Reaching Out to Family – Workshop on Evangelizing Those At Home

May 23, 2003 11:54 AM EDT

WALTERS, Okla. – Tony Nickel’s workshop, "Bringing Them Home: Leading Your Unsaved Family Members to Christ," continues to expand its reach to homes nationwide.

Nickel, pastor of three churches, began the program to help Christians regain credibility and harmony with their family members. He said the idea for the workshop came when he saw how many families attended church without one or more of their members.

"The ladies with unbelieving husbands were always in fear of coming to church because their husbands wanted them home," Nickel said. "I also noticed that no one was doing anything about the extended family. We have [evangelism programs such as] CWT, EE and FAITH, but none of these specifically addresses this issue."

The program launched in 1994 when Nickel preached a message that addressed how to witness to unsaved family members.

"At a home prayer group meeting six months later, a church member said she did what I said in the message and led her brother to the Lord," Nickel recalled. "I couldn't believe anyone remembered what I preached six months ago, let alone using it to lead someone to Christ."

Before the program, Nickel said a survey of members at his church indicated nearly one-third admitted living with either an unsaved spouse or child, and others said they had extended family members with whom they have close relationships who have not accepted Jesus as Savior.

To combat the separation, Nickel began by teaching seven lifestyle evangelistic principals.

"The first six principles are testimony," Nickel said. "It all begins with the Christian getting right with God, then reconciling with unsaved family members."

The seventh is showing a way to share the Gospel that comes out of a person's personality.

He said that in the churches where he's presented the program, 98 percent of those attending get to a point of sharing the Gospel.

"The ultimate goal is for the family member to get saved," Nickel said, "but as Paul said, 'How will they get saved if there is no preacher?'"

According to Nickel, there are five ways to go through the program, the ideal way being an eight-week course. There's also the Friday night/Saturday morning sessions, all-day Sunday and the "Bring Them Home" crusade from Sunday through Wednesday, with teaching prior to revival services.

"When people go through this, they walk away saying, 'Why didn't I think of this?'" Nickel said. "It doesn't call us to be perfect, but genuine."

He said his 5-year-old son, who has already made a profession of faith, knows what sin is and knows when his Daddy sins, and tells him.

"When I say, 'You're right, Ethan, I was wrong and I'm sorry,' that satisfies him," Nickel explained. "If we can say we are wrong, people can cope with that, and they have respect for us."

Nickel said he believes a part of the pastoral ministry is to equip the saints for the work of ministry.

"This is a process, not a knock-on-a-door, get saved, come back to church and report type of thing," he noted. "It took me six years to get a lost family member saved."

"All this is is living the way God wants you to live," Nickel said. "Jesus, in Acts 1:8, says we are to be witnesses in Jerusalem [and] Judea, in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the Earth. Our Jerusalem is where we live. How can we say we are doing what Jesus wants us to do if we go out on Monday night and witness, and have lost family members at home?"

By Pauline J.