Author Archive for Mark Yoakum

Sharing the Story: Sharing Personal Testimonies in the Group

One of the best ways to really get to know each other in your group is to share a short testimony each Sunday before your group starts.   I have found that people who have studied God’s Word together each week for years really do not know each other.  I have heard incredible testimonies of how people have been saved or blessed.

It is important lay some ground rules.

  1. People are experts on their lives and can share for an hour at the blink of an eye.   Limit them to 3 minutes. Not 5 minutes as that means 10-15 minutes for some people.   You have seen the speed limit sign of 17 MPH.
  2. Start by letting people sign up for the week they are willing to share.
  3. Do not assign people to share as they may not be able or willing.   Let them volunteer.
  4. Keep on Theme.   Start with how they got saved.   Later you can have them share testimonies of how they shared Jesus with someone, how God answered a prayer for them, or how God has worked in a mighty way in their lives.

These 3 minutes each week can become a highlight and will help your class focus on each other.   I have also had members come up and share that they do not have a salvation testimony like the ones they have heard and want to get right with God.   It is exciting when someone hears these stories and gets saved then shares with the class that reason they got saved was because members had shared their stories.

Dr. Mark Yoakum is the Director of Church Ministries for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

How to Build Relationships with People

Several years ago as I was mapping the steps of discipleship and the things that our church did to help people go to the next level in their spiritual walk. I realized that our church did little to help our members build relationships with unchurched people.

This was made even clearer to me when I asked the members of our church to write down the names of unchurched people in our area that we could begin praying for their salvation. Many members confessed that they did not know of anyone locally.    It seems in our churches that we focus on building a strong fellowship in our classes that we forget the main reason God has for our church is to reach out into the lost world and touch lives.   Jesus said that He would make us “Fishers of Men”

Here are four ways to build a relationship with unchurched people:

  1. Invite them to your house for dinner.
  2. Invite them to go to a ball game with you.
  3. Find out what they like to do and go do that with them.
    1. I had a neighbor who loved to fish. He had a boat and He longed for company to go fishing with him.
    2. I went to a college baseball game one day because the guy I was trying to develop a relationship loved college baseball.   It gave us hours to sit and talk.
  4. Have an outdoor BBQ and invite several couples including some that are unchurched.

Dr. Mark Yoakum is the Director of Church Ministries for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. He has served as Minister of Youth, Minister of Music, Minister of Education and Executive Pastor in churches in Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas.

Four Steps in Preparing your Lesson

Glasses on Open BibleWHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? Each week teachers need to prepare a new lesson to help their members live the Gospel of Jesus.   This requires work and focus.

WHAT DO I DO? Here are four steps to help teachers prepare:

  1. Read the entire passage early.  Preferably more than a week ahead, so you can share on this Sunday what you will be looking at next Sunday.  Read chapters in front of the focal Bible passage and chapters after it.
  2. Reread the passage on Sunday afternoon, allowing the passage to speak to your heart, praying through the passage and looking at commentaries on the passage. Try to get to understand these four things about the passage:
    1. When was this passage written?
    2. Who was it written to?
    3. Why was the writer sharing this information to begin with them?
    4. What does this passage have to do with your members and the way they live now?
  3. Discover the main point that applies to your member’s lives. Write your aim.
  4. During the week, look for creative ways to teach the lesson and aspects of these three parts:
    1. Create interest in this passage
    2. Have members examine it
    3. Have members apply it to their daily life.


Dr. Mark Yoakum, Director of Church Ministries, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

Lead Your Members to Live the Gospel

helpWHY DOES THIS MATTER? Each week there are many Sunday School Teachers who study hard to find new information their class members do not know about a Bible passage and they are eager to share that information on Sunday.   While this is commendable, it is not what the role of the teacher should be.   The role of the teacher is to get his or her members to live the Gospel.   Jesus said:

Matthew 28:19-20 (NASB)
19  “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,  20  teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

WHAT DO I DO? A teacher wants a member to live the gospel or to observe all that Christ commanded.   It takes work.  Dr. Leroy Ford, an expert on the teaching/learning environment, stated that “no one will work to accomplish someone else’s goal.”   If that is true, we cannot afford to just tell members of the truths; we have to  help them to discover the truths themselves and apply it to their own lives.   This requires getting the members to engage through questions and activities which require them to think about the passage and how it affects their own lives.


Dr. Mark Yoakum, Director of Church Ministries, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

Praying for the Lost in your Sunday School Class

prayerMost classes each Sunday take time to share prayer requests.   Many of these are organ recitals: i.e.  “Pray for my Kidneys, pray for my liver, pray for my cousin’s heart, pray for my sister’s cousin who is having a hip replacement, etc.”.

I often think we pray harder to keep people out of heaven than to pray for the lost to get them into heaven.

One youth minister had the audacity to have his youth write the names of lost people they wanted to see be saved on the white board and start praying for them by name each week.    One Friday night, the father of one youth came to his son’s fifth-quarter youth activity after the local football game.   He was very persistent that he had to talk to the youth minister right then.  He had been restless and troubled for two weeks and had to get some answers.

As they went off to one of the youth classrooms, they sat down and the father asked why his name was written on the white board.   The youth minister said that for the last three weeks, the students in his son’s class had been praying for the father by name that he might come to know Jesus.

The man exploded. “That explains it.   I have not been able to sleep or concentrate on anything the last couple of weeks.”   In that room that night, the man gave his heart to Jesus.   Prayer changes things.   We are in a spiritual battle over the souls of men.


Dr. Mark Yoakum, Director of Church Ministries, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention