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Revival’s Coming, Let’s Make Sure Everyone Knows

Revival’s Coming, Let’s Make Sure Everyone Knows

I can’t tell you how many times throughout the years I’ve heard a church member say that they knew nothing about an upcoming event within the church though it’s been in the bulletin for weeks. Therefore, we can’t assume everyone, or anyone, knows about an upcoming event, though it’s been clearly posted. A church revival is one of the most important events of the year. You want it to be well attended by the church members, and, you want the church members to invite others to come. Therefore, it is vitally important that you do the best possible job you can in making sure everyone knows about it. 

            By all means, put it in the bulletin, for those who actually read it, yet, at the same time, find some other ways to make sure word is getting out. A month or so before the revival, start putting inserts in the bulletin with detailed information about the revival. Tell the church members to put it somewhere that they will see it regularly and encourage them to use it as a prayer guide. Make extra’s and encourage the members to use them to invite others.

            No one likes endless announcements in a worship service, so be creative in getting the word out during the service. Find people who have been saved or spiritually impacted during a previous revival service and ask them to share a brief testimony a few weeks before the revival service. This will remind the members of the upcoming revival service but also make them aware of the potential spiritual impact a revival can, and should, have. There should also be strong encouragement during this time for the members to invite lost people to come.

            Prayer is one of the most important ways that we can prepare for a revival. I will discuss in greater detail in a future blog on how we can pray for the revival service and how we can pray for the lost but for now, let me encourage you to have a special time of prayer in the worship service for the revival and for the lost. For a month or so before the revival, begin each service with an altar call and ask the members to spend some time praying for themselves in personal spiritual preparation. During the invitation, encourage members to pray for those they would like to see saved. This not only encourages the members to pray, but it also reminds them that revival is coming, and builds up the anticipation of its coming.  

            Several weeks prior to the revival services, the pastor should start preparing the congregation for revival in his sermons. He should preach on the need of revival, what revival is, the need of evangelistic outreach in inviting the lost, and the need for spiritual preparation. The pastor doesn’t have to make every sermon and every point about the upcoming revival, but he should reference it as often as possible in preparation and anticipation of the upcoming revival.

In doing this, the church will not only be fully aware that revival is coming; they will be ready. In fact, in many cases, revival will have already started before the evangelist steps on the scene.

            It is also wise to get the children involved in revival preparation. Getting them involved will get the whole family involved. Get the children to make invitations and handouts. Get them to make some crafts like signs and posters that can be placed around the church building that will promote the revival. Utilize them in as many ways as you can because they love to help, and their fire will quickly spread to the rest of the church.

            Be creative in getting the word out. Make every effort to make sure everyone knows that revival is coming. Don’t just make them aware of dates but the details, and the potential of what can happen if and when true revival comes.

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2019 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Do Revivals Have to be Sunday-Wednesday?

Do Revivals Have to be Sunday-Wednesday?

As stated in a previous blog, one of the concerns pastors have in scheduling a revival is whether or not people will come. My advice then was to trust God and schedule one anyway. That being said, this is a legitimate concern for many churches. The church today is in competition with almost everything. Like it or not, the church is no longer the center of the community. Regardless of the time of year, there will be something that will prevent some from coming. And, let’s face the facts, far too many put the church and its activities on the back burner. All the more, this should confirm the need for revival and should not allow this to keep us from scheduling a revival.

            If attendance and participation is a concern for you and your church, then start thinking outside the box. Many years ago, most revivals went on for weeks. Apart from a move of God, those days are gone. When I first started preaching revivals, it was common to schedule a revival from Sunday through Friday. Even those are a rarity today. Most revivals today are scheduled from Sunday through Wednesday.

            Though I will discuss other schedules for revival meetings to be considered, don’t discount the Sunday through Wednesday schedule. One of the great advantages of having a Sunday through Wednesday revival is that they seem to produce the most momentum. Each day of the revival, the pastor and evangelist encourage church members to invite others to come, and when the members see God moving, they generally do. Because of this, I have often seen the greatest number of decisions made on Wednesday evenings. Wednesday evening is also the night the majority of youth come and is a very effective time for reaching them. The youth are also the most likely to invite others to come, especially when they are encouraged to do so.

            But know, the Sunday through Wednesday schedule isn’t your only option. Over the years, I have preached many revivals that were scheduled for Friday through Sunday. These seem to be very effective in bringing in lost and unchurched people. Some of my greatest revivals, with the most attendance, and the most decisions, have been Friday through Sunday revivals. This schedule seems to be the most effective among younger families that are usually tied up with daily activities throughout the week. They will often struggle to get home from work, get the kids fed and ready, then rush off to church. This is often a great deterrent in their participation in a revival. So, strongly consider providing a meal on Friday evening and offer a nursery throughout the revival and you will likely see more younger families attend.   

