For more than 50 years the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has been training believers to share their faith through the Christian Life and Witness Course. The course was originally developed to provide spiritual counselors in Crusade cities.
Early in Mr. Graham’s ministry he could not sleep at night because he was concerned about those who were coming forward at his Crusades in response to the invitation to receive Christ.
He contacted his friend Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators, and asked that Trotman help establish a counseling and follow-up plan for the Crusades. Trotman, Lorne Sanny and Charlie Riggs were instrumental in establishing the first counseling training for Billy Graham Crusades. The training flourished as thousands of people in cities all over the world were trained in the basics of evangelism. As time passed it became evident that God was using the course to bring revival in individual lives and to prepare Christians for evangelism. This same course is still being taught today in preparation for Franklin Graham Festivals. Why has this training had such longevity and been accepted by Christians of every culture? Because it is largely based on Scripture. The principles are timeless.
The course is based on 1 Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (NIV).
The basic premise is that before we can be effective witnesses for Christ we must be walking with Him day by day. The course gives two lessons to help the believer to daily set Christ apart as Lord. The remaining three lessons deal with being ready to share Christ as a way of life.
Lesson One: The Effective Christian Life
When Christians are asked what keeps them from sharing Christ, they often give two reasons: “I don’t know what to say” and “I don’t have the courage to speak.” These two issues fade away when we are effectively walking with God. As we grasp His Word we will know what to say. As we take His hand in a daily walk, we will have the courage to share Him with others.
Lesson Two: The Victorious Christian Life
Why is it that some believers grow in Christ to become mature, well-balanced, fruitful Christians, while others spend most of their lives defeated, frustrated and unproductive? When we determine to walk with God we always face at least two types of problems: outside adversity and the inward struggle between the old nature and the new. Lesson Two explores how to have victory in these two areas.
Lesson Three: The Christian’s Witness
Every believer has an obligation and an opportunity to help others come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Many think evangelism is reserved for pastors or people with the gift of evangelism. Some have the wrong definition of evangelism. They see evangelism as speaking to strangers about Christ, so they rule themselves out. Effective evangelism is simply being an ambassador for Christ. According to a friend of mine who was an ambassador from our country, “An ambassador is someone who makes friends in a foreign land.” Most people who become believers do so because of a relationship with a Christian. Lesson Three teaches the concept of friendship evangelism. It also focuses on the Gospel and how to share it with others.
Lesson Four: The Care of New Believers
When we lead a friend to Christ our job is not over. When a baby is born, the parents do not go on vacation and leave the newborn to take care of itself. Babies require hands-on care. The new believer is a spiritual baby and needs someone to be a mentor and guide. Lesson Four deals with helping a new believer grow in Christ.
Lesson Five: Helping a New Believer Understand God’s Word
This lesson gives practical, transferable methods for Bible study so that new believers can be trained to feed themselves from God’s Word. The material is formatted so that it can be used for personal devotions, one-to-one discipleship or small group discussion.