A while back I wrote the following about evangelizing.
I am always thrilled and amazed that Pastors keep calling and asking us into their churches to minister to their people. What an awesome privilege to preach the Word of God. It is also a privilege and honor to be entrusted with the responsibility of ministering in another man's pulpit.
That paragraph set me to thinking. We really do love what we do. I love to preach the Word of God. We love to sing. We love to minister the love of God to people exactly where they are with the message of the Gospel. I love to share good news with folks that are constantly bombarded with bad news.
They say "If you love what you do then you never really work a day in your life." I do not know who "they" are and "they" might have been making a slight exaggeration but I get the point.
I spent quite a few years in secular employment.
I have worked in various forms of construction both commercial and residential.
I have worked in two different GM factories for a total of 8 years. In one GM factory I worked the majority of the time as a job setter and operator on high speed punch presses.
In the second GM factory I worked on various assembly lines where we made Chevy Blazers, GMC Envoys and Oldsmobile Bravadas. Most of my years there were spent in tire and wheel, final assembly and the interior trim department.
I also worked at another small factory, tried my had at selling insurance (Became totally convinced I am NOT a salesman), as a trim carpenter and one of my favorite jobs but also lowest paying jobs was working at Kmart.
Through most of those years I also worked on the side doing residential electric work and also other construction.
My high school job was in the kitchen of a nursing home. The first few months of married life I was a laborer for a carpet layer and an electrical contractor before I was hired at GM.
I mostly enjoyed going to work. I was thankful for every day I had a place to go and do something that somebody felt was worth paying me to do. We have had some thin times when jobs were hard to find and I was especially thankful to be working no matter how low the pay was.
Many of those years I worked a lot of hours each week. Most of the time I was working two jobs or working one job and doing side work as well. For one thing, we needed the money to pay the bills and keep our family afloat. In addition to that, it was always satisfying to feel tired at the end of a long day or at the end of an 80 hour week and know that I had accomplished something useful AND I was providing for my family too.
But in the end, it was just work. These were just jobs. They provided means for us to live and to give. I was thankful to God for every day I could work. Kelly Jo and I knelt down at the couch many times early in the morning and thanked God for a job to go to while asking him to help me with specific challenges I was facing on the job at the time. But they were just jobs, a means to an end.
When the call came from Wichita asking me to leave GM and Pastor a church I thought it over about two minutes. In some ways it was the hardest decision I had ever made but I KNEW I must go. I would not have went without the Lord's direction but I sensed His direction from that first moment.
I gave that wonderful little church my very best. I may not have been a great Pastor, I will leave that determination to somebody else, but I intended to be the very best Pastor I could be. I loved it and lived it from day one. Those years were not without trial and test but the overwhelming joy of working for God in the pastorate far outweighed all of the challenges.
When the door opened for us to enter evangelism nearly four years later in January 2003, we gave that all we had too. For over fifteen plus years we have had the awesome privilege to preach revivals all over the USA and in other countries. Pastors have invited us to their churches and allowed us the opportunity to sing and preach the everlasting Gospel to their people. We count that an amazing honor.
God has blessed us to work with some of the best men in the world. We have preached for some of the best Pastors in the world and worked right along side awesome Missionaries and tremendous Evangelists. God has done our family a great kindness by surrounding us with great Godly men.
We have watched God save people right out of their sin, sanctify, fill with the Holy Ghost, heal and encourage. We have witnessed as He changed lives, restored marriages, renewed relationships, brought children back home and revitalized congregations.
The Lord has allowed us to be a part in the lives of many wonderful saints of God. We have married them, dedicated their babies and walked beside them as they laid their loved ones in the ground. We have cried with them at the hospital, prayed them through at the jail house and shouted the victory with them in the church house.
What a marvelous, wonderful, phenomenal vocation!
Is evangelism work? Is what we do tiring? Is it hard?
Physically, these fifteen plus years have been the hardest in my life. But you know what "they" say. No, not "they", I say, IF you love what you do then you never really work a day in your life.
We love what God has given us to do that much. We really do love it. I honestly want to be faithful in evangelism. There is no sense giving our lives to something and then NOT being effective now and in the long term. May He help us to do it faithfully and to do it well.
What Does Being A Faithful and Effective Evangelist Look Like?
Our family has operated with three deliberate objectives. There are three things that we purpose to do in every revival, every camp meeting, every tent revival and every church where we minister in any capacity. These three things do not always happen in a particular order but when we leave a revival we sincerely want to see them accomplished.
1. In every revival we purpose to encourage the local Pastor.
Pastoring a church is hard work. It is a difficult and often thankless task. Even though the Pastor is often surrounded by people, his job can be very lonely. We see it as part of our duties as an evangelist to come along beside him and be an encouragement.
We need Pastors. I know some folks that do not believe they need a Pastor but they are wrong about that. God gave Pastors the responsibility to teach us His Word and to shepherd our souls. God gave some Pastors! If God gave them then I need them.
