by Evangelist Siegfried Tomazsewski
After my years as youth pastor, I had the privilege of working alongside the world-renowned Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke. I was able to watch and learn from the man of God for 18 years, ministering as an evangelist myself at our crusades or teaching at our Fire Conferences. I also did preparation for such events. All of this was always in very close cooperation with the local churches. Many times we broke re-cords in church unity in places where there was strife, bitterness and unforgiveness between pastors of different churches in the same city.
In one particular city it seemed to be impossible to get the lo-cal pastors to sit at the same table because two pastors had not spoken to each other for 18 years! The reason? Apparently one split from the original church and started a new one with 20 people whom he took with him from the 200-member congregation – his church grew.
When I asked the “old” pastor for the reason he did not talk to his brother, he replied that he had split his church (well, 20 is not really splitting 200). So I asked him why after all those years the one with the 20 now had over 300 and he still had less than 200! They eventually both joined in. At the end of our events all of the participating pastors hugged each other, cried and asked one another and God for forgiveness. Since that time they meet regularly for prayer and strategic planning for reaching their city.This is only one of many testimonies that we experienced around the world.
Now what has that to do with evangelism and the local church?
The Pastor and the Local Situation
Traveling around the world and talking to thousands of pastors I see a lot of frustration in today’s leadership. Just the other day I talked to a young pastor who was to take over an “old conservative church”, according to his own words. After 8 years he was so frustrated and said he would never again do it. Why not? He had to take over someone else’s vision (if there was a vision at all), pattern, strategy, leaders-hip (elders) and had no personal vision, no leadership skills and no experience or mentor to help him handle the situation.
The devil uses many circumstances
I come from a traditional church background myself and experienced many in my own ministry. The battle between choir or hymns and modern worship songs; the arguing between the Wednesday night bible class church group and the new cell group movement, to things that we smile about today like “is going to the beach sin”. They sound so trifling today and yet many churches have been brought to stagnation by these things.
Where I see a pastor with a vision for his church and a shepherd’s compassion for his sheep, I see situations changed. A pastor is the shepherd that has to give direction to the sheep, lead them, carry them and stand in the gap before God in intercession for them. Moses was willing for his name to be blotted out of the book of life for the sin of his people (Exodus 32:32). Let’s be honest, who today would be willing to give up his salvation for the salvation of his people? Pas-tors, I want to encourage you never to give up, lead and feed, wait patiently for the sheep to follow. Give direction and walk ahead!
The Pastor and Evangelism
Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke stated many times – “a church that doesn’t seek the lost is lost it-self”. I can only agree with this statement. The question I asked myself many times is why are there many churches that do not grow? Well, there is surely many reasons, just let me give you only 3 that I find significant for church growth.
* Some churches have become modern entertainment centers and are no longer rescue operations. We want to compete with the world in order to draw people and forget that we should set the standard for the world, not the other way around. Too often the motivation is just to keep the “flock” satisfied to stay and not really to seek the lost.
* What portion of our church is actually focusing on evangelism and soul-winning? What portion does it take of our funds, time, preaching/message or each group?
Let’s be serious about this: if I had a company and only focused on the internal, on employees, building, administration, even if my product were the perfect item to satisfy human desires, but I did not communicate with the potential customer, how in the world would he/she know about it?
What do we really do to promote the Gospel, our church, each group that we have? Do we have something to offer to the world? If yes, well, then let’s get on with it and offer it!!! Do you offer a message of deliverance? Let your community know. Do you have a message of healing? Well, let the sick in your town know. I could go on with this almost endless list.
The problem is that the moment we start thinking about it, the devil comes with his old speech. You cannot promise something that doesn’t work in your church. Get over it, get the devil out of your mind and be concerned with what God has called you to do today.
If we don’t do what we are called to do, it actually means that we believe the devil more than God! Even if it doesn’t seem appropriate, make an altar call and in time you will see results.
* One very serious reason is a simple pioneer syndrome. When a pastor takes over a small church, he seems to have to do everything himself, from greeting the people to leading the worship, from preaching to ad-ministration and so on.
Leadership is the gift of discipleship with the art of delegation. We must learn to involve as many church members as possible. They need to take ownership over an area, become responsible and they will be accountable to you as the leading pastor as you are to God. Learn to trust others to do an even better job and forget your pride. You will receive more honors by doing so.