and invite one person. You can all meet up at the event and sit together.
Graham explains the role of an evangelist as recorded in The Billy Graham Library.
“An evangelist is like a newscaster on television or a journalist writing for a newspaper . . . except that the evangelist’s mission is to tell the Good News that never changes.”
Have a spiritual conversation. In our culture, it can often be easier to keep our conversations at a surface level even with our closest friends. Try to have a spiritual conversation with a friend or family member who doesn’t know the Lord. Rather than try to convert them, seek to understand why they believe what they do. Ask questions like, “how did you come to believe what you do?” “Was there a specific event or circumstance that changed how you view things?” “What is holding you back from accepting Christ?” Throughout the conversation pray for the Holy Spirit to soften the heart of the person and to give you wisdom and understanding. Remember someone is not going to be open if the conversation becomes critical or accusatory. So instead of trying to think of the best answer listen to what the person is saying.
Graham shared in “Billy Graham: God’s Ambassador,” about the message that he shared.
“During all my years as an evangelist, my message has always been the Gospel of Christ. It is not a Western religion, nor is it a message of one culture or political system . . . it is a message of life and hope for all the world.”
Organize an outreach. This is a great thing to do with a group of friends or your small group. First pray and ask God to give you direction. Find a location or venue that is a good size for the group. Ask a speaker to share their testimony and the Gospel. It might be a pastor or friend that has a powerful story of God restoring their life. It might even be the time for you to share your story! It is important that the speaker will resonate with the group you are going to invite. It can be great to have food and music or an activity that the group can do to make everyone feel welcome and connect with others before the message is shared. Afterwards, it is important to follow up with those that attended. It can be good to ask a pastor or small group leader to help with this.