High Cost of Evangelism
By Brian Pepper
Today we are living is a world that is rapidly reaching a position of total collapse. People are alarmed as they see on their TV screens great and small nations crumbling and torn apart bit civil war. Then there is the world recession and in its wake there has come massive unemployment.
In Australia the fall of Alan Bond from his position of world market tycoon, then Christopher Skase who had a sizeable grip on the TV empire; plus the collapse of several Banks and State governments being investigated for corruption by Royal commissions. The rural section is in deep trouble with many farmers walking off their properties to join the dole queues. The Church itself is also in serious trouble, that is financially, because the tithe and offerings have been affected by the recession.
I am sure that you are saying to yourself "what can be done to get us out of this mess?" We have the answer. It is Evangelism. This will probably surprise you
I have no doubt that someone is ready to argue against that. Most of you are probably saying that we ought to bring them to Christ. And I would certainly agree with that. However I still say that Evangelism is the answer, because by Evangelism I mean presenting Christ’s message to the world.
Now I do not mean telling folk about ancient Egypt or Babylon or Tyre or any of those ancient cities that have disappeared. Neither am I referring to some talented speaker or flamboyant personality.
Somehow we have got things all mixed up.
Presenting Christ to the World
Immediately we think of Evangelism we think of Billy Graham or Kenneth Cox or George Vandeman.
Evangelism is more than that. There are a thousand ways to evangelize. But Evangelism is not easy.
I would like you to notice a very interesting text.
Isaiah 66:7. “Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child.”
No Birth without Pain
Most folk are familiar with the fact that there is no birth without pain, without labour. You see there is no easy painless method of saving souls. Evangelism costs something. It means anxiety, severe soul conflict, sacrifice.
There is no shortcut. The Church must be willing to sacrifice if it is to have success in winning souls.
Notice what the apostle Paul says about it in
Galatians 4:19. I hope you do not mind but I will read it in the Living Bible.
"Oh, my children, how you are hurting me! I am once again suffering for you the pains of a mother waiting for her child to be born - longing for the time when you will finally be filled with Christ."
The majority of folk have heard of Billy Graham. He has been a very famous evangelist for many years. Before Billy Graham came on the scene, another famous evangelist by the name of D.L. Moody was preaching in a mighty way and thousands were converted to Christ by this great preacher. A Church group decided that they would ask him
to conduct some special meetings. A fellow evangelist was jealous. Envy is a terrible thing. So this fellow said in a sarcastic way "Does Moody have a monopoly on the Holy Spirit? The answer came back, "No, but the Holy Spirit has a monopoly on him." Now wasn’t that a wonderful answer? When the Holy Spirit has a monopoly of an individual, that person will do great things for God.
The Jealous Evangelist
Over the tears I have run a number of Evangelistic campaigns. It has not been easy.
Little do the church folk realize that on the opening meeting your stomach is tied up in a knot; or the butterflies have taken over; sometimes you cannot sleep; often you lose your appetite. It is exactly as the prophet foretold "when Zion travails, when the birth pains come, the child is about to be born."
Difficulty in Running Evangelistic Meetings
My wife has experienced those birth pains and on one occasion she said to me "You do not know what it is like to hear a child.” That is what she thinks.
Did you know that an evangelist has that experience many times over and that should be the experience of the Church also.
I want to tell you that a Church that does not pray for souls, a church that does not have knots in its stomach; a church without any labour for souls; will never. Did you notice that; will never have any children. That church will never grow. So what are we to do about it? We have to lay the burden upon the hearts of the people. Our job is to induce labour pains in the church.
The Church that will Not Grow
In one church that I had to look after, and that is exactly what I did. They had the hide; they had the nerve to tell me that I was paid to
do the soul winning; that was my responsibility. They paid me to do the work and I want to tell you that the church did not prosper.
Responsibility for Soul Winning
God did not say that soul winning is the sole responsibility of the minister. Actually the minister will never achieve anything worthwhile unless the church backs him up.
Now I will admit there are some ministers who want to do all the talking, all the praying, all the doing, all the teaching; and just let the members be spectators. I have seen that very thing. At one time I was a literature evangelist in a town called Griffith in New South Wales. The minister there, at that time, was exactly as we have just described. On one occasion another minister from Sydney was visiting in the area but our local minister would not offer him the pulpit; he would not stand down because he wanted to do everything, but it did not do him much good for he never amounted to anything as a soul winner.
Of course often the church folk will encourage such a man as that; they like to be the spectators. They often say, "What a wonderful man he was; He was such a hard worker."
Did you know what the LORD will say? "He was a very foolish man; he should have shared things around." Did you know that I had to wait until the eve of my retirement to tell you these things? If I had of said these things when I was in Conference employ, possibly the church folk would have got in touch with the President and I would have been put off the payroll.
Did you know that the LORD has told us both in the Scriptures and through the Spirit of Prophecy writings that the burdens are to be shared by the Church members.
