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FIRST-PERSON: Evangelize to revitalize

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP) — With all the talk about church revitalization these days and how the majority of our churches need to be revitalized, let’s keep in mind that there is no church revitalization apart from church evangelization.

When it’s time for a church to revitalize, it’s time for a church to evangelize.

We read in the Psalms, “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:5-6).

For a church to be revitalized, keep in mind:

The principle of sowing

Drawing from agriculture, the psalmist takes us to the heart of the matter of church revitalization: sowing and reaping.

The church at Laodicea (see Revelation 3:14-22), like many of our churches today, had ceased from doing the “first works,” namely, sowing the Gospel, sharing the Gospel and scattering the Gospel. Our churches will never experience revitalization without getting back to the “first works.” People are having a hard time getting saved because we’re not sharing Jesus with them. There is no harvest without first sowing.

Here’s what the principle of sowing and reaping looks like:

* You reap what you sow.

* You reap after you sow.

* You reap more than you sow.

We’re going to have to sow our way into church revitalization.

The priority of sowing

The seed bearer’s priority is seed sowing. “My main business,” Charles Spurgeon said, “is the saving of souls. This one thing I do.” And it is a joyous venture; as Spurgeon put it, “Soul-winning keeps the heart lively.”

C.S. Lewis, in speaking to theology students of this priority, said, “Woe to you if you do not evangelize.”

Sowing the Gospel was the priority of Jesus, the master soul-winner who tells us in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Sowing the Gospel is the priority of God the Father who tells us in 2 Peter 3:9 that He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

Why would God give His Son as a sacrifice and substitute for sinners like us? The priority of souls! No wonder we read in Luke 19 that Jesus “wept over” Jerusalem as He saw their lostness. Because too many of us no longer see people like God sees people, our tears have all but dried up. Where are the tears for lost souls across the Southern Baptist Convention?

The promise of sowing

As the psalmist declared, the one who weeps and sows “shall doubtless come again rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”

We hear the apostle Paul saying in Galatians 6, “… for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” Here is the promise of sowing: reaping always follows sowing!

We’ve been hearing various candidates running for the office of president of the United States traveling across America talking about starting a revolution. We need a Revitalization Revolution in our churches and it will begin with evangelism. There is no church revitalization apart from evangelism. Let’s determine to find ways to sow our way into revitalization.

    About the Author

  • Ernest L. Easley

    Ernest Easley is professor of evangelism at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., and former pastor of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga.

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