Summary: Evangelism is the task of first importance for the Body of Christ. This message talks about this first importance, puts evangelism in perspective with the other purposes of the church, and gives some practical suggestions on how to do it.

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TEXT: MARK 16:15-16


(Material primarily from Bob Russel’s When God Builds A Church)

INTRODUCTION: A. I first read this story called “The Life Saving Station” in Knofel Staton’s Heaven

Bound Living:

On a dangerous sea coast where shipwrecks often occur, there was once a crude

little life-saving station. The building was just a hut and had only one boat, but the few

devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea. With no thought for themselves,

they went out every day and night, tirelessly searching for shipwreck victims. Many

lives were saved by this wonderful little life-saving station, and so it became famous.

Some of those who were saved and various others in the surrounding area wanted to

become associated with the station and give their time, money, and effort for the

support of its work. New lifeboats were bought and new life-saving crews were

trained. The little life-saving station grew.

Some of the members of the life-saving station were unhappy that the building was

so crude and poorly equipped. They felt a little more comfortable place should be

provided as the first refuge of those who were saved from drowning. So they replaced

the emergency cots and the emergency beds and put in better furniture. Now the life-

saving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it

beautifully and furnished it exquisitely because they used it as a sort of social club.

Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on life-saving missions so they

hired lifeboat crews to do the work. The life-saving motif still prevailed in the club’s

decoration and there was a liturgical lifeboat in the room where the club met.

About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast and the hired crews brought

in loads of cold, wet, half-drowned people. They were dirty and sick and some of them

had black skin, and some had yellow skin. The beautiful new clubhouse was

considerably messed up, so the property committee immediately had a shower house

built outside the club where the victims of the shipwrecks could be cleaned up before

coming inside.

At the next meeting there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members

wanted to stop the life-saving activity because it was unpleasant and a hindrance to the

normal social life of the club. Some members insisted on life-saving operations as the

primary purpose and pointed out they were still called a life-saving station. But they

were voted down and told if they wanted to save the lives of shipwreck victims in

those waters, they could begin their own life-saving station down the coast, which they


And as the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that

occurred in the old and it evolved into a club and yet another life-saving station was

founded. History continued to repeat itself. And if you visit the coast today you find a

number of exclusive clubs along the shore. Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters,

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