Southwestern student takes evangelism beyond the classroom
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – For the youth at Grace Temple Baptist Church (GTBC), the agenda of activities does not include numerous trips to play laser tag but rather to learn about intentional evangelism by hitting the streets of Dallas to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Matt Rucker, an M.Div. student at Southwestern and youth minister at GTBC, decided to use what he learned from professor Matt Queen’s contemporary evangelism class and take it a step further with his youth.
“Our purpose is just that the Gospel will be shared and that people will come to know Christ and be discipled and that we would reproduce leaders,” Rucker says.
After participating in weekly evangelism encounters through the class, Rucker understands the need to instill a love for sharing the Gospel in middle and high school students.
“In high school, I saw a lot of my friends come to know Christ, and it was because they were still receptive to the Gospel,” Rucker remembers. This receptiveness, Rucker believes, will give his youth prime opportunities to share their faith with friends and classmates.
This past semester, Rucker and his youth brought the Gospel to people in the Oak Cliff community by presenting them with tracts and the Roman Road and even paying transit fares.
“People were just amazed that we paid for their DART,” Rucker says. This ‘servant evangelism’ is a way students can show Jesus’ love in a practical way.” When faced with rejection, Rucker encourages his students to rejoice.
“The only losing opportunity when it comes to sharing your faith is not sharing it at all,” Rucker adds.
Rucker also believes these encounters help people see that the youth are not “the future of the church, but they are the church.” By treating the students as leaders, Rucker hopes they will continue to “(grow) in their faith and start making it their own.”
In just a few months time, Rucker has noticed changes in the youth who have shared their faith. He recalls students who “(were) trying to get out of their comfort zones and share with people they wouldn’t normally share with, even if it meant they would lose their reputation or not be as cool.”
Through these encounters, God has been reaching hearts not only in the community but in the youth group as well. During one Wednesday night service, Rucker remembers, the goal was to teach the youth how to evangelize, but three students actually came to Christ for the first time.
“It’s good to never assume things but to always be open and realize that the ones you’re teaching may be the ones who don’t even know Christ.”
Such examples are evidence of how even a single evangelism encounter can produce a ripple effect. But for Rucker, the size of the youth group is not important.
“We’re more focused on the scriptures and sharing the Gospel every time and taking (the youth) out there to share the Gospel,” Rucker adds.
Such a focus can only mean more opportunities for Gospel-centered encounters.
“I thank God for evangelism, and the fact that He gives us the privilege to be used for His glory,” Rucker says.
The ministers and youth at GTBC do not take that choice lightly and wholeheartedly seek to proclaim the Gospel no matter what the cost.