Over the last 17 years of pastoring, I've watched many people get rushed to an altar and speak in tongues. I've watched just as many of these leave within months of their experience.
I realize we must "redeem the time because the days are evil" but I wonder if our rush to the get people to speak in tongues is causing some "premature births" and eventually deaths!?
Today, during my daily dose of the "verbs" (Proverbs), I came across this one. I realize I'm stretching the context a little here, but we all do it occasionally.
Proverbs 20:21 (ESV) An inheritance gained hastily in the beginning will not be blessed in the end.
The Holy Ghost is referred to in the NT as an "inheritance".
I want people to receive the Holy Ghost, and I want to see multiplied thousands experience this daily, BUT, I don't want them to forego repentance! We must be careful to allow Godly sorrow to work repentance and lead to salvation!
Along the line of Dave Huston’s reply, Jesus told his disciples/apostles (Matt. 28:19) to go teach people how to get their sins forgiven…and then baptize them…never said nutin’ ‘bout preechun Holy Ghost ferst! So…I suppose the Holy Ghost is a given (gift)– and should happen as a result.
About the Go Win Souls site, I’ve personally met Tim Downs only briefly, but I know one Brother, and friend of mine, who is using this method. He is only about 7 or 8 miles from me. He took an assembly of about 10 people somewhere about 2 years ago and is running around 200 now. They have planted other “daughter” works also. Yes, they’ve used the give-away gimmicks, bicycles, and gift cards etc., (and sure, some of these people are some the some churches wouldn’t even want). Still, there needs to be more time to see how the discipleship department pans out. I wrote some about one of their adventures in a GCN blog post called Litul 'citement! – they were baptizing them right on the street in downtown Ashland, KY! Further, someone abandoned a baby girl (very near new-born) at their church house door. This pastor and his wife did something wonderful about it – they adopted her. She is loved and provided for in this congregation and now "lays hands" on here daddy to pray for him. LOL! If anyone would like to talk to him for a first-hand account, his contact info is Gene Easterling 740-532-3832 and he would be very happy to share with anyone what is, and has, been happening there.
I do believe that we are to compel the world to come in, and depending on how broad you define the word "compel", gimmicks might fall under that banner.
Here's what I know for certain! Habakkuk made complaints to the Lord, but it wasn't until he stood guard and climbed up the watchtower and waited on God that the Lord finally spoke. And when the Lord answered him, he was able to write the vision and make it plain!
My point is this - the only thing we know that will work everywhere is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A person needs to know their city/region, etc. before they do something that others have done. What works in the Midwest may or may not work in the Northeast where I'm located, etc.
That being said, I do have a problem "scaring" people into getting baptized. From what I've seen of these types of "evangelists", they uses methods that turn out big numbers, but by and large, these numbers are not staying.
I think we could learn much from Jesus' parable of the sower, seed, and fields. My grandparents were farmers and they went to great lengths to prepare the field, plant the seed, and harvest the crop. I can still see grandma on her hands and knees "weeding" her vegetable garden.
I've personally talked with a number of pastors, asking them how the numbers add up 1,2, & 3 years after this type of "evangelism" and not one that I've talked to has seen an increase in their overall church attendance.
One man boasted 89 being baptized in three days. His church averaged 170 easily before the revival. Even if you only take 50% of the 89, this church should have been over 200 on average after the revival, but they weren't. Two years later, they are still at 170.
Anyway, just my opinion on the matter, for what it's worth.
Your opinion on the matter does have worth, Brother Myron, and our combined opinions can help us reason this thing out.
I’ve seen the same about temporary number increases by the use of scare tactics. While we are on the subject of scare tactics, I have also witnessed scare tactic methods while the one preaching was preaching things that just weren’t so. For example, years ago I heard one preach that scientists have discovered a large cube-shaped object headed toward planet earth. It measures 1500 miles square…and there is beautiful music coming from it. Don’t know what happened to thing, but it hasn’t gotten here yet. They also preached that the third temple would be built before Jesus comes and at this very moment the temple walls are three feet high! Yes, this was an apostolic!
Concerning gimmicks, I wonder if our “Easter” services are gimmicks in disguise. Also our “Christmas” programs. Why do we have them if not to get someone to come to the “house of God” and feel all the while that we are “compelling” people to come in. For myself, while this may be useful, I think we are missing it too. LOL!
If the “great commission” is the pattern for us to follow, i.e. go teach them and then baptize them, I wonder how many assemblies all over America are actually doing just that. This assembly that I am referring to does for sure. While they do use what we might term gimmicks, they have been taking vans (they started with just one) and actually going out on the streets of Ashland. Anyone, and I mean anyone they meet (doesn’t matter if they are well dressed or no), they approach and start talking to them about their souls. Then they haul them in the vans back to the church building and baptize them in Jesus Name. Personally, I like the idea that they took the horse trough on a trailer downtown Ashland and taught and baptized 40 people in Jesus Name – right there on the street! The retention rate for this, I don’t know about. But the point is they are actually imitating what Jesus told the eleven to do…and are getting results.
If it were gimmicks alone, I would definitely be against it. But some of these gimmicks may actually fill a need for example - food. (James 2:16 comes to mind.) How about a little boy or girl who has never had a bicycle (especially if that little boy was mine)? Or…one person won a bicycle and then traded it back to the church for food from the pantry. This assembly is a busy lot for sure. Where does the money come from for this? People willingly donate it for this cause…and actually get to see the results of their giving.
I am not trying to justify, or condemn, using “gimmicks”, but merely attempting to share what is happening here, since it is impossible to accurately judge from the distance and …to at least help balance the picture since the subject was brought up. Maybe I can get a better idea of the retention rate for a later post. By the way, I may be wrong, but this is the only church that I know of in our area that is growing in any significant amount.
Yes, I agree and I have heard of the success in Ashland. It appears to me that it is because they are keeping it going, rather than letting it be something that happens only once a year, or as frequently as they have a "revival."
You are right about other "gimmicks" too, centered around holidays.
I think we agree that we need to preach the Gospel and compel, to the best of our ability, others to respond to it.
As an attempt to drive the level of commitment deeper right from the start, we have begun using the following questions with everyone who wants to be baptized. We review the questions before baptism and then read them and ask for an affirmative answer in front of the congregation just before putting them in the water. This has proven to be useful in introducing some core concepts and eliciting a public verbal expression of commitment at the time of baptism. I'm interested in your thoughts about this. Also in any suggestions you may have for the questions.
1. Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, which means that Jesus is God in the flesh?
2. Do you acknowledge that you have sinned against God and stand in need of salvation?
3. Do you recognize that it was because of your sins that Jesus had to be crucified? Are you sorry for that?
4. Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved?
5. Have you made a firm decision to turn away from all sin and self-centeredness and submit yourself fully and completely to Jesus?
6. Do you believe that repentance, faith, and water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ are all necessary to receive forgiveness of your sins.
7. Are you committed to living for Jesus with all your heart, soul, and strength for the rest of your life?
8. Are you aware of the consequences if you should fail to keep this commitment to Jesus?
9. Are you willing to observe the teachings of the Bible as they become known to you?
10. Are you willing to be faithful to this local assembly so that you can learn and grow in your walk with God?
11. We believe that God wants to fill you with His Spirit, so are you willing to receive the Spirit and speak in tongues, just as the people did in the Bible?
12. Are there any specific sins you feel you need to confess right now?