Where Have All the Evangelists Gone (February 17, 2013)

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“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.” This parable is from the Gospel of Matthew chapter 25 verses 14-28. Over the course of my life I must have heard this parable preached on dozens of times. I have read it at least twice as many times. All these times with these words of Christ, and I finally just got it. And it’s good timing too, as it is an important part of this series on evangelism. At some point in time we have learned that every new believer receives a spiritual gift. When we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we were given at least one spiritual gift. What was the purpose of that gift. Why did God bestow on us that particular gift? Was it to make us look good on the inside? Did God use our hearts as a mantle to rest this special gift upon? No. God gave us gifts to use to help minister. This is where that expression can come into play. God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called. God has given us gifts to use to be effective ministers in what ever area he chooses. That is what this parable we just read talks about. The gifts we are given. With the Master out of town we are each given charge over the use of our gifts. To some the Master gave a lot, to some he gave some, and to others still he gave little. But to each was given according to his ability. Jesus gives us the gifts to use to invest in his church, but he only gives us what he knows we can use. That means he knows our abilities, he knows what we are capable of. He entrusts us to be good stewards of his gifts. He entrusts us to make the investment in others. How much has Jesus left in your care? I did some research. A talent is worth 3000 denarii. According to Matthew 20:2 –one denarii is a days wage. That’s a whole lot of money. If we bring it into modern terms and say a person makes minimum wage. Here in Massachusetts, minimum wage is $8.00 per hour. Times that by 8 hours that gives us $64.00 per day. That would mean that one denarii is worth $64.00. Now there are 3000 denarii in one talent. That means we take $64 and multiply it out we get $192,000. We work 260 days per year. So an average person, working 8 hours per day, 40 hours per week will earn $16,640 per year. Jesus gives us a least one talent worth of gifts. That’s enough to cover 11 and half years of wages. And that’s just the bare minimum of what Jesus gives. To some Jesus entrusted two talents, to some he gave 5 talents. That’s $384,000, and $960,000 respectively. Jesus is very wealthy and he has entrusted each and every one of us with a special gift. Some he has entrusted with several gifts. What do we do with them? I think at some point in time we have all asked that question-What would I do if I won the lottery? What would I do with a million dollars? Christians, the national average for individual annual income is about $43,000. That means a talent is worth almost half a million dollars! We have won the lottery! We have a million dollars! Why do many of live like our master has left us impoverished! If we invest that which the master left in our care it will increase in value. The gifts that Jesus has entrusted us with are valuable in the marketplace. Other people see value in them. So much so that when we invest them our investment doubles. Using our gifts in a profitable way increases the gifts we have! Church this is what Jesus has done. While he’s away, while we wait for his return, we must be found investing the gifts that he has left us. Pardon this play on words, but we must use our talents, the ability to minister in some fashion, to help further and strengthen the kingdom. And again I quote from that hymn we must “rescue the perishing, care for the dying, snatch them in pity from sin and the grave; weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen, tell them of Jesus the mighty to save. Rescue the perishing, duty demands it…” It is our gifts that Jesus gave to us, that make it possible for us to minister in his name. It is our gifts that give us the ability to evangelize. It is our gifts that give us the ability and the heart for the lost and dying. It is our gifts that make it so we can reach out for the lost and dying. But what if we don’t use our gifts? Then we become like the third man in this parable. When we must give an account for the master’s gift, we are found to be unprofitable and lazy. We are found too scared to make the investment. We are found too ashamed of our master! As a result we lose that gift. Listen to this story “Kierkegaard told a parable of a wild duck that became exhausted in the annual migration and was left behind by the other ducks. The duck landed in a farmer’s barnyard where it was fed daily and associated with the tame ducks. For a while, every time a flock of wild ducks flew over the barnyard, the duck had the urge to join them. But since life was so easy in the barnyard, it stayed. During all this time, the duck did not fly. The next year a flock of wild ducks flew over. The “call of the wild” was so strong that the duck was determined to join them. Alas, when it tried to fly it, it could no longer do so. The duck had lost the ability by failing to use it.” If we don’t use we will lose it. Being left giftless, is not all that it’s quacked up to be.

