YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO THE CHURCH
By Randy Bowerman
One of the most important and yet overlooked aspects in the ministry of the evangelist is his relation ship to the church. As an evangelist, you will some times feel that the awesome weight of the responsibility of revival rests totally on your shoulders. It may be true that the success or failure of the revival campaign does depend a great deal upon you, yet with out the church you would not be able to truly fulfill the calling that God intended for you.
In Ephesians 4:11-12, we read that the ministry of the evangelist is, along with the other ministries, for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ. The “work of the ministry” could be considered the reaching of lost souls. The “perfecting or maturing of the saints” and the “edifying or building up of the body of Christ,” however, have to do with the relationship of the evangelist to the church.
YOU AND THE CHURCH
You may feel as though you could go out and have great revival meetings by yourself and with your capabilities, but without the church you would not get very far. The Apostle Paul told the church at Corinth in I Corinthians 3:9, “For we are laborers together with God: Ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” God’s perfect plan for the ministry is a man and the church. One without the other would be virtually useless. However, God’s man and the church together can accomplish great things in the work of God. If you have not realized the significance of the church body and the influential role it plays, then it could be that you need to appraise this particular facet of your ministry.
THE CHURCH IS PEOPLE
When I first started on the evangelistic field, I remember going with no actual forethought of the congregation in mind. Pastors would invite me to come and hold a revival for them at their churches, but it did not really dawn on me then that I was not going merely to preach in a church, but to minister to people, people who are real-in-life individuals composing the body of Christ. I can actually recall standing in the pulpit preaching and yet not really looking into the eyes and faces of those to whom I was supposed to be preaching. In a way, I was shooting over them with my ministry because I had not really realized just what the church was. I guess I saw the church as only a building or as just another place to hold a revival.
Then one day after months of seemingly fruitless ministry, I awakened to the fact that I had been failing to touch the lives of the people. I was faced with the reality that even though I had been preaching in churches, revival after revival, and night after night, somehow I had missed the mark of true ministry. It was a great day when I woke up to this fact and began seeing the church as people instead of just a building full of insignificant faces.
Ephesians 1:23 tells us that the church is the body of Christ, the fulness of him that fills all in all. If we are to be successful as evangelists in the eyes of God, we must be ministers to the people who are the body of Christ.
YOUR ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE CHURCH
The way you personally view the saints of the church will to a great degree influence the way you are received in your revivals. Psychologists tell us that ninety percent of people-to-people communication is done, not through the spoken voice, but through human spirit correspondence. People can tell what you think about them. They know if you are sincere in your endeavors or if you see them as just an opportunity to preach for another week’s paycheck. If you are not really concerned about ministering to them, it will not have to be announced; they will know.
The evangelist that is out only to promote himself instead of God and His work is only fooling himself. People are tired of the counterfeit evangelist who comes only to lift up himself. They are looking for someone who is real in every sense of the word, some one who really cares about them and the revival.
Having grown up in Pentecost, I have watched many different evangelists preach revivals in my home church. I have always admired the ministry of the evangelist, and as a boy I could always be found sit ting close to the front watching in awe his every move. I observed the ways they operated and conducted themselves in their various ministries.
Several of these men have made lasting impressions upon my life. Perhaps the reason I am an evangelist today is that most of these men influenced me in a beneficial way. However, I remember one evangelist that I determined would not be a good one to pattern my ministry after. He would come in about thirty minutes late for service, making his grand entrance so that everyone would be sure to notice him. During the course of the service, he rarely worshiped with the congregation. When the pastor turned the service to him, he would step into the pulpit and really come alive expecting the church to do the same. The message was preached, the invitation given. After pacing back and forth across the platform for awhile, he would exit usually without speaking to anyone. The people really wanted a revival, but feeling his distant attitude towards them, they withdrew and resisted his futile ministry. They realized they had only been decoys to this insensitive evangelist.
If any evangelist portrays insincere actions to wards the church perhaps it is because he has a poor attitude of the people. Our direct and even indirect actions towards people are derived from the way we think about them. Zig Ziglar, a popular speaker and author, says that a good check up from the neck up will reveal the stinking thinking that depicts our attitude.
How do you view the people of the churches that you preach in? What are your thoughts towards them?
