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Local Church Evangelism

So what can we learn from reading about the success story of the Brooklyn Tabernacle in Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire? What makes their local church evangelism so successful and powerful? 1) Their evangelism is driven by the Holy Spirit, brought into action from prevailing intercessory prayer. People turned on by the Holy Spirit let the love of Christ within them shine out to those in need within the community through good deeds, good works they perform. 2) Then those people in need, warmed buy the love of Christ respond to the preached gospel of Christ and receive salvation. Let me explain. Work parties would go down into the "bad" sections of Brooklyn handing out blankets, and then invite any who wanted to go back for a warm meal and church service. Holy Spirit led good works coupled to the preaching of the gospel is a powerful form of direct local church evangelism. Usually what would happen is that a local member would spot a need somewhere in the community, and then communicate that need back to Pastor Cymbala. Pastor Cymbala would then assign a work party to that individual, who would then lead it to fulfill its task of mercy, coupled to an invitation back to church. Say someone in church heard of say a single mom with two daughters who needed assistance in moving from a house they're renting to an apartment in another town. She is on government assistance and can't afford a moving van or to hire anyone. The person who knows about this communicates this to the pastor. When a sizeable work party shows up with a moving van and moves her within three hours from start to finish and she knows its from this person's church, she sees the care and concern these people have for her. So many showed up, just for her. Her desire is to be with these warm people, so she asks when and when services are. Now let's look at this same scenario, had only two people showed up, one the person who found out, and another friend. They rent a moving van, work real hard, and seven and a half hours later, with the mom's relatives having to show up, she's finally moved into the apartment. These two church members worked their "tails" off, and the lady saw their love and concern, but must come to the conclusion that these people are good caring Christians, but she's not so sure about their whole congregation. I hope you are beginning to see that true evangelism is composed of two components--the preached gospel of Christ and the demonstrated gospel of Christ. You may ask at this point, "Where did Jesus say that good works were an important element of the gospel?" Let's see. Matthew 25:34-40. "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"

So a pastor is a coordinator and facilitator of promoting the Gospel by and through directing his "soldiers in Christ" to spiritual "hot spots", areas of need in the community, which have been brought to his attention by local members--acting out the part of recon scouts in the advance of the Gospel. The local pastor is also in charge of preaching the gospel of Christ, the Word of God in a simple, clear way.

So we see, local church evangelism marches forward on two legs, both being empowered by the Holy Spirit:

  1. Good works (Matthew 25:34-40).
  2. The preaching of the Word of God, the Gospel of Christ.

What follows are some incredible excerpts from Pastor Jim Cymbala's book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire. This book should be ordered and read in its entirety to see just how Pastor Cymbala applied these powerful principles of local church evangelism through the power of answered prevailing prayer and the Holy Spirit. You can order this book online from either:

http://www.amazon.com or http://Christianbooks.com

Evangelism in Action!

In 1972, the Brooklyn Tabernacle's spark was almost out. Then the Holy Spirit lit a fire that couldn't be quenched. Here are some short excerpts from pastor Jim Cymbala's incredible story about evangelism in action, taken from his book "FRESH WIND, FRESH FIRE". This book is a must for any individual, pastor or church congregation who earnestly desire to know the true secret of evangelizing and Christian church growth.

pp. 57-58, "Trouble is one of God's great servants because it reminds us how much we continually need the Lord."

p. 58, "Prayer begets Revival, which begets more prayer."

p. 59, "The reason "other churches" don't grow: "Jim, the truth is, I couldn’t have a real prayer meeting in my church. I'd be embarrassed at the smallness of the crowd…"

p.66, "Persistent calling upon the name of the Lord breaks through every stronghold of the devil, for nothing is impossible with God. For Christians in these troubled times there is simply no other way."

