This week, our church has enjoyed worship services that would be normally classified as ‘revival meetings’. It has been a wonderful series of services with evangelists Bro. Charles Miller, who has led worship, and Bro. Michael Mason. Both men have yielded to the Holy Spirit and led and preached as the Lord has called them to do. I appreciate both of these men for their service to the Lord and for the way that they have led us during the week. I pray that seeds of revival have been planted and that they will be nurtured for future growth. With revival in mind, I would like to share a thought or two about the reception of an evangelist in the church.
I am reminded of a conversation that I had with one of my mentors, the late Bro. George Blakney. Bro. George was a quiet man…a gentle giant, if you will. He never saw the need to speak any more than necessary. But, when he spoke, you listened to what he said or you missed a lot of humorous wit sprinkled in with a vast amount of Godly wisdom. On one particular occasion, Bro. George and I were
discussing the messages of an evangelist who had just led a series of services at our church. This particular evangelist really laid the spiritual hammer down. Each night was filled with equal opportunities for us to have our toes stepped on as he preached a powerful message from the Lord.
After discussing several very bold, straight-forward, convicting statements that the evangelist had made, Bro. George looked at me without a trace of a grin and said, “He can come in, say those things, go home, and not have to face the music next week.”
I have never gotten over that statement, made by one of the most kind, compassionate pastors that I have ever known. Bro. George simply stated a truth that is prevalent in today’s church, and it’s a sad truth indeed. When an evangelist visits a church, he generally has freedom to preach. No topic is off-limits. The evangelist will speak about the tough topics that make us cringe. When the evangelist preaches about those topics, he does with power and boldness through the Holy Spirit. Night after night, as the crowd exits the church and shakes the evangelist’s hand, you can hear member after member as they thank him for such a powerful, convicting message.
In contrast, in many of our churches today, the Sunday morning pastor has to hurdle the landmines of disgruntled church members if he chooses to preach boldly on those same "tough" topics. If the same message that the evangelist preaches is presented by the Sunday morning pastor with the same passion, then consequences will follow. You may hear comments/criticisms from church members such as "I wish our pastor wasn’t so negative" or "Why does our pastor have to be so mean when he preaches?" These will be the same voices that laud praises of thankfulness on the visiting evangelist for the same exact messages…the same exact statements…the same exact passion. This should not be so.
Here’s what I know. I am a pastor of a rural church. No, I’m not a senior pastor, but I am a pastor. I care deeply about every single member of our congregation. I love them all with all of my heart. Any time that I get the opportunity to deliver a message that is inspired by the Lord’s urging, I say and do exactly what He leads me to do. I never enter the pulpit to preach or lead worship with a selfish agenda. Some of the messages that the Lord leads me to share are fun and easy to preach and teach. Some of those messages are uncomfortable and are tough for all of us to swallow. But I grant you this one guarantee: I have never delivered any message with anything in my heart other than love for my fellow church members. In fact, I love them all so much that I refuse to give them anything other than the full, complete message that the Lord has placed on my heart. And I refuse to deliver the message with anything less that the power and passion that He leads me to deliver it with. I love my church family so much that it is my heart’s desire for every single one of them to live the abundant life that can only be found in Christ. In fact, I deliver many messages with such a fierce passion because I need to hear that particular message from the Lord as much as anyone else. Powerful messages from the Lord should always be delivered with a heart full of love for the Lord and love for the church family. Just as I feel so much love towards members of my church, I feel extremely confident that your pastor feels the same way about you. He cares for your soul. He loves you, and he loves you enough to tackle the tough topics and preach the hard messages. He will be accountable to the Lord for every message that he preaches and word that he shares in the name of Jesus. He is not mean. He is not being negative. He is being obedient to the Lord.
So I urge you, dear church member, allow your pastor the same liberty to preach as you allow the visiting stranger that fills your pulpit for a revival service. Remember that your pastor is not only accountable to God for what he chooses to say, but also for what he chooses not to say. Remember that your pastor will be directly disobeying the Lord if he does not speak every single word that the Holy Spirit leads him to share. And finally, remember that while the evangelist is answering his calling to touch your life over the course of a few days, your pastor has developed a relationship with you and he loves you enough to answer his calling to touch your life for weeks, months, and years at time…
Scott Bouldin is the Executive Pastor of Worship & Education at Kennedy Baptist Church, in Kennedy, AL, and founder of Scott Bouldin Ministries, a worship & evangelism ministry that focuses on church revitalization & domestic missions. You can follow Scott on Twitter (@ScottBouldin), on Facebook (ScottBouldinMinistries), and on Instagram (@ScottBouldinMin).