Local Church Evangelism continued...
is the "Magic" formula for Evangelism,
Christian growth and revival. Now let's
see that "formula" applied--in action--and finally witness
the end results.
p. 141, "I shall never forget Easter Sunday 1992--the day
that Roberta Langella gave her dramatic testimony, as I recounted
in chapter 3. A homeless man was standing in the back of the
church, listening intently.
At the end of the evening meeting I sat down on the edge of
the platform, exhausted, as others continued to pray with
those who had responded to Christ. The organist was playing
quietly. I wanted to relax. I was just starting to unwind
when I looked up to see this man, with shabby clothing and
matted hair, standing in the center aisle about four rows
back and waiting for permission to approach me.
I nodded and gave him a weak little wave of my hand. 'Look
at how this Easter Sunday is going to end,' I thought to myself.
'He's going to hit me up for money.' That happens often in
this church. 'I'm so tired
When he came close, I saw that his two front teeth were missing.
But more striking was his odor--the mixture of alcohol, sweat,
urine, and garbage took my breath away. I have been around
many street people, but this was the strongest stench I have
ever encountered. I instinctively had to turn my head sideways
to inhale, then look back in his direction while breathing
I asked his name.
"David," he said softly.
"How long have you been homeless, David?"
"Where did you sleep last night?"
"In an abandoned truck."
I had heard enough and wanted to get this over quickly. I
reached for the money clip in my back pocket.
At that moment David put his finger in front of my face and
said, "No, you don't understand--I don't want your money.
I'm going to die out there. I want the Jesus that red-haired
girl talked about."
I hesitated, then closed my eyes. 'God forgive me,' I begged.
I felt soiled and cheap. Me, a minister of the gospel
had wanted simply to get rid of him, when he was crying out
for the help of Christ I had just preached about. I swallowed
hard as God's love flooded my soul.
David sensed the change in me. He moved toward me and fell
on my chest, burying his grimy head against my white shirt
and tie. Holding him close, I talked to him about Jesus' love.
There weren't just words; I felt them. I felt love for this
pitiful man. And that smell
I don't know how to explain
it. It had almost made me sick, but now it became the most
powerful fragrance to me. I reveled in what had been repulsive
just a moment ago.
The Lord seemed to say to me in that instant, 'Jim, if you
and your wife have any value to me, if you have any purpose
in my work--it has to do with this odor. This is the smell
of the world I died for.'
David surrendered to the Christ he heard about that night.
We got him into a hospital detoxification unit for a week.
We got his teeth fixed. [Remember the parable of the Good
Samaritan--this Christian church and pastor are putting it
into practice the way Jesus intended it to be!] He joined
the Prayer Band right away. He spent the next Thanksgiving
Day in our home. We invited him back for Christmas as well
David heads up the maintenance department at the church, overseeing
ten other employees. He is now married and a father. God is
opening more and more doors for him to go out and give his
testimony. When he speaks, his words have a weight and an
impact that many ordained ministers would covet.
As Christians reach out to touch everyone, including the unlovely
who are now everywhere in our society, God touches them, too--and
revolutionizes their lives. Otherwise we would just be circling
the wagons, busying ourselves with Bible studies among our
own kind. There is no demonstration of God's power because
we have closed ourselves off from the 'need' for such demonstration."
p. 144, "Once again, William Law writes: 'We may take for
a certain rule, that the more the divine nature and life of
Jesus is manifest in us, and the higher our sense of righteousness
and virtue, the more we shall pity and love those who are
suffering from the blindness, disease, and death of sin. The
sight of such people then, instead of raising in us a haughty
contempt or holier-than-thou indignation, will rather fill
us with such tenderness and compassion as when we see the
miseries of a dread disease.' Carol and I have found that
unless God baptizes us with fresh outpourings of love, we
would leave New York City YESTERDAY!"
p. 145, "If the Spirit is not keeping my heart in line with
my doctrine, something crucial is missing."
p. 147, "People must not only hear but feel, see, and experience
the grace of God we speak about. As we open up our church
meetings to God's power, they will not always follow a predetermined
schedule or order. Who can outline what God might have in
p. 149, "The prayer of the Jerusalem believers recorded in
Acts 4 it says in essence, 'God, please don't send us out
there alone just talking. Work with us; confirm your message
in a supernatural way.' What way and in what manner was left
entirely (and rightfully) to God alone."