I would not be in the ministry and probably would not be saved if it were not for my faithful Pastor, Bro. Bennie Sutherland. Thank God that he preached the Word of God without fear or favor and poured in the right amount of law and grace when I needed it.
Also there would not be local churches for me to preach in and for us to sing in if it were not for God called Pastors that give their lives to reach souls and keep churches afloat. So it is fair and just to say that I would not have an a ministry as an evangelist if it were not for local Pastors all over the USA. Thank God for the local Pastors.
We have some hard and fast rules when it comes to conducting ourselves properly when it concerns Pastors of churches where we are preaching. You might say it is our ethical frame work.
The Pastor is the Pastor. I am not the Pastor. I follow the Pastor's lead. Although I have a great working relationship with Pastors and I am free to "obey God" in their churches, I purpose to work within the bounds of his authority and not mine own.
We do not usurp the Pastor's authority in the services or out of church. We are under his authority and I often communicate that to the church from the pulpit. I do not only say it, we model our genuine submission to his authority in front of his folks.
We do not disrespect the local Pastor. In fact we do our best to elevate him in the eyes of his people. We constantly affirm him and his leadership in the local church.
We do not slam the local Pastor while we are there or after we leave. There may be things that I think I would do differently if I were the Pastor but I am not the Pastor and my duty is to keep my big mouth shut. We take that responsibility very seriously.
Many Pastors are bi-vocational and are not available during the day but we spend time with the local Pastor when possible and befriend him and his family. Many of them desire and even need the friendship of an evangelist and we are determined to show ourselves friendly.
Encouraging the Pastor extends to being an encouragement to his wife and his children. People have been so kind to Odie and we intend to pay that kindness forward to the kids of Pastors in every church where we minister.
This is only one facet of my vision and approach to evangelism but it is a very important part of it. Pastors are not perfect and we all know that. But God gave them to us for our own good. Encouraging them on purpose is a large part of what evangelists or at least this evangelist is called to do.
In every revival we purpose to encourage the local Pastor.
That is one of the three things we purpose to deliberately accomplish in every revival. The second is
2. In every revival we purpose to encourage 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.
Keep that in mind. We know how we would do it. We know how it has always been done. We know what works. But God has proven to me over and over that there are lots of things I do NOT know.
There are as many different ways of "having" church as there are churches. 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 people that are hurting and even more perceptive of people that are hurting 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 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 offer 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. No, 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.
In every revival we purpose to encourage the local Pastor.
In every revival we purpose to encourage the local church.
Those are two of the things we purpose to do in every revival, every camp meeting and every church where we are privileged to minister. The third is
3. In every revival we purpose to give the Gospel message to the lost.
As I mentioned earlier these three things that we purpose to do in every revival do not always happen in a particular order but when we leave a revival we sincerely want to see them accomplished. I earnestly desire to be an encouragement to the local Pastor AND to the local church. I want to leave them blessed in their walk with the Lord and strengthened by the Word of God.
As much as those two objectives are set firmly in our goals, there is also an abiding thirst within us to see men and women hear the Gospel, come to the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, repent of their sins and be born again into the kingdom and family of God. We are passionate about winning people to Christ.
Millions are bound by sin and satan. The chains of sin have fastened them tight and they can not break free no matter how hard they try. The fun of sin is long gone and the pain of sin has taken its place. There is no earthly remedy for sin.
But I know the cure for sin. I know how the brokenhearted can be healed. I know how the captives can find deliverance. I know who can give sight to the spiritually blind and will set at liberty them that are bruised. I know the remedy for sin.
His name is Jesus! His name is Jesus! Jesus came to earth to seek and to save that which was lost!
I Timothy 1:14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
Christ has the power to set men free. He offers deliverance, forgiveness and healing. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I have the wonderful privilege to proclaim that message from pulpits across America and other parts of the world hundreds of times each and every year. I am blessed to stand every night and proclaim with the authority of God's Word that God is longsuffering to us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
The Gospel, the good news, must be told far and wide as often as necessary until all have heard. I intend to deliberately tell that message in every revival, camp meeting, tent revival and every church where we are called upon to minister.
I have in over 30 years of preaching watched many hundreds of people walk the opposite direction when I have given the Gospel message. Some have outright rejected the message and others have chosen to wait for a convenient time. It is disappointing to see that happen but I will do my best to give the message and leave the results up to God.
I have seen many other folks turn and repent and watched God totally and radically change their lives in response to the Gospel message. Recently I heard of a young lady that prayed for salvation in a revival last year. Her life was in quite a mess and some may have doubted if she was even serious. She is saved today. Her husband is saved today and many from their families are saved today! Praise God! I think I will preach on!
I desperately desire to preach the Gospel message to the lost. That is what I feel this evangelist is called to do!
In every revival we purpose to encourage the local Pastor.
In every revival we purpose to encourage the local church.
In every revival we purpose to give the Gospel message to the lost.
I may never preach to 100,000 in one place. I may never walk across the largest platforms or preach in the largest churches, but if I can accomplish those three goals in the churches and cities that God has opened to me then I will be the evangelist God called me to be.