            Another fun and effective way to draw people in is to have a weekend Harvest Festival. In a harvest festival, the church would plan a block party with plenty of activities for all ages on a Saturday. The block party will then end with an evangelistic service. The block party will also be used to invite folks to church the following day for another evangelistic service. This can be a very effective evangelistic strategy whether its schedule is limited to Saturday and Sunday, or amid a Friday through Saturday revival, or used as a kickoff for a Sunday through Wednesday revival. This strategy can be costly and will need many workers but has proven to be very effective. It can also be done with a cluster of churches working together.

            Many churches today have Harvest Sundays. A harvest Sunday is basically a one-day revival where the members work hard at getting as many lost folks to their Sunday morning service as possible where the evangelist will preach the gospel and will often see many saved. The Sunday School and/or discipleship training hour can also be used as a time where the evangelist can teach witness training. This strategy has been used by many churches and has been proven to be effective in seeing many saved. Be warned, though. Because it is only one day don’t think of it as being a means of putting forth the least amount of effort. The same amount of effort, planning, and preparation as a weeklong revival should be put into a Harvest Sunday. If the church members don’t get on board and invite the lost, it won’t be a very effective strategy.

            No doubt, there are many ways we can have and schedule a revival service in our churches so strongly consider having one. Think outside the box. Though no schedule will ever suit everyone, talk to your church members, and ask them what they think would work. Most importantly, pray and seek God for when and how you should have a revival. He may greatly surprise you. God’s way will be the only effective way.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2019 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Why Your Church Should use an Evangelist

Why Your Church Should use an Evangelist

“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.”

Ephesians 4:11-12

Now that your church has decided to have a revival or evangelistic event, one of the most important decisions will now be, who will lead it? I want to strongly encourage you to use an evangelist. Before I get into why you should consider using an evangelist, let me first address two of the most prominent reasons why pastors and churches don’t use evangelists. The first reason I hear all too often is that there are too many bad evangelists out there with bad theology and will do almost anything to get someone to walk an isle or raise their hand for the sake of numbers. Yes, there are bad evangelists out there, but there are bad pastors as well. Does this mean we should stop using pastors? Of course not. It means that we do as the church of Ephesus did and test those who call themselves apostles, or in this case evangelists, and prove that they are not.

In reality, more than any other office in the church, evangelists depend on recommendations from other pastors and churches. If an evangelist is bad, word will quickly spread about him, and he will be weeded out. For this reason, the number of bad evangelists will be far less than you would think. Yes, there are still some bad evangelists out there, but it doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to figure out who they are.

The second and most prominent excuse I hear is that a pastor may not personally know any evangelists and therefore not feel comfortable using one. Trust me, after 18 years of pastoral ministry, I understand this concern. The pastor is responsible for the churches spiritual well being and should not allow just anyone to come and preach at their church. Fortunately, we live in a day and age where it is very easy to know who the evangelist is, what they believe, and what they preach. Fortunately, almost every evangelist has websites and social media today. Many of them post their sermons, books, and blogs, along with an abundance of references. Again, a bad evangelist will be quickly weeded out, especially in today’s mass information age. In today’s world of technology, it doesn’t take much effort or digging, to get to know an evangelist. Therefore, the excuse that the pastor doesn’t know the evangelist is a poor one. The pastor should, to the best of his ability, guard his pulpit with the utmost integrity. For this reason, an evangelist should be thoroughly vetted. Fortunately, today’s technology makes this a much easier task in getting the know the evangelist.

Why then should you bother in getting to know an evangelist so you can use one? No church would ever consider not having a pastor, would they? If they are without a pastor, they will quickly begin looking for one. Just as God has called the pastor, He has called the evangelist for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-12). Though the pastor is more prominent in scripture and more prominent in the work of the church, they are both called of God and should, therefore, be used of the church.            

The evangelist has a unique gifting and calling to preach the gospel and has a unique anointing that God uses to bring many to Christ. One of the most prominent pastors of our day, Dr. Johnny Hunt, stated, “What an absolute privilege it is, as a Pastor of a local Southern Baptist Church, to realize the importance of using our Southern Baptist Evangelists. The Bible makes it extremely clear in Ephesians 4 that God has given gifts to the church, and one of those gifts being the gift of the evangelist. During my sabbatical several years ago, while being away for seven Sundays, four of those Sundays were filled with Southern Baptist Evangelists. As a result, 52 baptisms were recorded in my absence.”