"Charles Finney, the lawyer turned evangelist, once said that
as long as an audience kept looking at him while he preached,
he knew he was failing. Only when their heads began dropping
in deep conviction of sin did he know that God was working
alongside him, producing a heart change inside. The words
of sound doctrine alone were not enough.
In fact, revivals have never been dominated by eloquent or
clever preaching. If you had timed meetings with a stopwatch
you would have found far more minutes given to prayer, weeping,
and repentance than to sermons. In the "Prayer-Meeting Revival"
of 1857-59 there was virtually no preaching at all. Yet it
apparently produced the greatest harvest of any spiritual
awakening in American history: Estimates run to 1,000,000
converts across the United States, out of a national population
at that time of only 30,000,000. That would be proportionate
to 9,000,000 Americans today falling on their knees in repentance!
How did this happen?" [Read how this happened in pastor Cymbala's
book, pages 149-150.]
p. 150, "Does anyone today think that America today is lacking
preachers, books, Bible translations, and neat doctrinal statements?
What we really lack is the passion to call upon the
Lord until he opens the heavens and shows himself powerful.
Let me make a bold statement! [this whole book is
a bold statement, pastor Cymbala!] Christianity is not predominantly
a teaching religion. We have been almost overrun these days
by the cult of the speaker
The North American church
has made the sermon the centerpiece of the meeting, rather
than the throne of Grace, where God acts in people's lives."
p. 151, "The Jewish faith in Jesus' day was dominated by rabbis--teachers
of the Law. Their doctrine was thorough. Jesus told them,
"You diligently study the Scriptures because you think by
them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that
testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life"
(John 5:39-40). They knew the written Word of God very well,
but not the living Word of God, even as he stood before them."
is not predominantly a teaching religion
of sound doctrine is a prelude, if you will, to the Supernatural.
The Scriptures are not so much the goal as
they are an arrow that points us to the life-changing Christ
is fine to explain about God, but far too few people today
are experiencing the living Christ in their lives. We are
not seeing God's visitation in our gatherings. We are not
on the lookout for his outstretched hand. The teaching of
sound doctrine is a prelude, if you will, to the supernatural.
It is also a guide, a set of boundaries to keep emotion and
exuberance within proper channels [cf. I Cor. 11-14].
p. 152, "Granted, extremists have done fanatical things in
the name of the Holy Spirit that have frightened many sincere
Christians away. Chaotic meetings with silly things going
on and a lack of reverence for God have driven many to prefer
a quiet orderly lecture. But this is just another tactic of
the enemy to make us throw out the baby with the bathwater.
Satan's tendency is always to push us toward one extreme or
the other: deadness or fanaticism
The old saying is true:
If you have only the Word, you dry up. If you have only the
Spirit, you blow up. But if you have both, you grow up.
More than 200 years ago William Law bluntly declared
Jews refused Him who was the substance and fulfilling of all
that was taught in their Law and Prophets. The Christian Church
is in a fallen state for the same rejection of the Holy Spirit."
He said further that just as the Jews refused Jesus and quote
Scripture to prove their point, "so church leaders today reject
the demonstration and power of the Holy Spirit in the name
of sound doctrine." What would the Englishman say if he were
p. 153, "North American churches must no longer accept the
status quo. No more neat little meetings, even with the benefit
of 100 percent correct doctrine
Shouldn't we expect to
SEE Him in action once in a while? Shouldn't we implore him
to manifest Himself? Moses did. Joshua did. Elijah did. Elisha
did. Peter did. Philip did. Paul did. Shouldn't we? God will
manifest himself in direct proportion to our passion for him.
The principle he laid down long ago is still true: "You will
seek me and find me when you seek me with ALL your heart"
and I will never know our potential under God until we step
out and take risks on the front line of battle."
"In verses 12-14 [of I Chronicles 11] we
meet Eleazar, who accompanied David into a major battle with
the Philistines. We get an idea of how formidable the enemy
was when the Bible says, "At a place where there was a field
full of barley, the troops fled from the Philistines." This
was no minor skirmish; this was all-out combat against a superior
opponent. Many frightened Israelite soldiers saw the coming
horde and ran for their lives.
