John Sorensen is the president of Evangelism Explosion, the ministry founded by Dr. James D. Kennedy. For fifty years Evangelism Explosion has been training believers how to share their faith and bringing people from unbelief to belief. Their goal is to multiply the number of believers sharing their faith by providing on-the-job evangelism training to people who will go on to train others.
Learn More About Evangelism Explosion: https://evangelismexplosion.org/
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (00:00):
Welcome to the Evangelism Podcast. I’m Daniel King, and I’m excited about telling people about Jesus. Today. I have a very special guest with me, John Sorenson from Evangelism Explosion, one of the greatest evangelistic ministries in the world today. Thank you so much for joining me.
John Sorensen (00:20):
Well, thank you. It’s wonderful to be here, Daniel.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (00:22):
So let’s talk about Evangelism Explosion. I remember when I was young, I was wanting to learn about Evangelism. Well, this is when I was a teenager. Oh, wow. I I got a hold of your green book Oh, sure. Written by Dr. D. James Kennedy,
John Sorensen (00:37):
Dr. D. James Kennedy.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (00:40):
I went through that and I read all the illustrations about how to share your faith. And that really shaped the, the early years of my preaching, trying to lead people to Jesus.
John Sorensen (00:54):
Well, you know, he loved Dr. Kennedy, loved illustrations cuz he was, they said they were like windows. They allowed people to see in. And you know, I can tell you from my own experience that, you know, I’d been around the church my entire life. My dad was a preacher. I can’t even tell you how many sermons I heard in my life. And yet it was for me, right in the middle of the chair illustration, we used a very simple chair illustration that for the first time in my life at 26 years old, I understood it wasn’t merely knowing about Jesus that saved someone. It was putting your trust, like we’re trusting in these chairs we’re setting in now. This is an act that we took that moment of trusting in Christ. That’s when we’re saved. And and boy, what a difference it made in my life. I, I got up the next day and I, I didn’t even feel the same. I I was a totally different person and all from putting my trust in Christ. And, and you know what? I’ve been in that mode since. I’ve been trusting in Jesus firmly only holy and my life has been changed.
That’s awesome. So let’s start at the beginning. Okay. Tell me your testimony and how you came to Christ.
John Sorensen (01:59):
Well, again, my dad was a pastor. I was around the church my entire life. I was in church nine months before I was born every single Sunday. And and did all the kinds of Christian things that people do. I even went to Bible college to be honest with you, not too far from where you are in Joplin, Missouri, at Ozark Bible College. And I know there must have been quite a number of Christian around me, but I wasn’t a Christian. I had no idea how a person knew for sure that they were going to heaven. So for me, it was actually when a, a man asked me those two diagnostic questions, do you know for sure you’re going to heaven? And I said, no, I don’t. I don’t know that for sure. I don’t know anybody that knows that. And then he asked me the second question, suppose you were to stand before God this very night.
And he were to say to you, John, why should I let you into my heaven? What would you say? And I remember Daniel, I thought about it, it was a profound question. I knew it was, and, and I said, but you know what? I think my answer would be, I’m a pretty good person. I try not to do too much wrong. I hope that the good things that I do outweigh the bad things that I do. And that question is so critical, because what it did was allowed me to understand what I was trusting in to get to heaven. Yes. Right. Once he shared the gospel with me, because he had asked me that question, he was able to say, now, a few minutes ago you talked about a particular person. In your answer, it was, I’m a pretty good person and I try not to do too much wrong.
And I hope the good there was an I you kept, it’s you, you have a savior. His name is John <laugh>. What I’m telling you is there’s a savior named Jesus, and you need to put your trust in him. And so for me, that day, it, it changed my life. And so eventually God called me into becoming part of that ministry. Now, Daniel, I would’ve told you if ever there was a person that would never have qualified as a witness for Jesus Christ, I’d have been on that list. You know, I mean, I was sure I couldn’t do it. I had tried. And every time I had tried, I just made the person mad that I was talking to, you know, I felt like I was gifted at taking a normal person and turning them into somebody that was just hopping mad, you know, with only a few minutes.
And, and yet it was through EE that I learned that I can actually share the gospel with others. And so that same experience that you had and by the way, I think most Christians are in this boat. You know, I think I I’ve seen all kinds of statistics and some as high as 96% of people who bear the name of Jesus have never one time led another person to Jesus. Maybe they tried it worked out badly the first couple times, so they quit trying. And I’ve heard all kinds of reasons that Christians give. They’re afraid. Some say, well, you know what? I’m gonna goof it up for the next person. You know, I’m gonna, if if I try and then I’m gonna mess it up, and then I’ll just push ’em away. I won’t actually bring them toward, well, here’s the thing. This is the truth.