James 1:22 says, ''But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”
Burdens to be Shared by Church Members
I am going to ask you a very personal question. Have you experienced the birth pains spoken of in the Scriptures? Someone told me that a new member must go for six months before giving a Bible study and witnessing for his faith. What a terrible thing to say. Do you mean to say that this person must go for six months without witnessing for his faith? If he does he will be just as cold and lifeless as the rest of the Church. Are you afraid that he will spread some heresy because he does not know all the truth? We have got leading theologians who are doing this. So let him or her go for their lives; the Holy Spirit will tell them what to say. He will put the words in their mouths.
We must bring new folk into the Message and immediately put them to work.
The job of the Church is to assign the people their task.
It used to be the custom of keeping children in prams. Sometimes the mothers would push their children around in prams for one year and in some cases for two years. Do you know what is the result of keeping babies in prams for too long? They become invalids. Did you know that some ministers make their church members spiritual invalids. They keep them in prams. They push them around and tell them bedtime stories. That is why that you have churches with wilting members.
Keeping Children in Prams
Did you know that in these enlightened days often the young father to be can go into the theater and witness the birth of his child? Although with my own children I did not have the opportunity to do this. On one occasion I arrived just as the son was born. Actually I saw the child before his father. I have taken part in a caesarian operation. I held the light so that the veterinarian surgeon was able to cut the cows stomach open in order to release the colt. It was quite a long operation but it was successful.
Witnessing Child Birth
You might ask "What is the purpose of allowing the father to view the birth of his child?” We are told that it makes him a better father; it helps him to understand what is going on. He is able to sympathize with the mother
and loves the children more.
All I can say is that it is about time the whole church went into the delivery room; not only the evangelists, not only the pastor, but the Lay Activities’ leader. And it would not do any harm for the treasurer as well. Then everyone would be able to say “It’s our baby.”
I have heard a lot of church members say "The evangelist baptized them too soon. He did not instruct them properly. They were put in the water too soon.” Did you know that as far as the church goes the baby is born in the baptismal font? And I want to tell you it is not the evangelist’s baby; it is your baby. The trouble is that most Church members do not realize this and like most babies they vary. Some grow very rapidly; you can practically see them grow spiritually. But others do not make such good progress; they could be likened to premature babies so we put them in an incubator, Humidor crib, we keep them warm, we do all we can to help them to grow. Can you see what this is all about? If the baby is to grow spiritually, that is, our baby, everyone must be in it.
It's Our Baby
Let us take a look at what the apostle Paul said in
Galatians 4:19 the Living Bible. "Oh, my children, how you are hurting me! I am once again suffering for you the pains of a mother waiting for her child to be born - longing for the time when you will finally be filled with Christ."
Lack of Concern for the Baby
Unfortunately the Church is not so concerned about the baby as it should be. The Church is too preoccupied with trivialities; there is too much picking fault with each other; too much splitting of theological hairs; too much dividing up into various groups. Do you realize that as long as that takes place there will be no revival in God’s church? And what will happen to our baby? I can leave that to your imagination.
Some church members say "While things are going on as they are in our church it would be better not to have new members coming in." Is that the answer? That is what the devil would like us to believe. Why do I say that; because if no new members come into your church what is going to happen to your church?
Because some of our theologians have been saying that 1844 no longer has any significance; church folk are believing it and have forgotten a very important message connected with this date.
Should New Membership be Discouraged?
Listen to this;
Revelation 14:6. "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people."
Somebody is saying that Australia is dead; that nothing is going on, that very few souls are being won to Christ. As a matter of fact, in one Conference much larger than Tasmania they won less souls.
Do you know why; what the reason for this is; because there is too much splitting of theological hairs; too much dividing into groups. The Devil has beguiled them; he has outsmarted them. While time is running out they are preoccupied with things which will not advance the cause of God.
Is there an answer to the problem we are facing? Yes, I am glad to say that God knew what was going to happen. He has the answer in the Book of Revelation.
Revelation 18:1 says, "And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory."
There is a mighty angel who is waiting and ready. He is growing restless.
The angels of heaven are restless too. They are anxious to come down in power but the Church is not ready. As a matter of fact the Church is never going to be ready. But God will use those sincere earnest souls who are praying for this time to come.
The Church Not Ready
The question that we must answer is; how will this time find us? Awake and ready? Prepared to work for and with God in these closing hours of time? Or are we going to fossilize or procrastinate? I used to think that was quite an interesting term until I met a real fossilized Christian.
One who did no active missionary work for God; not even went out on the
Annual Mission Appeal. I want to tell you it is a terrible thing to be like that.
I have always liked action. I was never a one to sit around and I pray that even at my age God will use me in these final moments of time to evangelize.
Are We Ready or Not?
Yes the answer to the problems we are facing today is evangelism. Every member of the Church should be engaged in soul saving and caring for our babies, the Family of God.
You will notice we say brother and sister round here. It’s because we're a family and these folks are so near. When one has a heartache we all share the tears, And rejoice in each victory in this family so dear.
The Answer is Evangelism
I’m so glad I'm a part of the family of God!
I’ve been washed in the fountain,
Cleansed by His blood.
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
For I'm part of the family
the family of God.
From the door of an orphanage to the house of the King
No longer an outcast, a new song I sing.
From rags unto riches from the weak to the strong
I'm not worthy to be here,
But praise God I belong!