HAMILTON, Ala. — What happens when the pastor brings his homework to church? What if that homework assignment involves evangelism?
Shane Stidham, pastor of Fulton Bridge Baptist Church, Hamilton, Alabama, knew that his first reading assignment as a Leavell College student and a Caskey Center scholarship recipient was something his church members needed to hear, as well.
The assignment was William Fay’s book, “Share Jesus Without Fear.” The book approaches evangelism by starting conversations with five specific questions that move the conversation toward the gospel.
“It is such an easy way to share,” Stidham said.
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s Caskey Center provides full-tuition scholarships for qualified students who serve on a church staff. The scholarship requires that students share the gospel weekly. As Stidham led his members to read the book and use Fay’s method, members saw more than a dozen people come to faith in Christ in one year. In the town of 7,000, the church grew from about 55 on Sunday mornings to around 180 in worship.
“I believe with all my heart that our faithfulness to share Jesus without fear is the reason that God has blessed our church in such a powerful way,” Stidham said.
While the church had long been active in the community through its food distribution program and other ministries, its evangelistic outreach needed a boost. Using Fay’s approach proved effective.
“I can’t explain what this little-bitty book has done for us,” Stidham said. “It’s been very beneficial to us.”
Stidham said the Caskey program made him accountable for sharing the gospel weekly, but also equipped him with a “great program” for doing so. Serving in his first church as pastor, Stidham praised Dr. Blake Newsom, Caskey Center Director and associate professor of expository preaching, for Newsom’s encouragement and guidance to him as a new pastor.
A trained cardiac and vascular ultrasound technician, Stidham serves bi-vocationally but takes every opportunity to build relationships for the gospel. While being a pastor was not necessarily part of his plans years ago, Stidham said he can’t think of doing anything else. Stidham is quick to credit his wife Kim for her contributions to the church and to every part of his ministry.
“I went to a place where I didn’t think I could stay,” Stidham said he tells his congregation. “Now I stay at a place I don’t think I can leave. God has been good to us. I can’t even start to explain it.”