But not Eleazar. He and David "took their stand in the middle
of the field. They defended it and struck the Philistines
down, and the Lord brought a great victory." Once again we
see the combination of human and divine efforts. God did not
act alone. He didn't unleash a lightning strike from heaven
to fry the Philistines. Instead, he was looking all across
the horizon that day to see who would stay in the barley field
and thus receive his supernatural aid. While others left in
fear, these two--David and Eleazar--stood firm.
The account in 2 Samuel 23:10 adds even more detail about
Eleazar. He "stood his ground and struck down the Philistines
till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword." He swung
his weapon with such grit, such adrenaline, that his muscles
locked up on him; he couldn't let go. Talk about a mighty
warrior for God!
What the world's situation cries out for today is this kind
of determined and desperate faith that grips the sword of
the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and won't let go until
A man such as Eleazar brings to mind the little-known, seldom-seen
partner of the great evangelist Charles Finney during the
Second Great Awakening. His name was Daniel Nash, and he had
had a lackluster record as a pastor in upstate New York. He
finally decided, at the age of forty-eight, to give himself
totally to prayer for Finney's meetings.
"Father Nash," as some called him, would quietly slip into
a town three or four weeks before Finney's arrival, rent a
room, find two or three other like-minded Christians to join
him, and start pleading with God. In one town the best he
could find was a dark, damp cellar; it became his center for
In another place, Finney relates:
When I got to town to start a revival a lady contacted me
who ran a boarding house. She said, "Brother Finney, do you
now a Father Nash? He and two other men have been at my boarding
house for the last three days, but they haven't eaten a bite
of food. I opened the door and peeped in at them because I
could hear them groaning, and I saw them down on their faces.
They have been this way for three days, lying prostrate on
the floor and groaning. I thought something awful must have
happened to them. I was afraid to go in and I didn't know
what to do. Would you please come and see about them?"
"No, it isn't necessary," I replied. "They just have a spirit
of travail in prayer."
Once the public meetings began, Nash usually did not attend.
He kept praying in his hideaway for the conviction of the
Holy Spirit to melt the crowd. If opposition arose--as it
often did in those rugged days of the 1820's--Finney would
tell him about it, and Father Nash would bear down all the
harder in prayer.
One time a group of young men openly announced that they were
going to break up the meetings. Nash, after praying, came
out of the shadows to confront them. "Now, mark me, young
men! God will break your ranks in less than one week, either
by converting some of you, or by sending some of you to hell.
He will do this as certainly as the Lord is my God!"
Finney admits that at that point he thought his friend had
gone over the edge. But the next Tuesday morning, the leader
of the group suddenly showed up. He broke down before Finney,
confessed his sinful attitude, and gave himself to Christ.
"What shall I do, Mr. Finney?" he asked then. The evangelist
sent him back to tell his companions what had changed in his
life. Before the week was out, "Nearly if not all of that
class [group] of young men were hoping in Christ," Finney
In 1826 a mob in a certain town burned effigies of the two:
Finney and Nash. These unbelievers recognized that one man
was as big a threat to their wickedness as the other. Shortly
before Nash died in the winter of 1831, he wrote in a letter,
I am now convinced, it is my duty and privilege, and the
duty of every other Christian, to pray for as much of the
Holy Spirit as came down on the day of Pentecost, and a great
My body is in pain, but I am happy in my God
have only just begun to understand what Jesus meant when He
said, "All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing,
ye shall receive."
Within four months of Nash's death, Finney left the itinerant
field to become the pastor of a church in New York City. His
partner in cracking the gates of hell was gone
Nash was a nobody to the elite of his time. They would have
found this humble man not worthy of comment because he lived
on a totally different plane. But you can be sure that he
was known all too well in both heaven and hell
p. 179, "Consider how many gospel-preaching churches there
are in the fifty states of America--200,000, if not more.
If each of these churches, on average, brought only two converts
to Christ a week--not robbing people from the First Baptist
or First Nazarene down the road, but winning new people for
the kingdom of God--that would mean 100 new baptized believers
in each church in a year's time, or 20,000,000, nationwide.
The population of the entire United States is about 270,000,000.
By merely bringing eight or nine people a month to Christ
in each church, America would be dramatically changed within
two or three years. Can any serious Bible-preaching church
not take on this modest goal in the name of its King?
