“Evangelizing is the simple preaching of the gospel that people may respond
with a hearing of faith.”
One of my earliest childhood memories of watching television (beyond John Wayne movies and Detroit Lions football games) is that of sitting on the floor at home watching the televised Billy Graham Crusades with my parents. As I heard Rev. Graham preach the clear gospel message, many times my heart would beat faster with conviction of the truth. When I wasn’t listening to every word I remember thinking about how cool “live” television broadcasts were – places I couldn’t be, but where people were gathered to hear about Jesus. I was captivated by the choir, the camera feeds and the faces of people as they heard the message.
Where have all the public crusades like this gone? Are they just for outreaches done “over there” in some location in the bush? Oh yes I know we have to be careful using the word “crusade” because it sounds militant, but what role do public proclamations of the Gospel have today in sharing the Gospel? Has the time for them come and gone? Is our culture too sophisticated or just too jaded for these types of gatherings?
This month we’ll take a look at some of those questions as we focus on the matter of proclamation evangelism. Read what The Cape Town Commitment says about evangelism.
In the opening article on this topic, Richard Gibbons, Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Greenville, South Carolina, asks the question, “How then does an institutional group like the Church, which a postmodern generation perceives as arrogantly claiming to have a monopoly on timeless truths, begin to impact a generation with the transforming power of the Gospel?” How do we move, he asks, beyond “body language and . . . conversational tones” to sharing Christ effectively.
In a companion article Derek Simpson, Evangelist and Pastor of Leominster Baptist Church, UK, says he’s concerned by what he sees as, “a lack of confidence in preaching.” Derek shares an experience in which one church cancelled a mission he was to lead as an evangelist. The reason? A church officer claimed that, “if churches didn’t use evangelists to lead missions and to preach, the congregation would evangelize.” However sadly that didn’t happen. So, where does this leave the role of the evangelist in the life of the church?
Graham Power, Founder and Chairman of the Global Day of Prayer and Unashamedly Ethical movements, responds to Derek’s article by saying, “Of course we must inspire, equip and train our Church members to evangelize. However, we also cannot deny that there are some women and men who have a great gift for proclamation evangelism!”
Robert Siakimotu, President of Open Air Campaigners, Auckland, New Zealand, says unfortunately many people look on preaching as “old fashioned and no longer needed today. He disagrees, emphasizing that, “We must continue to ‘preach’ the Gospel of CHRIST at any given opportunity but it is also very important for me to ‘live’ according to the message that I preach. Righteousness, Integrity and Honesty to name a few characteristics, are powerful evangel as well authentic testimony in a life of the Evangelist or Pastor who ‘proclaim’ the Gospel.”
Thomas Johnston, Professor of Evangelism at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, explores the relationship between proclamation and evangelism by taking us back to the original Greek terms.
Lee Saville, a missionary in Romania, says simply, “Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, indeed all in the body of Christ need to find meaningful ways of genuinely working together in unity and in love and where the Kingdom is more important to us than our individual ministries.”
Raphael Anzenberger, an Evangelist with France-Evangelisation, responds by putting forth three major points in the discussion:
What do you think? Does your church or ministry respect the work of the evangelist? What role does proclamation evangelism play in the local church in your region?
Join The Conversation on this issue!
My thanks to Blair Carlson, Lausanne Movement Senior Associate for Proclamation Evangelism, and his assistant, Carol Guenter, for their help in gathering these articles for the Conversation. Blair and Carol also serve with GoodWord Partnership (www.goodwordpartnership.org), which focuses on evangelistic missions, schools of evangelism and networking evangelists.
Mission Africa Resources
Additional resources will be added throughout the month.