Summary: Different ways of accomplishing ministry.
A NEW WAY OF DOING MINISTRY
“Behold I will do a new thing . . . ”(Isaiah 43:19). I know this first is a reference to the coming Millennium, but God has always been doing new things in ministry. Today, I want to remind you of the new things that God has done in the past, then challenge you concerning some new methods for the future.
B. NEW THINGS AT PENTECOST.
1. GOD GAVE THE STREETS TO THE NEW CHURCH.
In the Old Testament, God resided in the Tabernacle and then in the Temple. God’s presence in the Shekinah-glory cloud sat on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant. God’s people came to a building, a sanctuary to worship Him. But on the Day of Pentecost, God moved into the streets. There was witnessing in the streets, preaching in the streets, baptizing in public places, plus teaching, fellowship, and testifying. God sent His new church into the streets for ministry.
In the past God has given the streets to Christians, i.e., John Wesley preached in the open, Southern Baptists went door-to-door in soul-winning, and Independent Baptists went door-to-door, filling Sunday school buses. Let’s never give up our ministry in the streets.
2. GOD GAVE SMALL GROUPS TO THE NEW CHURCH.
In the early Church, Christians met in homes for prayer. I think also they were teaching and collecting offerings in these small groups. When they were “breaking bread from house-to-house” (Acts 2:46), these were probably house churches where they worshipped the Lord with communion.
Also, the churches in history used small groups. John Wesley came with new methods and they called him a Methodist. He organized the Methodists into classes, small groups that met in homes. Later the Southern Baptists became authorities in the use of small groups, putting people into small Sunday school classes. And today, Yonggi Cho of the Full Gospel Church in Seoul, Korea, has over 70,000 cells that meet primarily in homes on Friday evening; these cells give strength to a church of 750,000 people.
3. NEW COMMISSION GIVEN TO THE NEW CHURCH.
Jesus gave the Great Commission which had new elements of ministry.
• Go into all the world, not just the Holy Land.
• Make disciples of all nations, not just focus on the Nation of Israel.
• Preach the Gospel to everyone, not just to Jews.
No one can deny that the impact of a new message transformed the disciples and they went everywhere, preaching until they “turned the world upside down.”
Is the Great Commission still our commission? Let me point out to you:
• The Great Commission has not been changed.
• The Great Commission has not been enhanced.
• The Great Commission has not been deluded.
• The Great Commission has not been fulfilled.
C. NEW METHODS IN OUR LIFETIME.
We have used the radio in our generation as a new tool of evangelism. Such stations as HJCB (Heralding Jesus Christ Beyond) and Trans World Radio have broadcasted the Gospel to the world.
Two of the original radio evangelists to own a radio station were J. Frank Norris of the First Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas, and Aimee Semple McPherson of Los Angeles, California.
I was converted under the radio ministry of Charles E. Fuller, but think in terms of the great radio preachers, i.e., Theodore Epp (Bible To The Bible), and Billy Graham (Hour of Decision).
Approximately fifty years ago the Church got into the television ministry. Two of the first greats were: Oral Roberts and Rex Humbard. I first began in television in December, 1956 when I began a local television program on Sunday evening. Because of the blessing of God, we first went nation wide and then world wide. Think of the great television evangelists such as: Billy Graham, D. James Kennedy, and Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart (before their fall), and the world-wide ministry today of TBN and Paul Crouch.
Obviously, radio and television belong under media, but what about the use of newspapers, mailings, and all other new forms of media? Thirty-one years ago I published a book, Church Aflame, and I coined a new phrase, i.e., saturation evangelism (using every available means to reach every available person, in every available time). I took the concept of saturation evangelism from Acts 5:28, “Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine.” Media is a way of filling your Jerusalem with the doctrine of Jesus Christ.
In June 1972 we had 18,019 people in attendance at our church in little Lynchburg, Virginia. Let me tell you what saturation evangelism did for us. We mailed a letter and postcard to every home in our zip code area, inviting them to church. We delivered a flier to every home in our zip code area announcing our meeting. Our high schoolers put posters in every store in our zip code, and our junior high schoolers put posters on every light pole in our zip code area. We ran an ad 60 times on the only television station at that time in Lynchburg, Virginia, and 60 slots on all 15 radio stations. We took out an entire page in the Lynchburg newspaper on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, inviting people to Sunday school. Through our bus ministry we went to every home, inviting them to ride the bus. We gave a brand new Scofield Bible to the person who brought the most visitors and had Colonel Sanders give his testimony that day, giving a fried chicken dinner to everyone who rode the Sunday school bus. One more thing, the students at Liberty University and the faithful members of Thomas Road Baptist Church phoned every number in the Lynchburg telephone book, inviting them to come to Sunday school. That’s saturation evangelism at work.