One might say that evangelists are specialists in the gospel. If your transmission starts acting up in your car, you wouldn’t take it to the tire shop. If the pipes in your house start leaking, you wouldn’t call an electrician. If you’re having heart trouble, you wouldn’t schedule an appointment with your dentist. If you want to see people saved in your revival or evangelistic event, why then would you invite anyone other than an evangelist?

There is no doubt that the calling and ministry of a pastor is extraordinarily important in the life of the church. I believe it’s of the utmost importance. However, though the pastor is commanded to do the work of an evangelist, he is not an evangelist. The pastor wears many hats and preaches on many subjects. The evangelist, however, has a singular laser focus. His focus is the gospel and seeing people saved through proclaiming it. Just as a good mechanic can look over a car and quickly pinpoint the problem, an evangelist can preach in a way that pinpoints the problem of the lost that will bring them to salvation. That is their unique gifting and calling from God. Dr. Johnny Hunt also said, “I thank God for the way that He is using evangelists to make a difference, as it pertains to the harvest that needs to take place in our local churches. Use your SBC Evangelists! Your people will thank you, and the sinners will bless you throughout eternity.”

So, why should your church use an evangelist? Why wouldn’t they? Evangelists are uniquely called and gifted by God for the purpose of seeing the lost saved. I can give you many more reasons as to why your church should us an evangelist, but in reality, what greater reason is there than to see souls saved?

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2019 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Should Our Church Have a Revival?

Should Our Church Have a Revival?

“Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?” Psalm 85:6

A question that many pastors have asked over the years is, “Should I lead our church into having a revival?” My answer will always be, “yes, of course you should.” The pastor might then ask, “you don’t know anything about our church. How then can you say we need revival?” The answer to that is simple; every church needs revival. Yes, every church! Every church can, and should, benefit from a well planned and well prayed over revival. Some common questions that might soon follow are:

Our church is strong and healthy, why do we need a revival?

Answer these questions honestly, is everyone in your community saved? Is everyone in your church saved? Are there no backslidden members within your church? Do you believe that even among the strong and healthy there is no room for growth? The answer to each of these questions is obvious. Likewise, the answer as to whether or not your church needs revival is obvious. To say your church does not need revival is an act of arrogance, pride, and self-sufficiency. Every one of us need revival because every one of us battles with the flesh, the world, and with spiritual forces every day that tries, and often does, drag us down. We all need that encouragement to repent, grow, and pursue Jesus. Not to mention, if your church truly is healthy and strong, they would have the heart to reach their community with the gospel, and they would be more than willing to support an evangelistic revival. Therefore, a healthy and strong church is in the perfect position for a revival.

Our church is already seeing many saved, why do we need a revival?

            Have you ever heard the saying, strike while the iron is hot? That is very applicable here. Praise God if your church is seeing a large number of individuals saved. If you are, I can assure you that there is no greater time to have a revival. If your church has recently seen a large number of people recently saved, that means you have a large number of new believers within your church. Unlike people who have been saved and involved in the church for many years, new believers usually still have a large number of friends who are lost. At the same time, new believers usually have a deep passion for seeing their friends and families saved.

For this reason, they would be more likely to invite and encourage their lost friends and family to an evangelistic revival. To add fuel to the fire, church members who’ve been saved for many years usually get a zeal for seeing the lost saved when they start seeing the lost saved. Therefore, they would also be more likely to participate in an evangelistic revival. So, yes, your church needs to have a revival. Strike while the iron is hot.  

Our church is small. Can we have a revival?

            This is a very common question and concern. Without a doubt, you can, and should, have a revival. Many of the great revivals of the past started with only a handful of people. God is unlimited in His power and ability; therefore, we shouldn’t limit Him. Study Gideon as an example. Not long ago a fellow Mississippi Baptist Evangelist, Gary Bowlin, preached a revival in a church that had 18 in Sunday School the morning of their revival. That week, they saw 18 people saved. How awesome is that? Most evangelists will gladly go to any church of any size. If ten people come and God stirs revival within them, praise the Lord! The Lord will quickly use them and multiply them. Remember, Jesus started with 12.

If we had a revival no one would come, so why should we even try?

            Unfortunately, from small to large churches, this is becoming a major concern among pastors when deciding as to have a revival meeting or not. In reality, the lack of participation is one of the tell-tell signs that your church needs revival. In practicality, you might think, why put forth the effort if no one comes. Trust me; people will come. It may not be as many as you would like or hope for, but people will come. Revival is contagious, especially in parched ground. If only a handful of people come and are revived, the revival will eventually spread to the other members and light their fire as well. I’ve seen revivals where there was very little participation, very little enthusiasm, and very little movement throughout the week. But a handful of people were revived. Sometimes it’s the discouraged pastor that’s revived. The weeks following the revival, the fire begins to spread, and harts begin to change. Revival has come. Don’t worry about who will and will not come. Leave that up to God. He might surprise you.

