SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–As part of my joyful responsibility as president of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists, I recently participated in the dedication of the new exhibit of the Evangelists Hall of Faith at the North American Mission Board in Alpharetta, Ga.
Leading a group of speakers and musicians, Dr. Cliff Barrows of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association was our keynote speaker. Without question, this was one of the most inspiring events of my 52 years of ministry. You must take your first opportunity to visit this beautiful room honoring the ministries of the 30 original inductees of the Hall of Faith.
While sitting on the platform listening to the list of Hall of Faith inductees being read, and with each of their photos shown on the large screen, I had distinct personal memories of nearly every one of them. As a pastor for 36 years, I used evangelists to help my churches bring in the harvest. I doubt if there was a single year of my pastoral ministry that we did not have an evangelist in my pulpit. We were richly rewarded by their ministry and usually led our state convention in baptisms. I realized even then that the evangelist was God’s gift to the church and the wise pastor would take advantage of the opportunity to use them to strengthen the church and win the lost to Christ. But, some would say that was an era which is now past.
Recently, however, the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, the North American Mission Board, and associations in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas entered into partnership for simultaneous revivals and a two-day conference at Mid-America on the subject of reconnecting the church with local revivals and the use of the vocational evangelist. The conference was helpful to pastors, evangelists and seminary students. We hope it will be the first of other such events to take place across the nation.
As part of that simultaneous event, I preached a meeting for the First Baptist Church of Batesville, Miss. From Saturday night through Monday night we had exceptional attendance and a total of more than 45 professions of faith. The church had prepared well and God blessed with a harvest of souls. I and many other evangelists are experiencing this in church after church where the pastor and the people have prepared well.
New research has once again indicated that churches who schedule and use evangelistic events experience significantly more conversions and baptisms than those who do not plan such events. The research goes a step further and indicates that the number of baptisms was even higher for those churches who used vocational evangelists. The details of this new research will be fully revealed in May.
This research reinforces some of the reasons for the Baptism Assistance Project. This is a strategy that provides a vocational evangelist for our low and no baptism churches at little or no cost to the church. No doubt, there are many reasons so many of our churches are not seeing people saved, but one reason must be the decrease in the number of evangelistic events and the failure to use the ones given by God to the church to help with the harvest. Now, through the Baptism Assistance Project, even the smallest of our churches have the opportunity to use a vocational evangelist.
I am saddened that many of our called, gifted and dedicated evangelists wait for a call to serve while hundreds of our churches go week after week without a harvest. Pastors and evangelists have made mistakes and experienced failures through the years. But now in these crises days, pastors need the gifted evangelist and our evangelists need the support of the local church. We really do need each other. Why don’t we get together unselfishly and assist one another bringing in the harvest?
You will be blessed by scheduling a vocational evangelist for an evangelistic event in your church during the next 12 months. Pray about whom God wants you to use in your church. Then call that evangelist immediately. You may think your church is too small or too large to use a vocational evangelist, but neither is true. These evangelists are ready to go anywhere, anytime and will come by faith. Then it is your job to take care of the man of God. God will bless this biblical strategy.
This year at the SBC annual meeting in Orlando many of our evangelists will participate in Crossover to help reach lost people. Our evangelists will provide an exciting and inspirational worship service on Wednesday afternoon at the Orange County Convention Center in the same location as the Southern Baptist Convention meetings. The theme for this meeting is “Reviving the Church, Renewing the Nation, Restoring Hope!” This is another way our evangelists are seeking to be a blessing to our pastors and churches.
Ron Herrod is an evangelist based in Sevierville, Tenn. For more information visit www.ronherrod.org.