p. 69, For all of us involved in preaching the gospel, performing music, publishing Christian materials, and all the rest, there is an uncomfortable message here: Jesus is not terribly impressed with religious commercialism (Mark 11:15-18). p. 70, I am dismayed by the contracts required by some contemporary musical groups. To perform a concert at your church, the stated fee will be so much (in either four or five figures) plus round trip airfare--often first class, not coach. Every detail of the accommodations is spelled out, down to "sushi for twenty persons" waiting at the hotel, in one case. All this is done so that the group can stand before an inner-city audience and exhort the people to "just trust the Lord for all your needs." …The first century money changers were in the temple, but they didn't have the spirit of the temple…They were out of sync with the whole purpose of the Lord's house. "The atmosphere of my Father's house," Jesus seemed to say, "is to be prayer. The aroma around my Father must be that of people opening their hearts in worship and supplication. This is not a place to make a buck. This is a house for calling on the Lord."

p. 71, "The feature that's supposed to distinguish Christian Churches, Christian gatherings is the aroma of prayer…Does the Bible ever say anywhere from Genesis to Revelation "My house shall be called a house of preaching?" Does it ever say, "My house shall be called a house of music?" Of course not. The Bible does say, "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations." Preaching, music, the reading of the Word--these things are fine--but they must never override prayer as the defining mark of God's dwelling.

p. 72, "What does it say about our churches today that God birthed the church in a prayer meeting, and prayer meetings today are almost extinct?"

"The Secret of Grace"

pp. 80-81, "Paul outlines in Romans 10:13-15 a chain of events that describes New Testament salvation: "Every one who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?" Churches often refer to this passage in connection with overseas missionary work. "We need to give a good offering today in order to send out preachers" they say--which is true. But that is just the beginning of Paul's sequence. Sending leads to preaching. Preaching leads to hearing, hearing leads to believing [faith], [and] believing [faith] leads to calling on the name of the Lord." Notice that believing is not the climax…There is one more step for demonstrating a real and living faith, and that is calling out to God with all of one's heart and soul. The clearest instructions about Church life come in the Pastoral Letters where Paul tells young pastors such as Timothy…"I urge then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone…In the same chapter (vs. 8) Paul says, "I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing." That is a sign of the Christian Church.

p. 83, "Over the last 30 years more books have been written about marriage than in all the preceding 2,000 years of church history. But ask any pastor in America if there aren't proportionally more troubled marriages today than in any other era. We have the how-to's, but homes are still falling apart. The couple that prays together stays together. I don't mean to be simplistic; there will be difficult moments in any union, but God's Word is true when it says, "Call upon me, and I will help you. Just give me a chance." The same holds true for parenting…"

Again J.B. Phillips points out a great insight:

"The Holy Spirit has a way of short-circuiting human problems. Indeed, in exactly the same way as Jesus Christ in the flesh cut right through the matted layers of tradition and exposed the real issue;…so we find here [in Acts] the Spirit of Jesus dealing not so much with problems as with people. Many problems comparable to modern complexities never arise here because the men and women concerned were of one heart and mind in the Spirit…Since God's Holy Spirit cannot conceivably have changed one iota through the centuries,…He is perfectly prepared to short-circuit, by an inflow of love, wisdom and understanding, many human problems today."

p. 86, "God says to us, "Pray, because I have all kinds of things for you; and when you ask, you will receive. I have all this grace, and you live with scarcity. Come unto me, all you who labor. Why are you so rushed? Where are you running now? Everything you need, I have."

If the times are indeed as bad as we say they are…if the darkness in our world is growing heavier by the moment…if we are facing spiritual battles right in our own homes and churches…then we are foolish not to turn to the One who supplies unlimited grace and power. He is our only source. We are crazy to ignore him."

p. 97, "The key in not money; organization, cleverness, or education. Are you and I seeing the results Peter saw? Are we bringing thousands of men and women to Christ the way he did? [pastor Cymbala can rightfully ask these questions.] If not, we need to get back to His power source…"

p. 103, "When we get serious about drawing on God's power, remarkable things will happen." Acts 4:1-3, 4-14,18,21-31. "The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand. The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest's family. They had brought Peter and John before them: 'By what power or what name did you do this?' Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: 'Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple [Acts 3] and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is 'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.' Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.' When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say…Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus…After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.

On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. When the people heard this they raised their voices together in prayer to God. 'Sovereign Lord,' they said, 'you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: 'Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.' Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.' After they had prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly."

