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I can’t think of a sadder situation than not being able to be with a loved one who is dying in the hospital with Covid-19. I ask that you, along with me, pray for the sick and dying during this pandemic.
Historically, pandemics have left cultural, political, and social changes that last far beyond the disease itself. The Spanish Flu of 1918, like Covid-19, was a virus. It killed approximately 50 million worldwide, including 675,000 Americans. As a result, this pandemic revolutionized public health, spawning the new fields of epidemiology and virology. It led several Western European countries to adopt universal health-care systems that are still in operation today.
I understand we will need time to go through a grieving period. Hopefully, as our bodies, hearts, and minds begin to heal, we will allow God to lead us to become a more unified country and world. Our churches are a most important part of this. We should not only be preaching “we’re all in this together”, but we should also be living examples of it.
This is our chance to do what Jesus told us we could do.
“I tell you for certain that if you have faith in me, you will do the same thing I am doing. You will do even greater things.” John 14:12
These past 41 years as I have traveled to your churches, I’ve seen how you’ve become more creative with music and media. I am very proud of the many churches that are making their services available online. This is something we are continuing to learn and will find to be an evangelism tool that will allow us to do greater things and growing things in the name of Christ. I am praying that we will use this time to put aside our disagreements and divisions and be the Church we can be and are called to be.
In the mid-’70s, when I was finishing seminary, my dissertation for my Doctor of Ministry degree was “Prophetic Preaching From A Pastoral Base.” I never thought about any kind of ministry other than being a pastor in the local church. I admired the ministries of the prophets in the Old Testament. Jesus admired them, too, and certainly ministered in the prophetic spirit. His teachings were confronting and challenging, but they were also filled with love and hope. He was a prophet and he was pastoral. I saw in their examples how I wanted to relate to my congregations in actions and word.
I was blessed to have served 12 years in the local church before I began feeling my ‘Call within a Call’ from being a pastor to a servant evangelist. I knew wherever the call to evangelism took me, I would never let it separate me from the local church. If I commit the rest of my life to this new specialized ministry, it would have to be in a way that helps and supports the local church. And it had to be a ministry that mirrors the prophetic and pastoral ministry of Jesus … a ministry of love, confrontation, challenge, and hope.
It was a time when TV evangelists filled the airwaves with messages that were foreign to my belief with their lifestyles and the ways they preached the Good News. They put a disingenuous name on one of the great building blocks of the Church. As much as TV evangelists upset me with their cheap grace and preaching less than the fullness of the Gospel, I am disappointed in us who have let their ways push us away from evangelism. Do we do the same thing, in reverse, that they did? The Gospel is a double edge sword. It is personal and it is social. It is saving souls and it is saving society. Did we choose social justice and abandon evangelism?
This is why I named my ministry, “Evangelism in the Prophetic Spirit.” Evangelism is being a messenger for God, and God’s message is love, and that love moves us to love others through acts of peace and justice. We cannot compartmentalize evangelism into saving of self. It has nothing to do with numbers and building mega-churches. It is not counting heads, it is changing hearts. For me, it is partnering with local pastors to challenge, revive and grow their churches.
Let’s stop pushing and pulling evangelism around to fit our narrow-minded agendas. Evangelism is the fullness of the Gospel in all its Kingdom building ways. Let’s reclaim the true meaning and action of evangelism ~ Evangelism in the Prophetic Spirit.