He Had Time.
He made an appointment with me. I was thankful. My whole future hung in the balance and my pastor, Charles Heath, agreed to meet with me and talk. He had baptized me and he was a big deal in my life. Every week, he preached to over a thousand souls and he met with me as a teenager. Charles Heath had a manner that was disarming and charming. He had a kindness and goodness. Later in life, I would have the privilege of working for him for five years. We never had a cross moment. He gave me freedom and reigned me in as well.
I was eighteen years old. The conversation went a little like this. “Pastor, I have felt for a while that I should be an evangelist. To be honest, I don’t really know what that is; what it means; nor how I should go about doing it. Can you help me?” Pastor Heath laid it all out on the table. And the bottom, bottom line (as Pastor Rick Ross says) was this: “Don’t do it! You’ll starve. And it’s really, really hard.” He gave me a few horror stories. He loved me. He encouraged me to “get to know Mark and see if you can help him.” Mark was the youth pastor. I listened to his suggestion and did as my spiritual authority directed me. I helped the youth pastor. I became a youth minister for a couple of decades after my college years.
Numbers Were Better Then!
When Pastor and I had our conversation, there were over 2,500 evangelists in my denomination. I have tried to research the numbers today and discovered that there were about 75 to 85 full time evangelists. And of that number, some do “prophecy seminars” and such. So, my loving shepherd tried to discourage me when the odds were much, much better.
Rick Warren Too
Just a few years ago, I was honored to receive a special invitation to a small gathering of leaders to hear and speak with Rick Warren, author of the number one best-selling book in the history of the world (next to the Bible, of course). I had the opportunity to ask him what he thought of “evangelists”. The answer from this great general, great pastor, great man of God was basically: not too much. Aside from Chuck Smith (or Greg Laurie), he thought that the time of evangelists in the classical sense was past. Et tu, Rick Warren? Two great men of God with the same message. It was and is a cause for pause.
No Martyrs Allowed
I don’t want to have the “woe is me” flavor about the evangelist field. That evangelistic calling that has stuck on me like a dryer sheet for thirty one years has not left. At my last two youth pastorates, “I need to travel the road.” During the District Denominational leadership post, “I must travel.” As a lead pastor, “I agree to this, as long as you let me ‘do the work of an evangelist.'” So, I plow along in this evangelistic field. And the fact that I have done it for six years, full time is a MIRACLE! Thousands of hands have been raised. Hundreds of people healed, strengthened, filled with hope and Spirit. Dozens of pastors ministered to. Hundreds of intercessory prayers have been collected in Heaven. I am amazed that with odds against us, God has done explosive things in our midst! I am so grateful for Dr. Rick Ross and cfa, the intercessors, the support team, and my incredible family. I give the Lord Jesus Christ all honor, praise, and glory.
And he (Jesus) said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” (Mark 1:38 ESV)
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11, 12 ESV)