What you just read was an early Christian prayer meeting, held to meet a governmental threat head-on--David and Goliath style.

p. 105, The prayer of the early believers recorded in Acts 4 highlights three fundamentals from which we are in danger of sliding away: [1] "Enable your servants to speak your word…[2] with great boldness…[3] Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders" (vv. 29-30)."

p. 112, "The trouble with man-made novelties is that they don't produce the impressive results that are often advertised."

p. 113, "There is no better example of God's moving mightily in a city than the account told in Acts 11:20-21, "…men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks…telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord." Such a harvest occurred that Barnabas was dispatched from Jerusalem to check things out. "When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad…And a great number of people were brought to the Lord" (vv. 23-24). Who were these men who launched such a mighty church…? We don't know their names. We don't know their methodology…whether they were pre-millennial or postmillennial or amillennial. But we do know a couple of things: They spread "the Good News about the Lord Jesus," and "the Lord's hand was with them" (vv. 20-21)."

p. 115, "Let's forget the novelties. If we prevail in prayer, God will do only what he can do. How he does things, when he does them, and in what manner are up to him. The name of Jesus, the power of his blood, and the prayer of faith have never lost their power over the centuries."

p. 121, "When I ask fellow pastors the same question, I get the same answer--plus two others: "Membership is at five-fifty, we've just finished a new education wing, and our gross income this year will top out at $400,000." Attendance, Buildings, and Cash, A-B-C. The new holy trinity."

p. 122, "No church, including the one I pastor, should be measured by its attendance."

pp. 122-123, "Then what kind of spiritual things DO matter in a book-of-Acts church? The apostles' prayer in Acts 4 provides our next benchmark: [2] "Enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness" (v. 29). What the disciples wanted was not numbers but an essential quality that would keep them BEING the church God intended. Boldness can only be imparted by the Holy Spirit."

p. 124, "The apostles realized that without a bold aggressive attitude in proclaiming God's Word, they would not build the church Jesus intended, the apostles weren't trying to finesse people. They had not the faintest intention of asking, "What do people want to hear? How can we draw people to church on Sunday?"…The Bible does not say we should aim at numbers but rather urges us faithfully to proclaim God's message in the boldness of the Holy Spirit. This will build God's church God's way."

p. 125, "God nowhere asks anyone to have a large church. He only calls us to do his work, proclaiming his Word to people he loves under anointing power of the Holy Spirit to produce results that only he can bring about."

p. 135, ""There will come a day, Paul says, when all our work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work" (I Cor. 3:13). The gold, silver, and precious stones will endure while the wood, hay, and straw will go up in smoke. Paul doesn't say that the QUANTITY will be tested. He says nothing about attendance totals. Everything will focus on QUALITY… "What's the difference between these materials, besides the obvious--that one group is fireproof while the other isn't?" Wood, hay, straw are abundant…But if you want gold, silver, and costly stones, you have to "dig" for them. They're not just lying around everywhere. You have to go deep into the earth. To me, these words are profound. Spiritual "construction" that uses wood, hay and straw comes easy--little work, little seeking, no travail, no birthing. You just slap it up and it will look adequate--for awhile. But if you want to build something that will endure on Judgment Day, the work is much more costly."

p. 138, [Part III of the Acts 4 formula], "BEYOND HEAD KNOWLEDGE: The absent element is what is expressed in the final sentence of the prayer recorded in Acts 4: [3] "Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders.""

p. 139, "In too many churches today, people don't see manifestations of God's power in answer to fervent praying. Instead, they hear arguments about theological issues that few people care about."

p. 140, "People pay attention when they see that God actually changes persons and sets them free. When a new Christian stands up and tells how God has revolutionized his or her life, no one dozes off. When someone is healed or released from a life-controlling bondage, everyone takes notice. William Law, an English devotional writer of the early 1700's wrote, "Read whatever chapter of Scripture you will, and be ever so delighted with it--yet it will leave you as poor, as empty and unchanged as it found you unless it has turned you wholly and solely to the Spirit of God, and brought you into full union with and dependence upon Him."

One way to recognize whether we suffer from this disconnection is to look at our concern for people who are dirty…people who are "other"…people who don't fit the core group's image. The ravages of sin are not pleasant--but they are what Jesus came to forgive and heal. "The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost" (Luke 19:10). Yet Christians often hesitate to reach out to those who are different. They want God to clean the fish before they catch them."

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