I conducted my first public evangelistic meeting in the small, economically depressed town of Sybertsville, Pennsylvania, United States. I was a young and inexperienced pastor; but the faithful followers of Jesus in that community were very encouraging. We rented a meeting room from the local fire department and sent out invitations.
I knew that I needed some powerful biblical messages, so I called a well-known Christian evangelist, C. D. Brooks, and asked if I could borrow his sermons. His affirmative response was spontaneous and generous. There was just one problem: his sermons had never been written out in manuscript form. Fortunately, audio recordings were available; and so, with his permission and coaching, I spent approximately 400 hours transcribing those messages and making them my own.*
I listened to so many of Pastor Brooks’s evangelistic sermons that I started to sound like him. This internationally known evangelist took some of his precious time to mentor me. As I look back, I am deeply grateful for his kindness and Christian humility. He regularly spoke to thousands at public meetings and tens of thousands through an international television ministry, but he wasn’t too busy to mentor a young pastor. I will always remember his kindness and, by God’s grace, replicate it.
This special issue of Ministry is devoted to the theme of evangelism—both personal and public. In its broadest sense, evangelism is reaching lost people with the good news about God’s love. That self-sacrificing love is most clearly revealed through the incarnation, life, death, resurrection, heavenly ministry, and imminent return of Jesus. Evangelism is the reason why the Christian church exists. Evangelism can and should happen in all places and at all times through friendship evangelism, personal Bible studies, small-group evangelism, health evangelism, house of prayer evangelism, and public evangelistic meetings.
In the lead article for this issue, Shane Anderson shares his experience as a frontline pastor/evangelist. His convictions are clear and his example inspiring. I was especially blessed by his practical suggestions at the conclusion of his article.
Willie Taylor affirms the importance of evangelistic endeavors and then goes on to share three vital strategies that will help a ministry team get the job done: efficiency, empowerment, and execution. He writes from his experiences as a pastor and church administrator. This manuscript is intensely practical and provides helpful counsel for pastors.
Joe Webb, a well-known advocate for personal and public evangelism, reminds us of the essential foundation for effective evangelistic work: personal spiritual preparation. Webb asserts that we must go beyond the sharing of biblical information and communicate a firsthand salvation experience. Then, in the context of a deepening relationship with God, we will not simply try to do the Spirit’s work—we will gladly do His bidding.
Ministry is an international journal with a global audience. With that in mind, Joe Kidder’s article, “Insights From Growing Adventist churches in North America,” might seem rather narrow in its focus. However, we challenge you to glean practical suggestions from this article and apply them to your local context.
While we’re busily involved in our ministry activities, Roger Hernandez reminds us not to neglect our families. Don’t be described as a terrific pastor but a terrible spouse, or a marvelous preacher but a miserable parent. This article is painfully honest and sorely needed.
We would like to hear your reaction to these articles in this issue. You can share your feedback by going to our Web site, www.ministrymagazine.org, clicking “contact,” and then clicking “write to the editors.” While you’re at our Web site, remember to sign up for the complimentary digital version of this journal. If you are currently receiving a print copy, a digital version is available to you at no extra cost. Many subscribers have already taken advantage of this offer. You’ll find the instructions on the main page of our Web site.
We consider it a privilege to serve the Lord together. Let’s continue to “keep on praying for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18, NIV).
* If you would like a copy of these transcribed and edited sermons, go to our Web site, www.ministrymagazine.org, and look for the “evangelistic sermons” link.