"Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19.
Happy New Year from the Soulwinnersr.us website. I started the website almost a year ago, and I pray that God blesses our efforts greatly of soulwinning in the New Year of 2022, and the Holy Spirit inspires us to introduce Jesus to people in new and exciting ways.
I entitled my post today “Happy New Year! Pentecostal Witnessing, Chapter 3: Present-Day Evangelism” by Aubrey Maye. I was going to do another post on “The Current Anti-Evangelism Wave”, but I want to do a more positive post to start the New Year.
By the way, I wrote to Pastor Aubrey Maye, and he called me this week from Chesapeake, Virginia. I was excited, and He was pleased that I was using his book that he wrote so many years ago. Pastor May said he's currently 83 years old, and he wrote the book at the age of 27 about 56 years ago, which is amazing to me. So, let’s start off the New Year with a bang on Chapter 3 of this wonderful little book!
Pastor Maye encouraged us in Chapter 3 not to be too critical of our current evangelism methods, BUT, that there’s great value in being honest with ourselves in taking an objective look at the following points related to evangelism:
- “What's being done.”
- “What can be done.”
- “What MUST BE DONE now and in the future.”.
He said “after an honest look at ourselves, we'll probably do one of three things:
- Attempt to justify our failures in evangelism by blaming the evil conditions of this generation.
- Attempt to shift the responsibility of evangelism to others.
- Rise to the task with new determination and faith.
He said, “For the sake of this lost generation, may God help us to do number three.”
Pastor Maye said that after the initial exciting wave of evangelism and Holy Spirit power at Pentecost, there were centuries of a waning in the spiritual life of the church, and of open evangelism. He said evangelism leading to conversions was replaced by rituals.
The 15th century finally ushered in the Protestant Reformation, with Martin Luther and others who turned the tide back somewhat to the right direction, but there was still a significant lack of evangelistic efforts. A focus on evangelism didn’t return until the 17th and 18th centuries with the appearance of such men as John Wesley and George Whitefield.
So, after about 1500 years of darkness with little spiritual focus, Wesley and Whitefield had great evangelistic success in England and America with thousands of lost souls saved, just like in the time of Jesus and the Early Church. It was said of Whitefield that he started preaching from a hillside, down into an open field that can still be seen today. It's estimated that he preached across the field to up to 20,000 people at one time . . . with no sound system! Periods of evangelism, however, waxed and waned in the next couple hundred years after Wesley and Whitfield.
Wesley and Whitefield were noted for mass evangelism meetings, preaching to thousands of people at a time. Mass evangelism meetings were called various names through a couple centuries: “Revival meetings”, "camp meetings", and "city-wide crusades”, to name a few, and they were greatly used by God to bring multitudes of men and women to Christ.
But mass evangelism had its limitations. Pastor Maye said that personal soulwinning among Christians was a very important supplement to mass evangelism?
Pastor Maye addressed present ideas about personal evangelism and soulwinning by considering three keys that we talked about two weeks ago:
- Soulwinning should not be limited to a few key people like a pastor or an evangelist.
- The job to evangelize should also fall on every spirit-filled Christian to "proclaim" to others the Good News of salvation.
- Pastor Maye wrote that pastors are somewhat to blame for their lack of emphasis on personal responsibility, and encouraging and teaching their flock to evangelize.
- Pastor Maye wrote, "Do we really believe that the responsibility of personal evangelism and the great power of the Holy Spirit ended for good at the end of the era of the Early Church in Acts?"
- Soulwinning doesn’t have to occur in a church building, a meeting hall, or a revival tent. Most unsaved people won't darken the door of a church, or a revival meeting hall or tent.
- We need to go to them as Jesus and the Early Church did. Pastor Maye wrote, “We have no choice! The Church has been commissioned.” He said, “Many churches, instead of growing, are actually dying because they're shackled by this church building-centered concept of evangelism.”
- Pastor Maye wrote that mass revival meetings are important, but more important is an emphasis on personal evangelism.
- Evangelism isn’t just a seasonal affair, and we don’t have to wait until the calendar says we’re ready to evangelize.
- Pastor Maye wrote, “Someone has recently suggested that most of us are so busy today working IN the church that we no longer have time for the work OF the Church . . . which is soulwinning.” Pastor Maye wrote, “We usually find time to do those things that we really want to do.
We must want earnestly to introduce Jesus to people in our communities. When we find ourselves so busy that we have little time for any evangelism and no time to train and organize our churches for soulwinning out among the unsaved, we wonder what's happened since Luke said: "Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved." Acts 2:47.
Pastor Maye discussed the following four points:
- “We must stop losing the battle to win lost souls.”
- The church is making strides in many areas such as Christian education, music, and other areas, but we’re losing the battle to reach the rising, ever-growing population that don't know Jesus.
- Cult groups such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons are growing faster than the Christian church because of their emphasis on personal outreach.
- If any group reaches out to their community it should be a group of spirit-filled believers.
- The present-day Church is faced with two alternatives.
- The First Alternative: We can continue the present pattern depending largely upon the revival meetings and other pulpit evangelism which is becoming less and less effective in reaching the sinner (because the sinners don't come). OR . . .
- The Second Alternative: We can dedicate ourselves to the training of personal soulwinners, pray for a renewal of Pentecostal power and boldness like in Acts 4:29-31, and take the Church to the lost.
- In order to accomplish this, there may have to be some changes made in local church programs.
- Necessary steps will have to be taken to put the primary purpose of the Church in its proper perspective – “that the saving of lost souls comes first!”
- Personal evangelism is encouraged in a few churches, but most times it isn’t encouraged or emphasized at all. Sometimes the youth only are taught and encouraged to evangelize. While it’s a good thing to teach and encourage youth to witness to the lost, evangelism can’t be delegated solely to the youth. It’s the responsibility of the entire Church body.
- Personal evangelism can be entered into wholeheartedly because such outreach is overwhelmingly supported by the New Testament.
- Personal evangelism offers the one possibility for a local congregation to actually present the gospel to every person in the community who will listen.
- Personal evangelism not only helps reach the lost, but the lives of individual Christians will be greatly changed, and their experiences deepened as they begin to share their experience of knowing Christ personally with the unsaved.
In conclusion, Pastor Maye wrote that revival won’t come easily. It will only come as the direct result of deliberate prayer, hard work, and action on the part of God's people.
See you next time,