by Terrance Taylor, Pastor of the Pasco Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist Church
I still believe in public evangelism. There is something about preparing the house of God and the people of God for the purpose of a specialized focus on the truths of God’s Word that energizes me. The principles of natural law of the harvest still hold true to the spiritual mission field, you reap what you sow. It has been my experience through this ministry opportunity that to discover that power of creativity in evangelism and how partnering with God is the only way to have success. I would briefly share what I’ve learned through this public evangelistic effort and how I will apply it to a future opportunity.
General Details About The Meeting
Our meeting was entitled “Lift Him Up”and we marketed it as a spring revival instead of an evangelistic meeting. We held our meetings at 7:00pm every night of the week except for Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. We held our meetings in the multipurpose room with a stage and warm lighting. We planned for 50 people and maintained and average of 35 each night. The staff wore business casual with an uniformed black polo shirt with lanyard name tags. We offered children’s programing in a classroom adjacent to the meeting hall. We also provided a light snack after the meetings to engage conversation.
Spiritual Growth Among Leadership Is The Greatest Reward of Evangelism
It was my goal from the beginning of the planning stages to target the church leaders as the audience of the message. I felt impressed to make sure that we had the expectation that these meetings were for “us”. I found that during the meetings I could see our own people being blessed by the meetings and giving their full participation.
At the conclusion I noticed at least three members that had taken a new ownership of the church and came early and stayed late to make sure things where running smoothly and that I wasn’t over burdened. Our emphasis on prayer reminded us to keep the right perspective and trust that the Holy Spirit was leading and guiding the hearts of the people. So no matter how kind we where or how good everything looked, we couldn’t make people change. So we focused on making sure we provided the Holy Spirit with the best environment to minister to us. Once we were free from that we just gave ourselves permission to receive what the LORD had for us spiritually.
Momentum Builds Interest
This was the most surprising thing I learned from these meetings. Just driving to church each night, making it apart of your regular schedule was as eye-opening experience for me. What I observed is that the more our members were at the church, the more they were aware of the church! What I mean by that is I think our members may forget about the church if it’s not apart of their daily lives. Only coming once a week can make you feel disconnected to the church. Coming five days a week makes you more aware of ministry and builds an appreciation of the facility God has given. Also, by coming five days a week, it cuts out time for all the other things we can be involved in that is not spiritually beneficial. Evangelism sets us back in the groove of ministry and resets our weekly routine to focus more on God.
The Importance Of Having a Strong Plan To Follow Up The Meetings
Now what? That is the question I will be sure to have an answer for next time. I admit that I had not thought that through as much as I could have. I think we always think about the new members or interests from the meeting but often neglect to think about the staff and leadership who are coming down from the mountain. What I realized is that I didn’t expect the meetings to run so smoothly and so I made the mistake of planning for burn out. I thought, “oh, the church members will be tired and ready for this to be over with”, but the opposite happened, they were asking for more, without asking. In other words they had been trained and deployed, but their assignment was over, and I hadn’t planned for that. Not everybody is interesting in giving Bible studies to new believers. Something has to happen to keep the focus on evangelism and for spiritual growth to continue, in fact I think the meetings are just a catalyst for that very purpose.
Social Media Is Mandatory
Social media was absolutely crucial to the success of our meetings, but we could have done a much better job of utilizing it. We realized right away that social media was the best tool to have the widest influence possible to reach our demographic. What I learned is that social media should not be used as a reporter but rather as a witness. It should be active in telling what is happening right now, rather than what will happen…silence…and then what happened. I never announced it, but I had planned from the beginning to broadcast our services on youtube after each meeting. I do it as a way to allow people to attend the meetings without being there in person. By and large it maintained a level of connection and theological progression needed to allow the series to flow.
It Doesn’t Really Matter What You Preach, Just Preach
Months prior to our meeting, I began going over evangelistic materials and resources trying to gather a plan for preaching each service. I looked at theological plans, topical plans, evangelistic plans, every plan I could find in order to give me a reference point to work from. This was my first evangelistic public meeting as the speaker so I wanted to make sure that I was approaching it in an evangelistic way. I chose to preach the foundational truths of our message from the personhood of Christ. I used the direct teachings of Jesus from the gospels on each subject. The challenge I had was trying to squeeze each theological point without compromising the context of related verse. It was also very difficult to teach these things to the demographic we desired to reach because on average many were unfamiliar with the Bible. But as I felt the pressure of trying to capture each thought and each point in a clear simple way, I was relieved after being reminded of the minimal part I have in reaching the heart. As I said before, my focus was to allow the Holy Spirit to work and to have the least amount of distractions possible. I realized that our services were planned encounters with God. The subject or topic is important. Just lifting up Christ and presenting the Bible and God’s Word is enough to create an encounter for the people to experience. The freedom of this idea comes when you consider all sides of the experience and find there are not limits to your scholarship or creativity. There is no subject too simple or too hard to be presented to the people. Just preach and watch the LORD work.
I enjoyed my experience with these meetings. I’ve discovered that public evangelism is something my church enjoys and I enjoy as well. We have another meeting planned in the fall and we’re already planning for it. I am thankful that we as a church still believe in evangelism in all its forms and I’m grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the work in my own special way.