Why Not Try This? …Preach Your Own Evangelistic Series

A couple of weeks ago I had lunch with Tom Lemon, Ministerial Director of the Oregon Conference. I was curious so I asked him “How are your meetings going at Mt. Tabor?” With his characteristic smile, but an extra twinkle in his eye, he said “I forgot two things about having your own evangelistic series. I forgot how fun it is and how hard it is.” Then he went on to tell me about the great support of the church, the young(er) couples who were coming, the dozen interests the church already had ready before the meetings, how technology could be both a blessing and a curse, and how the New Beginnings graphics were a blessing! As he spoke about soul winning he became more animated.

          Then he paused and said, “All through my years pastoring we have had evangelism. Usually I would invite a guest evangelist to my district. I had forgotten how long it had been since I had done my own meetings. It’s hard work but it is so much fun. I don’t know why I waited this long, but I not going to wait this long till my next series!”

          I could resonate with what he said. There are so many things to do as a pastor. Why make life more complicated and stressful by having your own series of meetings? But then I start to remember why I am an ordained minister. I have been called to win souls to Jesus and the Adventist message. I have been called to train and mobilize my members to be soul winners, too. And whenever I make the Gospel Commission the top priority in my own life I am richly rewarded.

          I heard of a street preacher that would take his lunch break every day to stand on a busy street corner and preach about Jesus and Bible truth. Day after day he would preach. One day he felt a tap on his back and looked around to see a boy about ten years old. The boy said, “Hey Mister. I’ve been watching you a few days now. Why do you keep preaching when nobody is listening to you?” The street preacher smiled at the boy and replied “Because I believe it more every time I preach it.”

          When we preach Jesus and His present truth it becomes more and more real to us. Perhaps this is part of the meaning of Revelation 12:11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony …”

          Every year or two I have tried to preach my own series of meetings regardless of my pastoral assignment. Each time it was fun and hard work. And each time I was strengthened in my understanding of and my commitment to the Adventist message. I felt like I was really challenging myself and growing.

          Then I went to Bolivia. There I discovered a tremendous depth of commitment to spiritual growth and soul winning. Every spring and fall there are hundreds of lay preachers that preach a fourteen-night series of meetings. So in five years many lay people have preached more series of meetings than the average North American Adventist pastor preaches in his entire forty year ministry! One pastor’s wife I talked with was preaching her sixth short series (14 nights) in the last three years. She was so excited that the small group of people that came to hear her on someone’s large porch were making decisions. Ultimately while we were there seven people from her group were baptized in a river and joined the church. Her preaching site was one of 1,450 sites across the country. Pastors preached in 100 of the sites and lay women, men and youth preached at the other 1,350 sites. Wow! No wonder the church is growing.

          My trip to Bolivia, and my visit with Tom Lemon over lunch, have persuaded me to commit myself to having two short series every year if God gives me strength, health, and an opening. By God’s grace I want this message to be indelibly stamped on my mind and heart through the Holy Spirit’s work and the preaching from my heart and the Word of God.

          I’ll find plenty of reasons to not follow through with this. So…

When I think I am too busy to hold evangelistic meetings I need to remember this counsel— “It is a great mistake to keep a minister who is gifted with power to preach the gospel, constantly at work in business matters. He who holds forth the Word of life is not to allow too many burdens to be placed upon him. . . .” {Evangelism p. 91.3}

When I’m tempted to think I can only preach in a church building I need to remember this counsel— There are those who think it is their duty to preach the truth, but they dare not venture from the shore, and they catch no fish. They will choose to go among the churches, over and over the same ground. They report a good time, a pleasant visit, but we look in vain for the souls that are converted to the truth through their instrumentality. These ministers hug the shore too closely. Let them launch out into the deep, and cast their net where the fish are. There is no lack of work to be done. There could be hundreds employed in the vineyard of the Lord where there is now one.” {Evangelism p. 59.3}

When I think I have to have large budget, outstanding music and a beautiful venue to hold meetings I need to remember this counsel— “He [Jesus] preached in the synagogues because thus He could reach the many who gathered there. Then He went out and taught by the seaside and in the great thoroughfares of travel. The precious truths that He had to proclaim were not to be confined to synagogues. . . .” {Evangelism p. 54.1}

“Let your hearers understand that you do not hold Sunday evening meetings to charm their senses with music and other things, but to preach the truth in all its solemnity, that it may come to them as a warning, arousing them from their deathlike sleep of self-indulgence. It is the naked truth that, like a sharp, two-edged sword, cuts both ways. . . . {Evangelism p. 148.1}

There is a living power in truth, and the Holy Spirit is the agent that opens human minds to the truth. But the ministers and workers who proclaim the truth must show certainty and decision. They are to go forth in faith, and present the Word as though they believed it. Try to make those for whom you labor understand that it is God’s truth. Preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified. This will confront Satan’s lies. {Evangelism p. 169.1}

We hunger not for excitement, for the sensational; the less we have of this, the better. The calm, earnest reasoning from the Scriptures is precious and fruitful. Here is the secret of success, in preaching a living personal Saviour in so simple and earnest a manner that the people may be able to lay hold by faith of the power of the Word of life. {Evangelism p. 170.1}

When I think I have to preach against error, or preach long messages I need to remember this counsel— “People cannot be expected to see at once the advantage of truth over the error they have cherished. The best way to expose the fallacy of error is to present the evidences of truth. This is the greatest rebuke that can be given to error. Dispel the cloud of darkness resting on minds by reflecting the bright light of the Sun of Righteousness. {Evangelism p. 170.2}

The truth is so different in character and work from the errors preached from popular pulpits that when it is brought before the people for the first time, it almost overwhelms them. It is strong meat and should be dealt out judiciously. While some minds are quick to catch an idea, others are slow to comprehend new and startling truths which involve great changes and present a cross at every step. Give them time to digest the wonderful truths of the message you bear them.” {Evangelism p. 177.1}

“The preacher should endeavor to carry the understanding and sympathies of the people with them. Do not soar too high, where they cannot follow, but give the truth point after point, slowly and distinctly, making a few essential points, then it will be as a nail fastened in a sure place by the Master of assemblies. If you stop when you should, giving them no more at once than they can comprehend and profit by, they will be eager to hear more, and thus the interest will be sustained.” {Evangelism p. 177.2}

          Hum… “If you stop when you should, giving them no more at once than they can comprehend and profit by…”


Blessings to you,

Dan Serns

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