Back in the first week of April I was able to attend a Pastor’s Conference on Evangelism to prepare me to become a Senior Pastor. The conference was called Together for the Gospel, which is a group of pastors who agree on one central thing: the gospel. These pastors may differ on other points of theology or church organization, but they come together for this conference because they all agree on how people get saved.
The conference was in Louisville, Kentucky because that is the home of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (one of the largest seminaries in the world). Students from the seminary, as well as pastors from all over the country were there with a total registration of over 7,000. Be encouraged that there are men proclaiming the gospel all over this country! I’ve never heard such world class speakers in all my life and I would encourage you to check out the website to view any of the sessions for free (www.t4g.org). In this article I would like to share a few takeaways I gleaned from the conference.
First, there is no flashy, new, evangelistic gimmick that causes more salvations that others. It all boils down to Christians speaking the gospel to people who are not Christians. Too many times we can emphasize the program or the event and we forget that evangelism occurs when Christians speak the gospel to non-Christians. We could have a huge outreach event, draw lots of people, but if the gospel is not spoken, we have not evangelized.
Second, when people get saved it makes God happy, really happy. How happy? Heaven throws a celebration every time someone gets saved. You can see this in the 3 parables of Luke 15. There is the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. In all 3 of these parables, Jesus says that heaven rejoices when one sinner gets saved. What an excitement for us that God would use our mouths and our words to bring about spiritual regeneration and the celebration in heaven.
Third, there is assurance that God will save His people. Now, He may not use me specifically to bring about thousands of conversions, but God will save. Thinking back to the first two of the three parables of Luke 15 you notice the certainty of God’s work in finding His sheep/coin. The verses say ‘when’ He finds it. The sheep and the coin are searched for until they are found. God gets his man. This reminds me that the gospel of Jesus Christ will still convert people, no matter what the culture does or says. Our society is moving away from Christian values, and Christianity is more marginalized than any other time in history, but that will not stop God from getting His people.
The fourth lesson is the hardest for us to admit, but it is true: all the reasons we don’t evangelize are self-centered reasons. When I heard this I snickered, but then I started to realize it was true. We say things like “I don’t know what to say,” “I’m scared,” “it could make my friendship weird,” etc. All those reasons, and other ones that are similar, are all self-centered. Would we defy the orders of our Lord (Matt 28:18-20) because of the inconveniences it will bring us? We wouldn’t do that with the Lord’s other commands, would we? But we casually dismiss the command to ‘make disciples’ because of some petty, non-eternal reasons. I told you this was the hardest one for us to admit.
I hope we look at evangelism for what it really is: a command of the Lord to speak the gospel message to non-Christians. Either we obey or disobey. It’s one or the other. But you can be greatly encouraged that God will save His people, He will. And when He does, the celebration begins anew in heaven for that sinner who has been reclaimed. What an exciting privilege for us to be a part of.
Pastor Mark Scialabba