A Surprising Salvation - Dare 2 Share
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Helping youth leaders empower
students to reach their world.

A Surprising Salvation

How God showed me to never assume someone is saved.



I’m a senior pastor, and I just led my church’s youth director to Christ in Starbucks.

What?! Yep, you read that right. And you’re likely as surprised as I was. Here’s the story:

It was a typical Monday morning. I was trying to get my daughter ready for school and out the door, while simultaneously dreaming about hiding from everyone with just a stack of books. (Following most Sundays, my brain is mush and I’m peopled out, so I sneak away to get a jump on the next week’s message.)

But God had other plans. Bill, our director of NextGen ministries, messaged me to ask if we could grab a cup of coffee. I sighed—not really wanting any meetings or to hear of any church drama issues—but I love the guy, so I said “Sure.” He followed up by letting me know it wasn’t church-related but more of a personal nature. I pulled into Starbucks and grabbed my usual—a white-chocolate mocha.

We exchanged small talk about the weekend, and then Bill changed the topic with one shocking statement:

I don’t think I’m saved.

What’s Next

Once my brain restarted after this shocking statement, we began an important conversation about the Gospel that ended with me asking the question: What are you going to do about this?

That Monday morning at Starbucks, Bill trusted in Christ! For the first time, he had security in his relationship with Jesus. What a celebration!

But this moment led to another question—what will we do with what just happened? Do we tell the church? Will they lose confidence in his leadership? In mine? There were a lot of fears to process, but the bottom line was we needed to share the full story of what had transpired in Bill’s life and trust God with the results. After all, His Word says in Psalm 28:7:

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me.

We decided Bill should be baptized the following week. As Sunday arrived, people knew there was a baptism, but they hadn’t been told who was being baptized. Bill began by publicly sharing the events surrounding his realization that he was religious but didn’t have a saving relationship with Christ—until our conversation.

The response was full of amens and applause. Then, Bill was baptized, and his son Zek prayed over him. The message that morning focused on not just acting and looking the part on the outside but making sure we’re truly followers of Christ.

When I gave the Gospel invitation, a man in his 60s came up and said: “You know why I’m here—my faith hasn’t been real.” Since that Sunday, a 15-year-old who was coming to church to please his grandparents was led to Christ, another church member was baptized in a creek, seven more want to be baptized, and eleven want to become members. God has been so faithful and good throughout this journey!

What have I learned and observed walking through all of this?

1. Never assume.

Just because someone is in church, whether in the pew or serving in leadership, doesn’t mean that they know Christ as their Savior. Don’t hesitate to ask people the simple question of how they came to place their faith in Christ.

2. Be real

Be a real church and an authentic person. No one wants the polished, fake version except for those who are fake themselves and want to blend in. Be a church that shares the realness of the Gospel and how it changes lives. Be a church that celebrates and cries together.

3. Be obedient.

Is it always easy? No, but it’s always right and always honors God. We knew the Lord wanted us to share the truth, but we weren’t sure how it would go. Follow where God leads. As it says in Deuteronomy 13:4:

It is the Lord your God you must follow, and Him you must revere. Keep His commands and obey Him; serve Him and hold fast to Him.

4. Stay focused on the Gospel.

Nothing else you talk about will change a life as much as the Gospel will. The devil will try to distract you from the Gospel, discourage you about the power of the Gospel, and destroy your attempts to rely on the Gospel. Remember, Jesus said:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10

5. Share the Gospel constantly

If you have an opportunity to teach or preach and don’t include the incredible life-changing message of the Gospel, you’ve missed an incredible opportunity—even if you know all the people and believe they’re saved. Remember lesson number one? Never assume. I know I won’t!

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