In his book The No-Guilt Guide to Witnessing, George Sweeting tells that during a serious shortage of currency in Great Britain, Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) selected a group of men to search for silver to meet the need.
Several months later they filed this report: “We have searched the empire in vain to find silver. To our dismay, we found none except in the great cathedrals, where the saints are constructed of choice silver.”
When he heard that discouraging report, Cromwell issued this order: “Let’s melt down the saints and put them into circulation.”
As we conclude this series on Evangelism, I suggest we follow Cromwell’s advice today. Let’s put ourselves into circulation in the world around us and see what God might do through us.
Whenever the young men whom John Wesley sent out to preach returned, he would ask two questions: “Was anyone converted?” and “Did anyone get angry?” If the answer was no to both questions, he cautioned them about entering the ministry. He explained that when God’s Word is faithfully presented, people either believe or they become antagonistic.
I’ve noticed that in our church. People either feel that this is “home”, and can’t wait to come back again, or they come up with some gripe about the church and why it isn’t a “good” church. The gospel either opens hearts or it causes people to harden their hearts. We’re not responsible for how others respond to the gospel; we are, however, responsible for making sure they hear the clear gospel presentation.
What was your reaction when you first heard the gospel clearly presented?
Pastor John A. Huffman, Jr. understands evangelism well. He once told his congregation, “This sanctuary can be a salt-shaker. You can come in here once a week, have a lot of fellowship with all the other salt and think your job is accomplished. Instead, God wants to pick up this sanctuary and shake you out all over this city. He has brought you together as His salt only to scatter you. He wants you to be an influence for Jesus.”
Well said. Where is the salt needed? Whose life is messed up and needs a little of the salt God has developed within you? Keeping salt in the shaker isn’t what it was intended for. This is what you were created for, church. There should be a whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on.
A Sunday school teacher named Edward Kimball wasn’t always sure his life had much consequence. In 1858, he at least was able to lead a shoe clerk to Christ. The clerk, Dwight L. Moody, became an evangelist, and in 1879 Moody awakened an evangelistic zeal in the heart of F. B. Meyer, the pastor of a small church in New England. Meyer, preaching on a college campus, won a student named J. Wilbur Chapman to Christ.
While Chapman was engaged in YMCA work, he employed a former baseball player named Billy Sunday to help with evangelistic meetings. Sunday held a series of services in the Charlotte, N. C. area, and a group of local men were so enthused by the meetings that they planned another campaign. This time they brought preacher Mordecai F. Ham to town.
During one of his meetings, a young man named Billy Graham yielded his life to Christ. Since then, millions have heard the gospel through Graham’s ministry. Kimball had started quite a ripple effect!
Go ahead, start a ripple effect of your own.
In his book Fishing on the Asphalt, Herb Miller shares that the average church member has listened to 6,000 sermons, heard 8,000 prayers, sung 20,000 hymns over and over, and asked ZERO persons to accept Christ as personal Lord and Saviour. Wow!
Last week I met with a man who does not attend any church and whose marriage was ending in divorce. He was a broken man and was obviously open to spiritual things now more than ever. So I listened to his sad story, made some common sense suggestions, and then asked, “How do you think you stand with God right now?” He teared up and then replied, “I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.”
What an open door. He is sensitive to spiritual things, is talking to a pastor, and admits he doesn’t know where he stands with God. So I reminded him of the sin gap between him and God, and also that Christ paid for that sin when He died on the cross. “Would you like to accept Christ as your personal Savior,” I asked. “Yes.” That was all it took. A quick prayer, a few tears, and it was done. Another soul in the Kingdom.
Remember that simple question: “How do you think you stand with God right now?” Gets them thinking every time.
Pastor Larry Moore pastors a church with a Christian Day School. His wife, Karin, teaches in the school and works with her young children as any good Mom does. When their daughter, Heather, was around two years old she began to learn all the traditional fairy tales, such as “Goldilocks and the Three Bears, “The Three Little Pigs”, etc. Her parents also taught her the familiar Bible stories as well. Heather’s young mind was like a sponge and she took all of these in.
One day her mother read to her Revelation 3:20, which says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” When mother finished the verse she asked, “Heather, if Jesus is knocking at your heart’s door, will you open the door and let him in?”
Without a moment’s hesitation, Heather responded, “Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin.”
I think people in today’s American culture become confused between what they see in the movies and what is reality, just as Heather was confused. We who attempt to lead them to Christ must be very careful how we present the gospel to avoid such confusion. New life in Christ is not a fairy tale or superstition. It really works!
Back in 1997, we had just moved into our new building and were trying to sell our old building with little success. Finally a man came to see me who wanted to buy the building for his church. I asked him how many people he had coming, and he replied, “Oh, none, yet, but I’d like to start one.”
I think he got the cart before the horse. Church starts with people who need a meeting place, not a meeting place which needs people. I encouraged him to start a home Bible study and build from there, but he was determined to start with a building.
In D. L. Moody’s day, it was a common practice for people to rent a church pew rather than giving in an offering. One Sunday morning, 19-year old Moody marched down the aisle with a motley crew of society’s outcasts trailing behind him. He had rented four pews and was determined to fill them with those who were spiritually needy. Having taken the Savior’s “Go” personally (Matt. 28:19), he literally “went out into the highways and gathered together…both bad and good” (Matt. 22:10).
Let me encourage you to follow Moody’s example and invite someone to church with you think weekend. The pew’s already been paid for.