By Allen Rea
The office of the pastorate is increasingly complicated in our modern world. The men of God are now called upon to do many things because churches increasingly have unbiblical expectations of their pastors. Thankfully many churches across our state still have revivals once or twice a year. It is unfortunate that many of these revivals are not adequately prepared for.
Churches seldom do any evangelism and visitation prior to revival. Churches seldom conduct cottage prayer meetings to pray for the revival and for lost souls. As a side note, the church I pastor still practices these methods and has seen that they still work!
Pastors are especially singled out to do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5). Doing this work requires the wisdom and discernment to open your pulpit to the right preachers when it comes revival time. I have many friends that are great preachers both across the state and the entire United States. Many of these brothers are dear friends from college and seminary. They are expositors par excellence and are faithfully performing the duties of shepherd on a weekly basis.
The Chief Shepherd will doubtlessly have a crown for them when He appears (1 Peter 5:1-6). I am prayerfully concerned when pastors take on a lot of revivals and conferences for other churches and ministries. An absent shepherd is an open door for wolves (Acts 20:28-31). We are doing a great work! We must not come down! (Nehemiah 6:3).
One of the greatest temptations that a pastor faces is to build his own little kingdom. John the Baptist’s axiom for ministry is the best: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30)
One of the great things about the Body of Christ is the way that God has gifted individuals. As we look at Ephesians 4:11, we see that God gave some as “pastors and teachers”. These two are inseparably linked, for the pastor must be able to teach (1 Timothy 3:2). This verse alone should settle the seminary question for men who are called. Fellow pastors, what grace has been bestowed upon us! We serve a wonderful Lord that has entrusted us to teach His church.
Just prior to this office, Paul mentions that God gave some as evangelists. Evangelism is something that every Christian, especially pastors, should practice. However, the office of evangelist is a God-ordained office in the church. The gift of evangelism is a gift that has been given to many people in the church. We think quickly of Billy Graham, D.L. Moody, and John Wesley. Southern Baptists have had the blessing of being the home denomination to an amazing number of evangelists.
As I think of Georgia Baptist evangelists, I think fondly of Dr. Jesse Hendley, a name too scarcely mentioned in today’s world. Evangelists still exist among us Georgia Baptists!
I have had a great deal of experience using Dr. Len Turner in the churches that I pastor. With much prayer and outreach preparation, we always see souls saved and saints revived. Why? Len, like many like him, have the spiritual gift of evangelism. As Len travels from church to church, I am sure he sees Adrian Roger’s axiom ringing true: “The church will evangelize or fossilize, but it will not stand still.” I have personally seen him broken over the lack of evangelism in many churches.
As a fellow pastor, let me encourage all the pastors to prayerfully consider making your next revival about calling a man of God with the gift of evangelism. It may be difficult for a pastor to admit that he cannot do it all. As pastors, we do not have every spiritual gift. God has blessed our churches with men and women who have spiritual gifts and want to do the work of the ministry. A part of revival in our own lives as pastors is to recognize that we, though faithfully doing the work of an evangelist, are not evangelists.
The temptation, brothers, is to simply give our buddy down the road a call. Our buddy may be the next W.A. Criswell, but he has his own church to pastor. God has gifted our state with many men that He has called to be evangelists. Let us take advantage of such a wonderful gift. Our steady drop in baptisms can only be remedied by a revival of evangelism!
Evangelism is done best by the evangelists! As a pastor that has benefited mightily from the service of career evangelists, I strongly suggest that the man of God that you share your pulpit with be one of the many great evangelists that Georgia has to offer.
A list of Georgia Baptist Evangelists can be found at cogbe.org
Allen Rea is the senior pastor of Higgston Baptist Church near Vidalia. He has been married to Kara for ten years. They have three girls and a baby boy. He received his B.A. from Brewton-Parker College. He received his M.Div. from Luther Rice Seminary. He is currently seeking an D.Min. through Luther Rice Seminary.