Bradford loves, leads Southwestern students in evangelism

Elizabeth Bennett
| Oct 19, 2022

Students at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary say Carl Bradford’s “pastor’s heart” and passion for evangelism are evident in the classroom and influences their own zeal to share the Gospel. 

Bradford has served as assistant professor of evangelism at Southwestern Seminary since 2018. Effective Jan. 1, Bradford will occupy the newly established Malcolm R. and Melba McDow Chair of Evangelism in the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions at Southwestern. Through his academic role, he teaches several evangelism-related classes, including Contemporary Evangelism, Theology of Evangelism and Missions, and the Historical Development of the Kerygma and the Gospel, in the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions. 

“Among those classes, I most enjoy Contemporary Evangelism,” Bradford explained, noting one of the core classes for master’s students. The course results in the “greatest transformation of an individual’s passion for evangelism. The students must study evangelism concerning areas such as God’s and man’s role in evangelism, evangelism in the Old and New Testaments, what constitutes the Gospel, and other areas of evangelism study.” 

Students enrolled in the class “are challenged to practice sharing their faith a minimum of 12 times throughout the semester,” he added, noting “The class is a favorite of mine because it has the perfect mixture of biblical theology and practice.” 

Chloe Ward, a Master of Music in Worship Leadership student from Dallas, Texas, is in Bradford’s Contemporary Evangelism class. She said she is “thankful that God used the content and candor of Dr. Bradford’s Contemporary Evangelism course to transform my beliefs and practice of sharing my faith.”

“Dr. Bradford skillfully facilitated class discussions that challenged students to boldly share the Gospel and live according to a biblical, counter-cultural view,” Ward said. “We cannot keep our faith to ourselves out of fear that we may offend. God is a holy King who does not need us, yet He compassionately provided hope for the world through Jesus. His invitation to repent and believe needs to be shared.” 

Ward says since taking the course with Bradford she now “eagerly” prays the Lord would “heighten my awareness of opportunities to bring up Jesus in any setting. The Lord used Contemporary Evangelism to give me a biblical sense of urgency for the Gospel.”

Bradford not only teaches evangelism as an academic discipline, but he lives it out with his students too. He also spearheads the group of Southwestern students at Crossover at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in the summer and he leads a group of students in Everyday Evangelism, which is a ministry opportunity where Southwestern and TBC students go out into various places each week in the Fort Worth community to share the Gospel. 

While Bradford grew up loving the culture and food in his native New Orleans, he came to Fort Worth to evacuate from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Having earned both his Master of Divinity (2011) and Doctor of Philosophy (2018) degrees from Southwestern, he explained there are three reasons he teaches at the seminary, including his own education at the institution. 

"I am a two-time graduate of SWBTS,” Bradford said. “Through a partnership with local churches, I believe in its mission to provide Gospel-centered teaching, strong theological education, and a Great Commission focus.”

He also noted that teaching at Southwestern Seminary “allows me to have a significant influence on students all around the world and those they meet,” and then “the things I lecture on evangelism, theology, discipleship, and other topics have a global reach.”

As a Southwestern alumnus himself, Bradford now teaches what he learned as a student to students knowing the information “has an eternal impact through creating a biblical foundation and evangelistic zeal in the present and future pastors, missionaries, and lay leaders to save a world of sinners,” as he views his service at Southwestern as “a call to obedience to God.” 

Bradford is “committed” to helping students live their callings by being available and assisting students. 

“I make myself available as often as possible, whether in office meetings, going to lunch, or extending an invitation to my family’s home for dinner and conversation,” he explained. “I believe that to have a relationship with our students, we must spend time with them on and off campus. Additionally, I frequently partner with students in ministry. Whether going together evangelizing or helping them develop an evangelistic plan for their church, I desire to assist students in living out the application of the theological disciplines they learn.”

Ben Sutton, from Loveland, Colorado is pursuing his Ph.D. in evangelism at Southwestern and Bradford is his doctoral supervisor. He describes Bradford as “an incredible teacher with a kind heart focused on academics and development of the students.” 

“He has a pastor’s heart,” Sutton added. “He has a desire for lost people to know Jesus and he’s incredibly servant minded. I’ve sat in his office or been on the phone with him countless times asking for ministry advice, life situations, and classroom help. He’s also hilarious. I could not have asked for a better Ph.D. supervisor.”

Bradford also has opportunities to practice the methods taught in his class by leading in evangelism at his congregation, First Baptist Church of Mansfield, Texas. 

“I’ve helped create and maintain an evangelistic passion in the DNA of the church culture through mobilizing church members in evangelism by leading and developing training, helping develop evangelistic teams, conducting local neighborhood evangelism which includes door-to-door evangelism but not limited to this method only, creating and organizing outreach activities in conjunction with food pantries, church events and local community activities,” Bradford said.

The “ultimate goal,” he concluded, “has always been to have every member personally share their faith in the Lord Jesus, wherever they are, with whomever the Lord allows them to meet.”