Evangelism Interview with Eddie Roman: Evangelism Ministry at Church

Me: You’ve mentioned having a regular routine in evangelism. Tell me about some of the other evangelism ministry you are involved with at your church so others can get some ideas about what they can do.

Eddie: One common complaint I hear from evangelists is that there’s no one else at their church who wants to do evangelism with them. That’s how it was for me when I started out, but what I found is that in the act of going and evangelizing and even allowing people to know what you’re doing, after a while there are some others at your church who will become curious. Everyone has a friend or a relative that they want to preach the gospel to, but they don’t know how. You can continue to make a practice of evangelism and also be involved in your church in whatever other way that means. Just fellowship and be part of the body in ways that have nothing to do with evangelism and you will become known as someone who evangelizes. Before you know it, people will come to you with their questions about, “What should I say to my mom or family?” I’ve found over the years, there are plenty of people who would tell me, “I really want to do this, I want to try this, can I come evangelizing with you?” I tell them, “Sure, we’re going out this weekend,” but then I wouldn’t hear from them again for years sometimes. Then later they come again saying, “I still want to do this” and eventually some will come after they get past their fears. I think many don’t evangelize because they don’t have anyone who can give them a living example of what that looks like.

Many don’t evangelize because they don’t have anyone who can give them a living example of what that looks like.

One of the first times I saw anyone evangelize, I was in Las Vegas, hanging out with a friend. His friend was with a local church and would walk down the street and give out tracts to people on the Las Vegas Strip. My friend said, “Come, let’s go with Bobby, he’s crazy, he gives out tracts to people.” I remember I was around age 21 or 22, I was on the Las Vegas Strip with my friend and just following behind this guy named Bobby as he was walking down the street handing out tracts. It was just so funny because it was exciting and crazy, and I had never seen anyone dare to give out a gospel tract before. Yet, that stuck with me for a long time that I saw a guy giving out tracts, and he didn’t get killed, and it was OK, and he was a neat guy. So just that example can have an impact on someone who really wants to preach the gospel but doesn’t know how.

There have been a couple of times that I’ve been open-air preaching and Christians have stopped to listen and watch and they started crying because they were so overwhelmed there was an actual guy speaking the gospel in public. One time I talked to a person, he was going through a lot at school where he had a lot of peer-pressure and was really trying to be a Christian in the midst of a hard environment with a lot of ungodly friends. He just wanted to evangelize but he was scared to death, as most Christians are. Suddenly he had an example in front of him and it overwhelmed him. If we are someone who is able to evangelize, we should just do it as much as we can. Don’t let the fact that no one is coming with us hinder us. Over time, if God wants to use you as an example, He will. There were plenty of years when God wouldn’t have wanted my evangelism as an example. I was mean, and critical, and just kind of rude. Even then, God used evangelism and my dealing with people to sanctify me. God will grow us while we are in the act of serving Him, that includes evangelism.

Me: I remember my first time ever seeing open-air preaching. It was at the Alamo; I walked through and came out at the end to an open plaza where a guy was standing up on a bench with a Bible preaching. I remember it distinctly, I was full of confusion and curiosity, I had never seen this before. It was surprising but amazing.

Me: You said that your church has an evangelism ministry with an Ice Cream Truck. Tell me about that.

Eddie: Two years back some of the Elders in our church noticed that some friends of theirs at another church had an ice cream truck and they used it go around the neighborhood to give out ice cream, invite people to church, and get into gospel conversations. We decided to copy them. We are in San Diego, close to the Tijuana border, so the guys found a Mexican sports energy drink company that was selling a truck. We bought it, stripped the paint, and put our church logo on it and turned it into an ice cream truck. We use it at church events and at events around the community. We have a list of community events in our city. They might have a family movie night, baseball games, car shows, and other things like that. We simply take the truck and go to the event, we put up a sign that says, “free ice cream” and, as you can imagine, a lot of people come over to the truck. We give them ice cream and an invitation to our church with information on it. Some of us will stand outside the truck and get into conversations with people and that is where the gospel is shared.

A funny thing began to happen, as we talked with people in our community, we tell them what church we go to and they will say, “You’re the guys with the ice cream truck.” So, the ice cream truck has better recognition than our church, people know what it is. It’s really interesting, we are in the process of building a new church and we bought some property, and the church is slowly going up. We’ve been driving the ice cream truck around in that community for the past two years. So now, instead of being antagonistic about a building that is going to cause a lot more traffic, the community knows us. The ice cream has paved the way to come in with the church. Instead of streets of gold it’s streets of vanilla. We definitely use the ice cream truck for outreach.

Me: Are there any things that you’ve learned from doing this for so long. What have you changed over time?

Eddie: One thing we’ve learned is that we need someone in the truck who is knowledgeable in evangelism. If we don’t have that, evangelism doesn’t happen. Everyone wants to volunteer to go in the truck and give out ice cream because it’s a fun thing. But naturally, people come and you give them ice cream and an invitation to church then they go away. If someone in the truck isn’t used to striking up a conversation with unbelievers, it doesn’t happen. What’s funny is, we have the same problem many churches have with missions’ trips. You may go down to Mexico to build houses or downtown to do a homeless feeding ministry and a whole lot of really nice things get done; people get food, houses get built, but the gospel is never really preached. People will look back on that day and say, “Yeah, we gave out tons of food, and we evangelized that whole area.” but you didn’t actually evangelize, you just gave out food which was great. Unless the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was shared then evangelism didn’t take place. We can do good things and even get people to know what our church is, but we didn’t share the most critical message with them.

Unless the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was shared then evangelism didn’t take place.

Me: How is that any different than a governmental rescue agency?

Eddie: Or even other religions?! I remember one time I went to an event my city was holding where you took all your computer waste to a school, and they get rid of it for you. I was in the process of unloading my car and some students came up and said, “We want to help you, we’re here to help, is there anything we can do for you?” I said, “That’s nice of you, where are you from?” They responded, “We’re all from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and we’re just going around helping people.” When we help people and do acts of kindness and that’s all we do, we’re no different than the Mormons or anyone who is just being nice. We need to share the gospel and take those opportunities.

Me: I’ve talked to pastors and others involved in that type of thing and they all say, “We are so much more effective when the two work together, evangelism and service. Doing one independent of the other or just doing one without the other is not nearly as effective as when we’re doing them both together.

Eddie: We need to make sure that whatever our efforts of compassion are, whenever we do that in our church that we are sharing the gospel as well. It shouldn’t be one or the other.

Part 1: Profile
Part 2: Defining Success in Evangelism
Part 3: Evangelism Ministry at Church
Part 4: Closing Thoughts and Encouragement

Author: Jon Neifert and Eddie Roman
Posted on September 23 2022