We as Christians actually can participate in leading our friends, our relatives, our work associates, our neighbors, and yes, even strangers that we meet, we can be part of, of sharing the gospel and leading others to Christ. And, and once we do it, to be honest with you, I can tell you that very first time that I was part of seeing, I can even tell you the guy’s name, I could describe the night you know, all the things about it. It was such an impactful moment in my life when God used me to lead someone else to Jesus Christ. And wow, that changed everything, you know? And in many ways, I would tell you, the ministry of EE has changed my life a number of times. The first in me coming to Christ, obviously that was a pretty big change. Secondly, in leading others to Christ, I never thought I could do that. And then thirdly, I found there’s even something more fun than leading people to Jesus until you might say there’s nothing more fun. Well, there actually is, there’s one thing more fun. And that’s training other people how to do that <laugh>. And when you start having spiritual grandchildren, spiritual great-grandchildren, when somebody, and again, I’ll tell you the, I can tell you the first time that my first trainee calls me up and says, I just let somebody to Jesus and listening to her excitement. And by
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (06:08):
The way, that sense joy that
John Sorensen (06:09):
Comes it, it is joy. And, and every single Christmas I get a letter from Marge. She was my very first trainee, her and another gal named Gwen. But anyway, every Christmas I get a letter and Marge to tells me every single person she has led to Christ this past year. Wow. And I get the joy of being, it’s, it’s like over 400 people at this point that I get to be part of, even though it was Marge who led
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (06:31):
Him to, can I share with you a testimony? So Sure. I have a son. His name is Caleb. He’s 13 years old. He just became a teenager. So we’re praying for wisdom, how to raise a teenager. Well on Saturday of this week, he went with one of my friends, his name is, is Ron Hood. And, and, and Ron has a great heart for evangelism. He took a, a truck, like a, like a trailer, and he wrapped it and it says
John Sorensen (07:01):
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (07:02):
Are you going to heaven? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, two questions, reveal the answer. Yeah. And then he asks the same two diagnostic questions that someone asked you. And, and so anyways circuit writers from YWAM came to Tulsa and they’re doing some outreaches. And they were doing an outreach. And so my friend Ron Hood, he brought his truck to their outreach. And my son loves hanging out with his son. And so my son was sitting there in the truck asking every person who came by that, that two diagnostic questions. Awesome. And he was so excited. My wife was asking him, you know, what’d you learn today? He says, I can be an evangelist just like my dad. Dad is so and so. I’m so proud of him for being out there, sharing his faith. Yeah. Using those two diagnostic questions. Yeah. Which are a very simple method anyone can ask. And it just opens up a conversation, and then you can start to share the
John Sorensen (07:54):
Gospel. Amen. And they’re really not that hard to ask. And you know, we, we’ve got actually a number of what we would call questionnaires, questions you can put in front of those questions that, that make it very easy to have a ver just a regular normal conversation with a person that you meet. Turn that into a spiritual conversation through the use of just some basic questions like we learned. You know, you’re talking to somebody and, and they talk, they’re talking about their life. How’s your life going? What do you do? It’s very easy for you to say at some point in the conversation, well, it sounds like your, your life’s going pretty good. Or maybe you would say the opposite. You know, whatever it is you, whatever it is. And then you can say, you know what, I, I’m gonna ask you a kind of a funny question.
Scale one to 10, if you had to quantify your life, if 10 were the very best life ever, and one were the, the the worst life ever, where are you at today? And people don’t have any trouble answering the questions. I commonly hear 5, 6, 7. And you’re able to say, now can you tell me some of the things that make up that? Why is it a five or why is it a six? And they’ll tell you, usually they’re temporal that they mentioned, I’ve got a good job, you know, I’ve got this. I I have, I live in a nice house, you know, I’ve got a good girlfriend or whatever that happens to be. Yeah. But usually those are temp and you can say, but what that allows you to do now is you’ve started a conversation where now you can share a little of your testimony.