            The bottom line is, every church can, and should, benefit from a revival. We can come up with an excuse for every scenario, but God always has a solution. A well planned, prayed over, and promoted revival should be successful. We may not always see the fruit of it immediately, but that’s not our responsibility, it’s God’s. Pastor’s and churches, don’t deprive your church nor your community of the opportunity to have, and experience revival.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2019 in Bible Study, Devotional, ministry

 

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A Clear Biblical Mandate

A Clear Biblical Mandate

Clearly the church is failing in regards to evangelizing this lost world. Thom Rainer, the CEO of Lifeway, recently wrote in a blog titled, Where Have All the Baptisms Gone? “I recently reported the latest statistics for our denomination. It’s not a pretty picture. Our membership declined again, this time by 105,708. And our baptisms were down to 314,956, the lowest level since 1948. But in 1948, we only had 6 million members. Today we have 16 million members. We are reaching less people for Christ, even though we have 10 million more members than we did in 1948.”

Lifeway isn’t just a great book store, they are also an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention and collect data from all of the churches within the SBC. Therefore, the denomination he speaks of here is the Southern Baptist Convention. More recently he stated that 93-94% of what many SBC churches call church growth is from transfers and not conversions. That isn’t true church growth. That is simply taking fish out of one pond and putting them in another. He also states that only about 90% of SBC churches are intentionally evangelistic. How sad. The other sad reality is, the SBC’s statistics are better than most other denominations.

Even the most spiritually blind person among us today can see that this world is becoming morally bankrupt while it slips further from the Lord. Immorality of every sort is socially acceptable in almost every facet of society, even in many churches. Bible believing Christians are left asking the question, why. Why is this world slipping further and further away from God’s righteous standard?

We are quick to make excuses that it is a sign of the times we are living in. We say the Lord is coming back soon and we are therefore seeing the apostasy. There may be truth in these statements, but this truth should cause us to work even harder for the kingdom and not less. We are even quick to pass the blame on everyone else. We say that the government, the judicial system, the news media, and the entertainment industry for the most part are anti Christian liberals who stand against us. We say things like, “If we can get Washington right we will reclaim this nation for the Lord.” However, there is a major problem with statements such as this. It is not the government’s job nor responsibility to lead this nation to the Lord-it is the churches. It is the churches, and only the churches, responsibility to evangelize this lost world.

The clear picture that statistics such as this, and many more like it, show is that the church is not doing its job in evangelizing the lost. God has given a clear biblical mandate to all Christians to share the gospel. Just prior to His ascension Jesus gave the final instructions to His disciples to go into all of the world and proclaim the gospel. (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16, Luke 24:47-49, John 20:21). Jesus said in Acts 1:8, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” He said, you shall be, or you will be, My witnesses. Jesus intention for His church to share the gospel is abundantly clear. Since the gospel, and only the gospel, is the power unto salvation, only the gospel of Jesus Christ can transform society. Don’t you think it’s time we start sharing it?

We can sit around and mope over our sad state, or we can get up and do something about it. I prefer the latter. For this reason, I am starting this series of blogs titled, Missions, Ministry, and Evangelism which I will post every Monday that will focus on practical ways we can personally share the gospel along with ways we can challenge our churches to get beyond the walls and into the community to be intentional in missions, ministry, and evangelism, for the sake of reaching this lost world with the gospel.

Stay tuned and go share the gospel. Feel free to share.

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2018 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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Missions, Ministry, and Evangelism

Missions, Ministry, and Evangelism

It’s time that I get back to writing. It’s been three years since I was diagnosed with cancer and I have written very little since. Starting next week I will start posting every Monday morning a series of blogs titled, Missions, Ministry, and Evangelism. They will focus on my years of experience as a pastor, a church planter, and an evangelist. I will write about things that I’ve seen work well, and not so well. I will give practical advice and results, good and bad, of my past labors along with what I’ve seen others do. This will be geared toward pastors, churches and lay leaders who have a heart for missions, ministry, and evangelism. My prayer is that it will motivate our churches to get out beyond their walls and into the field for the purpose of reaping a great harvest. I don’t claim to be the best writer, or even good writer, nor do I claim to have the best advice, I simply want to share my passion and pray that it will be contagious. So, stay tuned!

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2018 in Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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