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Editorial: Evangelism is Alive and Well

Evangelism is Alive and Well

Editorial by William McClendon

bill mcclendon headshotSeveral years ago, my wife, Shirlene, and I were given the privilege of planting a new church in Tulsa, Okla. I freely admit we had no idea what we were doing, but we knew we wanted to start a church like the one we read about in Acts 2. God put it in our hearts to grow a congregation singularly focused on reaching people with the gospel.

We decided that, if we were going to live that out, evangelism would have to be the church’s primary activity. Over the next 10 years, we did a lot of traditional public evangelism, somewhere around 50 seminars. Can you guess what happened? God used that committed church to bring hundreds and hundreds of people into His kingdom.

Don’t Give Up

I know a lot of people who have given up on traditional public evangelism. Their reason is usually because, some time back, their church held an evangelistic meeting, spent thousands of dollars, only a few people were baptized and then, after a few weeks, they all left the church. I will not deny that sometimes happens. But, sometimes it doesn’t.

You should also know that I am one of those who stayed. I had never heard of Seventh-day Adventists, and I certainly didn’t know any. The only chance the church had of reaching me in the crucial moment of my life, when I was open and searching, was a handbill. There were 100 of us that cold, October Sabbath morning who braved a freezing pond to be baptized. For some of us, that was the moment our life changed forever. The fact is, the church is full of people like me who stayed.

Be Encouraged

We shouldn’t be surprised or discouraged when people leave. Jesus said it would be so. In the parable of the sower recorded in Matthew 13:5-7, He says some that spring up will be scorched by the sun and others will be choked by thorns. But, notice in verse 8 that Jesus promises all will not be lost: “But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (NKJV).

I am a realist. I will admit that public evangelism doesn’t always work as well as I would like. There isn’t a meeting I have been a part of that I didn’t wish there were more attendees and certainly more people baptized. Instead of getting discouraged and giving up, however, I work with church leaders and congregations to find better ways of doing it.

Public evangelism takes a lot of time and effort. It can be expensive. It can be exciting, thrilling, disappointing and heartbreaking all at once. But, after making public evangelism a top priority during my past 25 years of ministry, I believe it is still a very effective way to grow God’s kingdom. If you are one of those who have given up on public evangelism, why not give it another try?


William McClendon is the pastor of Chesapeake Conference’s Baltimore First church in Ellicott City, Md.

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