35 years after “Rambo 2”, Sylvester Stallone is again number one at the box office. Sly’s new movie, “The Expendables” grossed $35 million on opening weekend. I actually got to meet Sly after winning a contest that was promoting “Rambo 2.”
The word expendable means to be not worth using, easily replaced, second-rate, discarded after service and/or holds little value today.
Sadly, some Christians and clergy view the evangelist as expendable. Some churches have no desire for evangelism and can’t see how utilizing an evangelist would bless their congregation and community. The evangelists that I have come to admire are all a treat, not a threat.
One pastor recently told me after I preached a five-day revival at his church, “Frank, I see the evangelist as a Special Forces type of guy who can get in and get out with the Holy Spirit help clear the debris of sin, set the captives free and help us explode in maturity both spiritually and numerically.” That brother “gets it.”
Another pastor told me that he views the evangelist as a skilled surgeon performing delicate operating procedures with a skilled focus of evangelizing sinners and encouraging the saints. This pastor viewed his role as being the primary physician or general practitioner. He understands too.
One pastor told my evangelist friend, “The reason we don’t use you evangelists anymore is because you create too much work for me when you’re gone.” When inquiring what he meant by “work,” he said that he was stressed that he would now have to baptize 13 adults who trusted Christ as Savior.
Three years ago, I attended a conference with pastors and when they learned I was an evangelist they treated me like I was a second-class citizen and said I would be better off getting a secure salary as a senior pastor “because you will never make it in evangelism.” A few pastors told me point-blank “You guys (evangelists) either only have three good sermons” or my personal favorite “Not good enough to have your own church.” Wow!
I have been blessed to pastor a Baptist church, but I always knew God called, equipped and empowered me to do the work of an evangelist. For 60 years, America’s preacher was an evangelist, Dr. Billy Graham. For the last couple years, it has been tempting to forsake the call of an evangelist and consider church planting because it has become the trend. The problem with following trends is that sometimes they lead to heartache and heartbreak, but no harvest. As a church body, we all need to partner together with evangelists to evangelize. Most of the evangelists I know long and live to compliment the pastor and their staff, not to compete. Actually, we want to help complete the work of Christ in our midst.
Last year, I was told the reason that many clergy and churches don’t bring in evangelists anymore is because most evangelists don’t host stadium events. When did one need a crowd to tell someone about Christ? Evangelism is not designated for 30,000 seats or more, but is a commandment by Christ, not a suggestion of man. We win souls one at a time and each one can reach one. Won by One. The two best revivals in 2008 I participated in happened to be in churches that were without a pastor. I cannot help but think some of the leadership in churches has hindered the perfect will of God by keeping evangelists from utilizing their God-given gifts and calling.
At age 10, I had such a yearning for lost souls that I couldn’t sleep. Eventually, I made a decision was going to invite friends to church for VBS no matter what. 22 friends came with me! Go God! Most folks don’t come to church because a friend never invited them. I am convinced that the God called the evangelist to be a gift to the Body of Christ. Evangelists do have an anointing to “draw the net” and can preach a simple Gospel. Evangelists compliment pastors. Sometimes when an evangelist says the same thing as a pastor, but in a different voice, it can give credibility and helps the congregation grow in their faith.
The evangelist can be both a harvester and revivalist. Yes, souls are won to Christ, but it is just as important for the saints asleep or stagnant to be renewed, revived and ready anew for service to reach the world for Christ. One of the highest honors of my life is being able to minister to ministers in private during the revival meetings. Evangelists are a gift to the church, but even as an evangelist myself; I don’t evangelize because I am an evangelist, but because I am a committed Christian. We are all called to share our faith and be ready to give an account, both by our life and lips.
Over the years, I have learned folks will criticize or question what they have not experienced or do not understand. When Tony Nolan saw 43,000 decisions for Christ at Winter Jam, some ministers have a hard time digesting that. When Clayton King saw 1,000 and 2,000 souls saved at services, some can’t grasp that either. It encourages me to see more come to faith in Christ! Those numbers are confirmation that Jesus is still in the soul-saving business. God did it then, is doing it now and will do it again, with or without the support of the local church.
Some have suggested that “results of revival” don’t last long. It has been said that a bath doesn’t last forever either, but it sure helps to take one periodically. The evangelist can reach the lost while reviving the saved and/or stagnant. Ministry is a team effort. It’s not that the evangelists are missing in action; unfortunately, the doors for opportunity are not quite what they used to be. Some fault economy, theology or plain jealousy, however, I believe that we have replaced the role of the evangelist for church planting. Tremendous blessings have resulted in church plants, yet revival still does enormous good for the church.
Yes, some evangelists fell away from faith, but so have teachers, policemen and bankers. That doesn’t mean that everyone was off base or wrong. As a church, we need to nurture and minister to these warriors not treat them callously or expendably.
Some may enter ministry for wrong motives, but most of those that I know (pastors, evangelists, teachers, etc.) are unselfish individuals who love Jesus and are part of a team greater than themselves. I share my faith on an almost daily basis, not because it’s my “job,” but because it’s a joy to do it. My prayer is that revival will sweep our land and world like never before. But revival must start with us in our hearts, homes and heads. My prayer is that all Christians will share their faith in love, tactfully and with Biblical boldness. As ministers, evangelists and pastors can do more together than we ever could alone.
The folks who have made a profound impact on my life have either started out as evangelists or never lost the burning passion to reach souls while doing the work of an evangelist. We have preachers and teachers, but all of us are called to be reachers for God’s glory. Evangelists need to be humble servants who desire daily to love God, bless the local church and see souls saved.
It has been proven to be more cost effective to seeing a harvest of souls to bring in an evangelist than investing funds in buildings, programs and other ideas. We can all work together. Over the years, my concern has been that it’s easier to discuss, debate and dissect ideas, rather than just getting out there to do ministry. An evangelist is a gift, but unless we unwrap it and reap the benefits, we will never be running on all cylinders as a church. Again, my remarks are not so much a rant or rave, but a humble review from the other side of the fence.
It is more expensive to get rid of evangelists than to get rid of them all together. It is one thing when the government elects to scrap a program, but it’s eternally worse when church leaders halt the giftings of an evangelist.
Presidents may ponder the “State of the Union,” while some in church leadership may question the “state of the evangelist.” Ministry is hard work, the economy is rough and at times the future can look bleak. But I have good news! Our trust is not in men, money or military, but our hope is in Christ and the harvest is ripe. I rejoice that when we work together we will experience revival like never before. If you want to see the Kingdom expand, then prayerfully consider using an expendable.