Monday, September 04, 2006

Modern Day Rainmakers

They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind
(Jude 12 – NIV)

The “job” of an evangelist has morphed over the years. Because of a misunderstanding of the sovereignty of God, and an overemphasis on the free will of man, the evangelists (not all, mind you, but many of the most popular, and those who are “learning” while coming up the ranks) have a new task or “job”, which is to precipitate a crisis.

This way a decision can be made, and the evangelist can be seen to produce results, which are equated by the host church or event, and by the evangelist himself, as doing the right things. It is seen as the favor of God over the ministry or as being faithful, and so God responded in kind with many “decisions”.

This results oriented measurement may or may not be a true measure in certain instances, but “decisionism” has crippled the American church, for sure. We have lots of baptized pagans in our pews, and lots of spiritual midgets in our midst. This can be a problem for the immature believer, the backslider, or the unbeliever, for that matter. The spiritually bored are most susceptible to this; they heed the dire diagnosis, and celebrate the loudest when the evangelist brings the supposed rain of revival to town.

When an evangelist comes into town, or when we go searching for that “event” or conference or seminar we need to go to get that “boost”, we can be setting ourselves up in a boom and bust cycle of spirituality. We get excitement, but we don’t get expansion. These are like the stony ground (Mark 4:16-17), they have no root, and while they received the Word with gladness, it ultimately did not produce any fruit. No root, no fruit, and a bunch of confusion to boot.

This is not to belittle the role of an evangelist. They do an important work in the body of Christ. First, they are to bring sinners to repentance, and second, to exhort and admonish backsliders and believers to an increased faith. We need our emotions stirred. We do not begrudge them this.

Of course, not all do these things with the same effectiveness, and herein we can see the root of a problem. Our culture in America is so tied to results that it has affected the Christian subculture in an adverse way. Considering this, when an evangelist comes to town, which ones will be invited back, the ones who “produced” results, or the ones who didn’t? How do we measure these results? Too often, because we don’t believe in the absolute sovereignty of God, we look to emotional outpourings and decisions to validate the work of those visiting us.

We would suggest that what we need to do to measure effectiveness is look at faithfulness to God and His Word. God is sovereign, and He is the one who is responsible for salvation and for growth in grace. We must recognize this, and not let decisionism take its place, or we might let those who aren’t so faithful but who produce numbers or decisions or effects or results have their way. This is how wolves get in, not to say we have had many, but to say we need to recognize the wiles of the devil for what they are.

Steadfast shepherds need to be on the lookout for modern day rainmakers.


Taliesin said...

Even So,

Good article. In a recent discussion, my nephew was critical of the fact that his church did not have an alter call. I noted that mine did an that I'm not sure I like the idea.

I know where my nephew's heart is on this issue. But there was a study done once of Finney and lesser-known reformed evangelist. The study showed that Finney's "converts" were largely temporary (after the "revival" was over, the people stopped attended church and went back to their old lifestyle). The other man, who had emphasized a Biblical discipleship approach, had much fewer "converts" but the majority of his displayed the fruit of genuine Christianity.

Question for you: do you have or advocate any kind of Gospel call? For example, a church I attended before moving back to Indiana would call sinners to consider their lost state at the end of the morning sermon, but did not have an alter call. Are you advocating something similar? Or do you have an alter call, but have a more rigorous process than most churches to determine if the response was momentary emotion or real conviction?

Even So... said...


We sometimes have an "altar call" type of situation, but even then it is not of the type and variety you might be accostomed to.

So in essence, not usually, but often we press for reflection, and close with a question or questions to consider, and tell them to come speak to me or one of the ministers if they have any questions.

You would be surprised how often someone does come up afterwards, and how we have "led people to the Lord", but of course, as you have already discerned, it is much more involved than that.

In talking to people about their sanctification, in which many come up (not in our church so much, but you know the routine) and rededicate themselves over and over, etc., what we have done to help those type of folks before they start down that boom and bust road is to say that it doesn't happen here and you get this magic power where you now can overcome, instead you must walk in accordance with what you may have felt here today. If you do not attach concrete action to this momentary situation, it will do you no long term good. It is not your decsion to start, but your determination to stay that counts. Then we speak to them of Bible reading, study, prayer, and staying in fellowship with others of like precious faith.

Hope this my post Nascar versus the Mountain for more...