Are you just preaching a revival or do you really care about ministering to people in an enriching and beneficial way? It is only through a genuine concern and a caring spirit that you can successfully minister to the church congregation during a revival. Be sincere, honest, and friendly towards the people of the church even when you are out of the pulpit and they will respond to your ministry when you are in it.
Just as important as it is to care about the church, it is equally important to avoid overdoing your friendliness towards them. You don’t have to be a Pentecostal politician to let people know you care about them. Many an evangelist has lost his reputation with churches and with pastors simply because he came on too strong with a butter-up type personality.
I have found that it is good to stay around the platform area for a few minutes after the service is over. This will allow the people to visit and fellowship with you and your wife. Don’t worry about trying to impress people by attempting to be someone that you’re not. Just be yourself and people will like you for what you are.
Ministerial ethics is something that we as preachers must continually be aware of if we are to have a good report among the brethren. On the same token, as an evangelist your “evangelistic ethics” are of even greater importance. You must always remember that, as an evangelist, you are ministering in territory that you do not own or control. You are there by the invitation of the pastor, who is the shepherd over that particular flock. He is your host and you are his guest. You will only be there for a few short weeks during the revival, but he will be there for years. You are there for the sole purpose of having a revival, not to straighten out every problem in the church. Involve yourself in evangelism and avoid any differences, if any, between saints or between saints and pastor.
If you happen to run into a situation where the pastor is either insecure in his leadership or jealous of his saints, be extra careful not to offend him by step ping across the boundaries that he has built around his church. Never give a pastor any reason to say that you were trying to steal his sheep away from him. He is hurting himself and his church by his insecurity in not allowing anyone else to minister to his people. How ever, most pastors are confident in their leadership capacity and realize they need the help of the five-fold ministry to truly feed their flock. When you come to their church for revival, they are glad you are there and they are not worried about your stealing their sheep. It is in churches with pastors like this that you can have your greatest revivals.
PRINCIPLES TO PRACTICE
At times you will be invited out for refreshments or to dinner by a member of the church. On these occasions it is best to cordially say, “We’ll be glad to come. You talk to the pastor and when it is convenient for him and his family, we’ll come together.” Sometimes they may say that the pastor was not going to be invited. Under these conditions you should kindly excuse yourself by telling them that you would rather not come without the pastor. This will save you from getting into a strained situation.
On occasion the women of the church will bring various food items and desserts during a revival. There are some churches that are not accustomed to doing this but there are others that bring in enough food for an army. This can really be rough, especially if you are trying to fast or diet.
The story is told of one evangelist who had this problem. His family found it impossible to eat all of the food and they did not know what to say when the ladies of the church asked how they enjoyed the food. The fellow solved his problem by hanging a sign on the trash can which read “The Spot.” Then when asked how the food was, they could always say, “It really hit the spot.”
Of course, this is only a story and I would hope that no one would actually do this. When the food comes in abundance be thankful and be sure to commend the church for their kindness. The next church may not be so thoughtful.
If a member offers you tithes, you should always refuse and let the pastor know about it. The tithes belong to the pastoral ministry of the church. If a member should give you an offering of any kind out side of the regular offering and collection, this too should be told to the pastor. Sometimes a saint will override their giving to the pastor and give to the evangelist. This is wrong and you should not accept it. As an evangelist, God will take care of your support through the offerings of the church.
I know one evangelist who refuses to preach at certain churches because of their size. When asked why he replied: “Because they are small they wouldn’t be able to give me a very good offering.” I have found, however, that this is not necessarily true. Even if it was, it would not matter because I believe God will take care of your needs wherever you are preaching.
I have found that it is good to thank the church for their offerings of support at the end of the revival. This lets them know that their giving to the support of the ministry is appreciated and not taken lightly.
After you leave a revival, it is best not to write, call, or correspond in any way with members of the church. Visiting or spending the night in saints homes would not be a good thing either, unless they were relatives.
Treat everyone the same; be friendly and cautious in your relationship with the members of the church. Always be careful to keep your ministry above reproach by employing good “evangelistic ethics” and you will be on safe ground.
The Apostle Paul said that we should walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called. The calling of the evangelist is a fantastic ministry with many rewards. In these last days, let us as evangelists step into God’s church and have the greatest revival this world has ever witnessed. Peter summed it all up pretty well: “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but as being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (I Peter 5:2-4).