You can say, you know what the truth is, and think about this. It’s true. Before you came to Christ, you, you were a lower number than you are now. That, that you’re a Christian, whatever that is. And I can say, honestly, I used to be a one, but now that I, I know a guy shared with me this great news, I’m now a 10 every day. I know that sounds braggadocious, but it’s the truth. I used to be a one, now I’m a 10. Would you like to hear how that happened? I’ve never had somebody say, no, I’ve never, not one time. Wow. And so then I go, well, you know what, here’s what he shared with me. Five key things. And this is what you learned when you’re reading that green padded book. Yeah. There are five key. And you know, most people would say, traditionally, the gospel contains four things that, that really like it or not.
It’s, it’s truth that you have to hear and understand, respond to. Right. The, the gospel, these aren’t ee things. These are ju this is the gospel that everyone since Jesus’s ascension have agreed these four things. You have to understand where we are as humans. Right. The Bible says something very particular about us. It’s not all that complimentary. We’re sinners. We have all broken our relationship with God. Right. We’ve created this distance and divide through a thing called sin. You have to understand that now, you know, many people would agree they’re sinners. They don’t understand the scope of it, though they don’t get the degree in which they’re a sinner. The, the, the second thing that you would really need to understand is what’s God re God’s reaction to that? How does he feel about sin? Can’t he just push it under the carpet or something?
Well, no. Yeah. The very nature of God tells the city abor sin. And, and he, he, his his eyes are too holy to even look upon it. So that, that’s a real problem for us. On one hand, God loves us, but on the other hand, he cannot stand us sin. So what did he do? Well that leads us to the person of Jesus Christ, who he is and what he did. He is the God man. And what did he do? He came from heaven to earth. He lived an absolutely perfect life. He traded places with me. Right. This is the great substitute. And, and so that now I can be right before an all holy God, he took on my sin and died as if it were his own. It wasn’t his, but, and, and made a way for me to be right before God.
And then that leads us to the very final bit of that. If that’s all true, and it is, how do you get it? There’s, there has to be a moment when you appropriate that to yourself. And we understand from scripture that that’s called faith. And that’s that thing we were talking about when I put my trust in Jesus. That’s, that’s saving faith right now in ee we add a fifth item to that so as to not have to start the conversation on the bad news. You’re a center. You know, you can go try that right now. Go out on the street and just up to people and you are in a center, and you’re gonna find that some
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (11:56):
People, it’s a good way to start an argument.
John Sorensen (11:57):
That’s, it’s a good way to start an argument if you don’t wanna start an argument now, it’s, it’s, it’s true, by the way. It’s not an untruth. Instead start with the fact that heaven’s an absolutely free gift and it’s something that God wants to give to you. And so we start the conversation on heaven is an absolutely. So I was able to say, even in that first conversation, there are five things that I learned about how a person can know for sure. This is what changed my life from a, a one to a 10 was understanding these five things. And I’d say, say this, Daniel, you know, I’m, I am an extreme introvert, so I don’t your viewers, I, I don’t know. I’m sure that’s not what they think. It’s the absolute truth given the opportunity. I’ll go into a room and read a book every time by myself. So if God
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (12:43):
Can use an introvert like you That’s right. He can use anyway.
John Sorensen (12:45):
And that’s the truth. And, and, but it’s turned into one of the greatest joys of my life. And so I’ve decided to be different because I love seeing people come to know Jesus. And it’s become so such a an addiction for me. <Laugh> using that word in the positive way God has so invaded my life is to understand I can be used by him, he will he’ll use me. And that I get this immense joy of seeing people’s lives change. And there is no greater miracle. People love miracles. There’s no greater miracle than watching somebody go from death to life right in front of you. And I mean to tell you it’ll change some things.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (13:27):
Amen. And so one of the strengths of evangelism explosion is that you are training people how to share their faith. Yeah. Talk to me about that process and some of the results that you’ve seen. Yeah. From really equipping introverts and people who have never shared their faith before. How do you take someone who doesn’t know how to share their faith and and help them become competent Yeah. At talking to people about
John Sorensen (13:54):
Jesus? Well, the simple answer is through mentoring. You know, the model of EE is a one-on-one or a one on two discipleship model. EE is actually not an evangelism program. It’s a discipleship program where we’re discipling people in how to share their faith. Right. And so, if you are my training in ee, we’d go out together sometimes 7, 8, 9, 10 times, depending on which tool or product that we used with ee. But, but let’s say it seven times. And I can tell you, I’ve watched this happen thousands of times. The first time you don’t say anything, you know, I’ve taught you this basic outline that I just shared with you, grace, man, God, Christ, faith. And I’ve said to you, now, watch how I use that. Watch how I start the conversation. Just watch. And so this time you don’t actually have to say anything. We go out, we meet somebody, we have a conversation.
