What does it really mean to do evangelism? To have a strategy? What does it really mean to use the community, the people group, the demographic to purposefully share the gospel?”
Those were the questions posed by Jeff Meyers, pastor of First Baptist Church, Opelika, at the 2019 Alabama Baptist State Evangelism Conference held at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church, Birmingham, on Feb. 25.
According to Meyers, the keys to effective evangelism are avoiding three temptations: the temptation of imitation, substitution and exhaustion.
Meyers highlighted Acts 13:44: “On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.”
“If Paul didn’t reach everybody, I probably won’t either,” Meyers said, emphasizing the word “almost.”
Churches have fallen into the temptation of saying, “I guess we need to start doing what they’re doing.”
“No,” Meyers said. “Do what God has called you to do, not what He has called another church to do.”
One church’s giftedness may not be another’s giftedness and one church’s emphasis may not be another’s emphasis.
“I often get asked, ‘Why don’t we have a gym at our church?’” Meyers said. His answer? “Because there are a dozen churches doing gym ministry in our community. We don’t need a thirteenth.”
Many churches miss those the Lord has put in their backyards because they’re too consumed with what the Lord is doing down the street.
“Reach those who the Lord has given unto you,” Meyers said. “Don’t try to reach those others are already reaching.”
Churches also fall into the temptation that something could be more attractive than the word of God. If we need something more than the Bible to reach people then we’ve substituted that for the Bible, Meyers said.
“The Bible is enough,” he said. “It doesn’t matter the hardened soul, the discouraged atheist, the eastern mystic, when you open the Bible and read the Word it hits people in their hearts.”
“If the Scriptures were good enough for Joshua, for Amos, for Jesus Christ, why aren’t they good enough for us?” he asked.
Because pastors have fallen into the temptation that something else is needed to woo and entice people to Christ, he answered.
“If churches win people with the Scriptures churches will keep them with the Scriptures. But if they win them with lights and music and personality, they better hope they don’t lose all that stuff,” Meyers said.
The last temptation pastors must fight against is the temptation for exhaustion.
“We don’t fight against flesh and blood,” Meyers said. “We fight against rulers of darkness.”
Pastors get exhausted because they hear and see the words and expressions of people around them and they think those individuals are the enemy, he said.
“The enemy is not the atheist or the doubter, the enemy is the one behind the scenes,” Meyers said.
The cure for exhaustion, Meyers encouraged, is telling people about Jesus, seeing them get saved, then standing with them in the baptistry.
“We weren’t called to buildings or programs. We were called to the ministry of the gospel,” he said. “Stay focused on the gospel and don’t fall into other temptations.”