God's plan for the local church has
always centered in evangelism. Those brought to Christ
are thus born into the very place where they can be nurtured
and discipled. This avoids the slippage we often see when
parachurch ministries try to do the work mainly assigned to
the local church.
An evangelistic focus, of course, would force us back to serious
prayer and an emphasis on the simple gospel of Jesus Christ.
God would prepare us as only he can for victorious spiritual
warfare. Concerned believers wouldn't have time to watch as
much television as they do now. A lot of other activities
would have to give way. Living in the Bible, as calling upon
the Lord, fasting, and then reaching out to the unsaved would
consume us. We would require God's anointing, whatever the
Some churches in very small towns might have trouble reaching
100 people per year, but they would be offset by the churches
in urban areas, where the need and the opportunity are so
If the American church actually set out to do this "exploit"
for God, bringing 20,000,000 to Christ this year, another
20,000,000 next year
in three or four years we wouldn't
recognize our culture. Broadway and Hollywood would have to
acknowledge the shift in audience preferences. Abortion clinics
would wonder where all their customers went [and I say, without
the noisy confrontation we see so much of now, this would
be a quiet revolution of people following Christ and avoiding
this evil crime in their own lives]. Drug abuse would plummet.
Some will accuse me of idealistic dreaming, but isn't this
plan the last thing Jesus told us to fulfill before his ascension?
"Go and make disciples of all nations," he said, "baptizing
them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded
you" (Matt. 28:19-20). What will it take to shake denominational
leaders, pastors, and laypeople, seeing that we all must answer
to Christ at the Judgment Seat one day? Our sense of inadequacy
is no excuse, given that he has promised to work with us as
we set our hearts to the task of extending his kingdom."
The following is taken from the front and back flap of Jim
Cymbala's book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire:
TIMES ARE URGENT, GOD IS ON THE MOVE, NOW IS THE MOMENT TO
Jim Cymbala believes that Jesus wants nothing
more than to renew and revive his people--to call us back
from spiritual dead ends that lead only to apathy and lukewarm
As pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, one of America's most
remarkable churches, he knows firsthand the transforming power
of God's love--strong enough to convert prostitutes, pimps,
drug addicts, homeless people, and transvestites. Strong enough
to draw professional men and women, blacks, whites, and Hispanics
together in worship. Strong enough to rekindle our own dull
hearts and flagging spirits.
Twenty-five years ago, the Brooklyn Tabernacle could barely
draw twenty people to a Sunday service. Today it is six thousand
strong, a testament of what God can do when men and women
begin to pour out their hearts to God.
The story of what has happened to a broken-down church in
one of America's meanest neighborhoods points the way to new
spiritual vitality in the church and in your own life. But
don't look in this book for faddish techniques--you won't
find them. And while the Tabernacle today has an interracial
membership and a world-renowned choir, don't look for an emphasis
on cross-culturalism, numbers, or well-orchestrated worship
Instead, look for what God can do when a handful of people
humble themselves and take the Gospel seriously. When believers
turn to their last and only recourse--their knees--and discover
there the life-changing reality of the Holy Spirit.
Whether you're a pastor or a layperson, if you're hungry for
more of God, this book will break your heart and restore your
Jim Cymbala has been the pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle
for twenty-five years. In that time the congregation has grown
from twenty members to six thousand. He lives in New York
City with his wife, Carol Cymbala, who directs the Grammy
Award-winning Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.
"FRESH WIND, FRESH FIRE"
can be found in or ordered from most Christian bookstores
or is available from the publisher,
Rapids, Michigan 49530
$16.99/ $22.99 CAN
Publishing House can be reached online at:
The excerpts you just read were taken from
Pastor Cymbala's book "Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire." These excerpts
represent a very small portion of a book chock full of the
miracles of answered prayer and how prevailing prayer fuels
evangelism. Be sure to order the book for yourself and see
how prayer can change your life and the life of the church
you attend. You cannot read this book too much. Reading it
makes you want to pray. Reading this book facilitates prayer.
I honestly cannot say that about another book besides the
Bible itself. This book should be an active, dog-eared addition
of every Christian pastor's library. Application of the principles
in this book will bring revival and growth to any and every
person and congregation who apply it to their prayer lives.
This is one of the few books which comes under the category
of "You can't do without it."
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