Last year at a staff retreat pastor Phillip Davis and the leadership team of Nations Ford Community Church began to ask God what He wanted them to do to have a greater impact in their southwest Charlotte community. In 2012 the church baptized 71 new believers. Since then they have baptized about 30. But on Easter Sunday they will see another 75 young Christians proclaim their faith through baptism.
“We were doing a lot of things that were meeting needs and changing lives, but we really felt the need to be more intentional about our evangelistic efforts,” Davis said.
Phillip Davis, pastor of Nations Ford Community Church in Charlotte, is leading his congregation through a year-long focus on witnessing.
“So, I began to really pray and seek God for a tool that would be non-threatening so that every member could be involved [in witnessing] rather than just leaving it for a special few who were trained in evangelism.”
Davis was looking for a way to make witnessing part of their culture rather than a church program. “The church is called to evangelize, yet we tend to avoid it with everything within us,” he said.
He discussed with his staff the difference between a “testimony” and a “witness.” “We do a testimony in church about the tests we have gone through and how God has brought us through that test; that becomes our testimony. Our witness is to bear witness to the life, death, burial and resurrection of Christ through our salvation experience.”
Davis and his staff developed a theme for 2013, “Growing from good to great in our witness.”
He began looking for a tool that every person in their congregation could easily use to tell their story of how Christ came into their life, how they accepted Him as Savior and Lord and what difference it has made.
At the Baptist State Convention of N.C. annual meeting in Greensboro last November, Davis met Dennis Nunn, a North Carolina native who teaches his “Every Believer a Witness” seminar in churches across the country. He felt an instant connection with Nunn’s message that every believer can be a witness, so he scheduled a January seminar at Nations Ford church.
Nunn led the four-day event, resulting in about 25 people coming to Christ, and launching the church into a year of emphasis on being a witness. In every worship service, every event and every meeting, “…we started with finding out who told their story to who,” Davis said.
He wants to see his congregation put witnessing into practice on a daily basis and remove the fear factor.
A group from Nations Ford Community Church gets ready to witness at Brook Valley Apartments.
“Every week we are going into the community, and we’re knocking on doors. The church has gotten away from the old traditional ways of personally sharing Christ with people, so we are going back to those things,” Davis said.
The church believes there is a need to get back to the basics of taking their personal witness into the marketplace. The leadership wants to make it simple for people to share their story ‘as they are going.’
Davis said, “The main thing you hear [from members] is the excitement. They didn’t think they could do this. … I’m looking at these shy people who would have never said a word, but they are going out and telling their story. To me, that’s the power of God at work.”
Nations Ford Community Church recently started a Hispanic satellite in their old location.
They are launching another satellite in the south Charlotte Ballantyne community, where the pastor’s son, R.J. Davis, will preach.
Phil Davis said he believes 80 to 90 percent of the congregation can be mobilized to engage in everyday conversations with people who don’t know Christ. “That’s our strategy – to increase the number of people who feel comfortable talking about their faith to others on a daily basis. We want everybody talking to somebody,” he said.
“As a pastor, my dilemma was finding a tool that was simple enough, that was not intimidating to our members … when we broke it down into its simplicity, a light bulb went off – our folks said, Ah ha!”