Evangelism - Encouraging And Equipping The Local Church
Two weeks ago I wrote a post about My View of Evangelism and I followed it up last week with the first of three deliberate objectives we try to accomplish in every revival, Encouraging the Local Pastor.Today I want to discuss the second thing we purpose to do in every revival, every camp meeting and every church where we are privileged to minister.
The first is
1. In every revival we purpose to encourage the local Pastor.
The second is
2. In every revival we purpose to encourage and equip the local church.
We are blessed and have been blessed for many years to be asked to minister in hundreds of churches all over the USA and in other countries. We have been in small churches and big churches, quiet churches and boisterous churches, new churches and old churches, fervent churches and cold churches, conservative churches and liberal churches. The list goes on and on.
People are different all over and churches are too. Just when we think we have seen it all, we are blown away by some other way of doing things and often that way is better than we have experienced before.
However there is one constant in absolutely every church we go into. That one thing is people are hurting and need encouragement from God's Word and comfort from God's Spirit.
I am willing to concede that as I age and as I experience life and mature in the ministry I am more sensitive toward hurting people and even more perceptive of hurting people but I do not think that is all of it. I believe people are hurting now more than ever.
Trouble and hurt are as certain as life itself. As long as you are alive, your days will contain a boat load of surprises. A lot of those surprises will turn you on your head in a moment's time.
We have preached revivals when folks were in many different forms of trouble, heartache and loss. We have been there within days of funerals, marriage separations, divorce, job loss and other unspeakable tragedies. We have prayed with parents weeping over wayward children, children grieving over aging parents and men and women bound by alcohol, drugs, pornography, gambling and all kinds of other addictions.
We have cried with young parents as they surrendered their new baby back into the hands of God. We understood some of that hurt because we have been those young parents and we have stood in that same place.
We have looked into eyes full of bitterness and hate of people that want desperately to forgive and to be forgiven. They have been used, abused and misused until they are so confused they spend use most of their energy lashing out at and hurting others instead of reaching out for help.
I know that within myself I have nothing to offer any of these hurting people. I have nothing of eternal value to give them. But I know the Word of God speaking and the Spirit of God working are exactly what hurting people need in the middle of their darkest hour. I am called to give them the Word and lead them into the presence of God. God will do the rest!
One time several years ago we were scheduled to preach a revival in a place we had been several times before. The revival had been scheduled for a year. Two weeks before the scheduled revival the Pastor's wife died suddenly. In the midst of offering condolences and comfort to my dear Pastor friend I mentioned I thought it would be best if we postponed revival. I thought my offering to cancel revival would relieve him of the burden of having to cancel me so close to revival.
I thought the last thing in the world he would want or need was a preacher and his family showing up to preach revival. His life long companion was gone. She had been a tremendous helpmate to him in ministry and I figured he would need some time to process all of the events, recover from the shock and then get back into the flow of having church.
My logical and well thought out conclusion could not have been more wrong. He immediately and forcefully let me know that he had not thought about canceling revival for one second. In fact he said that he and his church needed revival right at that moment more than they had in the history of the church.
I called my Pastor and ask him what I should do. He said, "Davy, Jesus came to bind up the brokenhearted. If you have ever had a grand opportunity to fulfill that part of the ministry it is in this situation. If you go in there and help that Pastor and his people in their time of greatest need, they will never forget it and they will always love you."
He was exactly right. We went and we sang and we preached and we cried and we prayed. God gave us one of the best revivals we have ever had. It was a wonderful opportunity to exercise one of my deliberate objectives in revival and do my best to encourage the local church while I am there.
That same thing is duplicated in a dozen ways every week in every church. We walk in knowing nothing of what is going on in people's lives most of the time. But we are determined to be an instrument in the hand of God to serve that congregation heaping helpings of love and encouragement from God's Word.
That is not to say that my preaching is always exactly what every person in the church wants to hear. Sometimes I must give correction from God's Word or preach of judgement to come and even God's final wrath for the sinner. I must warn of the dangers of sin, the pull of the world and the tragedy of compromise.
But when the preaching is over I want those people to know that I love them and I am pulling for them and more importantly that God loves them and is pulling for them. I do not intend to leave them with doom and gloom as I have seen others do but after preaching the doom and gloom I want to point them to the light! God is your help! God is your strength! God is your salvation!
I want to encourage the local church. That is what I feel like this evangelist is called to do.
Thanks for reading.