Maybe we’ve invited a friend to come join us for coffee. And and you watch how this happens. So then the next time I say, now Daniel, you saw what I did. Probably the shortest section that we did was on the, on God. It’s, it only takes about 30 seconds to say it. You, I’ve, I’ve shared with you what it is, the Bible verses you’ve learned them, the story you learned, the two main points that he’s loving. But also just, you know what, when we come to that spot, I’m gonna just say, you know what this comes into sharper focus when we understand what the Bible says about God. Now Daniel, would you mind sharing what it is that we know about God? And then you are just going to give it a go. And if you mess up, or if you start getting to the point where you forget something, just still look at me and smile and I’ll pick it back up and, and I’ll tell you what the nick, you do that.
Then the next time I say, you know what, just keep going. Go on into Christ and go on into faith. And, and I’m telling you that by about the fourth or the fifth time that we went out together in an incredibly safe way, because never were you put on the spot if you messed up, you just looked at me and smiled and, and I just picked it back up. Little by little, you would’ve picked up all of the pieces and learned to have that conversation. And so usually it happens around the fifth or sixth or seventh time, a person will look at me and go, I don’t need your help. I got this. I can do this. And so that’s the cool thing. And if I’ve given it to you in an understandable enough way, you can then turn around and pass it on to the next guy. And for us, this is called spiritual multiplication. And it’s the greatest joy that we as Christians get to have this side of heaven.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (16:14):
And now you’ve multiplied all over the world mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and, and you have evangelism, explosion people. And how many countries now? Well, we
John Sorensen (16:22):
Were the first Christian ministry to be in every single nation of the Earths Wow. Back in 1996. And we still are. And we have about 150 nations or so on earth that we are substantially working in every day. And the rest we do things in, but, you know, not as often or whatnot. But so he’s a and we’re in over 400 different denominations of the church. So that’s the, I love that the church can agree on the gospel and can can even go out together. We were just, we just did an event in Santa Ana, California, and I wanna say there were 12 different denominations that were there. And, you know, they’ve decided they’re gonna do their evangelism training together as a group, all these different churches and denominations showing up, learning to share the gospel and going out together.
And I just think that’s a hoot. I I love seeing that and kind of unity happen around the gospel. But yeah, so ee works all over the world, and we trained this past year just at 2 million people to be witnesses for Christ. Wow. Just at 2 million little over 900,000 children, ages four or fourth grade, fifth grade, sixth grade, 9, 10, 11, somewhere in that range. And then about 1.1 million adults that we trained how to share the gospel. And and they went out. And in the process of going out, led 17 million people to Christ. Now here’s the thing. I cannot qualify, you know, you learned e ago use it all the time. That’s nowhere in my number. I I, there’s nowhere I can account Yeah. For people that were trained in the past, you know, that use it in their life, but you know, aren’t in some method to give it report.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (18:03):
Yeah. And at my home church, a victory church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, it’s an independent, charismatic church. We have an EE group. They go out and they tell people about Jesus. They love that. And just go into the apartment complexes nearby and knock on the door and, and, and start witnessing to people as
John Sorensen (18:19):
We Yeah. No, I’ve actually heard of, of this church, and I’ve heard stories about what God’s done through y’all for years and for a long time. And I praise God for you. Yeah. Thank you.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (18:30):
Yeah. So I have a question. You know, times are changing very quickly. Yeah. And today’s generation still deals with the sin problem, but they’re asking different questions than we’re asked 50 years. Yeah. Or even 20 years ago. How are you navigating Yeah. Changing culture and, and changing media and the, the different landscapes of, of how to share the gospel.
John Sorensen (18:55):
Now, firstly, I’m gonna say this quickly, the gospel hasn’t changed and people haven’t changed. The lost really haven’t changed. Now they’re asking different questions, which is what a very good, good word that you said, lost are still lost. The gospel still is the only method by which lost people get saved. But period, full stop. And Jesus, when he stood on that hill in Galilee, looking out at all of the generations and all the lives, the, the people groups and the ages that would come, he’s the one that prescribed this idea to us. Right? And so we know it’s relevant, we know it’s valid. Now, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do everything in our power to be as culturally relevant as we can possibly be. And so, to answer your question, we’ve changed, we have a number of tools that we’ve developed through time. XE is a, a for, for generation X and Y instead of it being more of a legal argument which is kind of like what I’d heard, that’s far more of a relational argument based on John 10, 10, Jesus saying, I’ve come that you may have life to the full.
What does that mean to have abundant life? And what is it that stops us from having that? Well, we know that that’s when we have broken this relationship with God. And of course that’s called sin in, in, in, but we don’t talk about sin in the same way. Now I will tell you this, we’re in the process right now of developing a new tool for high school age today, and that’s forcing us to have conversation about identity and about, you know, all things that we’ve just never had to talk about in the past before. But that being said, please, anyone listening, please, please believe this is true when I’m telling you there’s an openness to the gospel today that we’ve never seen in 60 years of ministry. And so I would encourage people, do not believe anybody who tells you it can’t be done today. We’ve seen so in the history of ee you know, in the seventies, and you’ve gone out to do questionnaires out on the street, and, and typically if you would’ve approached 10 people, one of those 10 would let you share the gospel. This is the seventies. Do you know what it is today? It’s six out of 10 today. Wow. On the street.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (21:05):
And so that’s showing more openness in today’s generation towards
John Sorensen (21:09):
Than has ever been in the last 60 years of this ministry. And, and, you know, and we’ve proven that not just in places like the Southeast in America, we’ve proven that in, in, in the northeast. We’ve proven that way out west in the, in the southwest west and in the northwest part of the United States. We’ve done these Equiped America events all over the United States. That number rings true. We, we actually did a full on study with lifeway to see if it was just our experience, or if it was, if, if a researcher could find, and you know what they found? Six out of 10 Americans are open hearing the gospel. Wow. At 5.1% from an absolute stranger. They’re willing to hear it. But here’s the last thing that I, I, I would encourage Christians to understand. When we put the, i, the the idea into that study about them searching it out on the internet and reading a website, the, the interest in evangelism went down dramatically.
So it is this one-on-one, or it’s this personal explanation. The other thing that was in the study that really surprised us was that four out of the 10 that had come to Christ said they never would’ve sought it if somebody wouldn’t have approached them. That the point being, it was so critical that a friend started that conversation. Now, look, you, you can either believe what I said or not. It’s up to you if you’re willing to try it. All you have to do is to go up to 10 of your friends and ask this question. I just heard this crazy person today who said, six outta 10 people are open to having a spiritual conversation. And I, I just have to tell you as your friend, I, I’m, I’m a believer, but I’ve never thought to ask you if you want to have a conversation about spiritual things, are, are you open to that?
Just ask that question. And if you find that none of your friends are, well then, you know, I was wrong. If you’re seeing what, what we were seeing all across the country, you’re gonna see six of your friends go, you know what? I really would like to have that conversation. Now. Listen, ask good questions like your son was doing, Caleb, way to go ask questions and listen to their answers and then build on what it is that you’ve heard. And, and the most important thing is, as a believer, please be ready to share some of the things that are going on in your life that is why you are so in love with following God. You know, be willing to share testimony about what God’s doing in your life and, and how he’s given you joy and how he’s given you peace, and how he’s given you patience and, and you know, all these things which he promised he’d give you. By the way, if you don’t have those, you need to call us. And we’re gonna help you come to know Jesus. Because if you have Jesus in your life, he’s given you amazing things that you can talk about as you share your faith.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (24:01):
That’s awesome. Well, if someone is listening and they want to learn more from some of the resources that you have, or they want to get trained by one of the evangel evangelism explosion trainers, or maybe even to help support your ministry, what is your website? How can they access more information about
John Sorensen (24:22):
It? Well, that’s, that’s awesome. So if you come to evangelism explosion.org you’ll find all of our training tools and you’ll find when they, those trainings are, and you can kind of let us know you’re interested and we’ll connect with you. The, the study that I mentioned, we put on a website called equip america.org. So if you go to that, go down to the bottom, you’ll see the live way study. You can download the whole study and read it for yourself. Every single question we ask and what the answers were. And so, you know, and then every day I put tools up on a, a, another, a third website I’ll mention called Share life.today, share life.today. Every day I put tools up there like this week we’re focused on memorizing God’s word. Well, what would that look like? And how would you share that with a friend? Something like that. And so we’re constantly putting tips up there, just little encouragements about how you can share your faith. And so people can use those absolutely free. And our, we get joy when we see Christians become bold witnesses for Jesus.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (25:21):
That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much for being on the Evangelism Podcast.
John Sorensen (25:25):
It is my joy. Thanks for doing the podcast.