In Ephesians four we read “…He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelist, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”. Evangelists are gifts to the Church. Jesus gives us these people full of purpose, full of passion to minister in specific ways throughout his Church. Everyone of these types of people have played important roles in the development of the church. The church we have today is because of these people. But note, today there are fewer evangelists. There are fewer men out there growing the faith. Why is that? We read of great revivals started by men of God, evangelizing. Several of these revivals started with men who lived within an hour’s drive of our church! Whose ministries help shaped an evangelical movement in this part of the country. But over time, look at what’s happened. The world view on evangelism has crept into our churches making it seem like evangelists are a bunch of crazy people who speak of radical things and should be avoided. We’ve known some evangelists here though. We had revival services here back in 2006 and had evangelist Kent York. The Campbells and the Browders are both music evangelists. Allan Frink is an evangelist. But they are so few. Where have they all gone? How can we get them back? Let’s look at Matthew 9:37-38 where Jesus said to his disciples“…The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” We need to pray. We need to pray for evangelists. Unfortunately, we have shifted most of our ministry prayers over to missionaries. Now don’t get me wrong. Missionaries need our prayers. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t pray for missionaries. What I’m saying is that we need to also be praying for evangelists and their ministries. We need to pray that God will raise up more people to be evangelists. We need to be aware, that using our gifts according to Christ’s purpose could very well be the beginning of an evangelist’s ministry. What you have, as a God given talent could be used to lead someone to Christ, who through your efforts may one day be a successful evangelist. Perhaps, even the use of our gifts, might encourage one of us to grow in such a way that we will, by the call of Jesus, be given that gift of evangelism. (point)You may be a future evangelist. Pray Christians! Pray that the Lord may open your eyes and your heart, that you may be a source of encouragement to a brother in Christ. Your words, your actions, how you use your gifts can motivate and encourage another Christian. Invest yourself in them. Invest the talents that the master has given you, and you will reap not only a profit, but rewards in heaven. Don’t be like the world and give all honour and praise to the therapists instead of evangelists. Instead, give honour to God and the gifted he has called-the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and the teachers. Evangelism. It is the missing word in churches. It is missing from our lips. It is missing from our programs. It is missing in our works. Is it missing in our hearts too? Because evangelism is the missing word in churches today, evangelists are the missing people in our churches. Imagine what this church, nay what this country, nay what this world would be like if every church had an evangelist in its membership! Then could we truly fulfill the great commission!

I’ve talked to some evangelists. They have become discouraged. Churches have made no effort to prepare for their coming. Churches are not praying for them. Churches are not letting people know when an evangelist is coming or what an evangelist can do through Christ in their lives. All too often, evangelists arrive at a church to preach to only a handful of the “faithful”. Sometimes, the Pastor’s not even at the service. As a result his sheep scatter. If you’re having an evangelist come to your church then let people know, let other churches know. Promote it, advertise it, get talking about it, get other people excited to go. For I guarantee you, that at least one of those people will be touched upon hearing the evangelist. And perhaps at least one of those people will be saved. And that, brothers and sisters, is what makes the effort well worth it. It gives us reason to rejoice. In Luke 15:10 it is written “…there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Let’s look at Malachi 3:8-10 “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house”. We have all heard this verse at some point in time. We refer to it to verify that God does want our tithes and offerings. Why then, when I am speaking on evangelism would I bring up this verse? We have a responsibility to meet the needs of the evangelists. We all recognize the need to take care of our Pastor. But what of the evangelist who travels half way across the country to your church? He has expenses. He has the same financial needs that a Pastor does if not more. Who pays for him? Who sees to it that they don’t go hungry. Who sees to it that they are able to pay for housing, a vehicle, Insurance, medical bills. What happens when no church will have them some weekend. What if two or three weekends go by without a church booking them? How do they pay for their needs. We always talk about God meeting our needs. The evangelists’ needs are only met when the churches step up and provide for them. When we don’t support our evangelists financially then we are robbing God. We are not giving what God has called us to give. As a result we are missing out on the outpouring of blessings that God would bestow on us. It is shameful, to hear of churches not taking care of their evangelists. I know churches that have said that the check is in the mail. Only to find out that they couldn’t deliver an agreed upon fee. I know of churches that take an love offering for the evangelists, and only give a part that offering to them. The church keeps the rest. I know of churches that take love offerings for their evangelists and you will find no denomination bigger than a one dollar bill in the plate. But I also know of churches with great charity. They establish a bare bones fee to make sure that the evangelist’s needs are met. They feed the evangelists and they put gas in the evangelist’s vehicle, and they provide lodging for the evangelists, and then will take up a love offering for them. We have allotted monies from our budgets to make room for the missionary, let’s also consider the evangelists. We need to make room for them once more. We need to ensure that the evangelist will always be supported. They are a major key to our church growth. They are necessary and they are missing. Let’s begin to do again those things that Jesus commanded us to do. Let us go forth and share the truth that Jesus saves. Let us go forth and remember the gifts which Jesus bestowed upon us. Let us go forth and use those gifts that we may be found profitable when the master returns. Let’s encourage each other with our gifts and in our gifts, that the full potential we have as ministers in the name of Jesus Christ may be fully realized. Let us remember the evangelists and lift their discouragements. Let’s keep them in prayer, let’s keep them paid. Let’s keep our churches growing through evangelism. And let our churches keep growing evangelists.

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