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Evangelists: one of God's gifts to the church

 

ATLANTA — Each January the Conference of Georgia Baptist Evangelists (COGBE) has a retreat designed for mutual encouragement and spiritual enrichment. These retreats are generally characterized by good fellowship, an obvious passion for spiritual revival, and reaching the lost with the Gospel of Christ. The recent meeting Jan. 6-7 was no exception.

Dennis Nunn, founder and president of Every Believer a Witness Ministries, concluded his second year as president of COGBE and presented a passionate message Friday evening on “How to Be Successful in Your Ministry” from Genesis 37-50 citing Joseph as an example. He stressed the absolute importance of hearing from God in order to chart the course of one’s ministry.

Joel Southerland, who serves Georgia Baptists in the Convention’s evangelism department, led three sessions at the retreat highlighting how evangelists can use social media to enhance their ministries. Southerland presented startling facts concerning the amount of information that can be found on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and the number of hours people spend connecting on these media.

Southerland declared, “If we want to connect with people we have to go where they are – and they are on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.”

He further explained, “There are many reasons for using social media, including branding, relationships, engagement, feedback and decisions (or response).”

Jon Reed was elected as the new president of COGBE and gave an interview to The Index. Consider his responses to the four questions below.

 

Jon Reed

The Index: What is your vision for COGBE over the next two years. What do you want to see the evangelists accomplish?

Reed: I would like to challenge our evangelists to do less instead of more. I would like us to rethink how we are doing our revivals/harvest crusades. Evangelists are uniquely gifted in multiple ways. For example, we can be a huge blessing to pastors in the revival preparation process. By spending more time on the sowing, the harvest can be much greater.

Billy Graham astounded us all with simple evangelistic messages. His harvests were so miraculous because his sowing was so great. With God’s help, we can come together and work to repair and restore the relationships between pastors and evangelists one supernatural revival at a time. Revivals work when people work together.

 

The Index: What would be your message to the churches of the Georgia Baptist Convention? How will you encourage them to use the office of the evangelist?

Reed: I believe every God-called pastor’s greatest desire is to glorify God by faithfully building His Kingdom. God has given the Church a toolbox in which to build that kingdom and one of the essential tools listed in Ephesians 4:11 is the office of the evangelist. Pastors and evangelists are biblically essential in the building up of the Church. Our ministries are meant to sharpen each other and when we come together churches literally explode with growth both numerically and spiritually.

 

Gerald Harris/Index

At the keyboard, Jeff Cleghorn accompanies his three-year-old daughter C.J. as she sings “I Am a Promise.”

The Index: How do you assess the moral and spiritual condition in America generally and in Georgia specifically?

Reed: Even lost people can see that our nation is spiraling out of control. II Timothy chapter 3 is unfolding right before our eyes. The Lord warned us that these days would come and He is so gracious that He has put it on high definition TV. Why? So that we will wake up and sound the alarm and realize that it is now or never. Everybody else has come out! It is time for the Church to come out!

Our state, country, and world are primed and ready for a Holy Ghost Revival! I am seeing that lost people are more open to the Gospel than ever before and they are not looking for a cute church, they are looking for the truth. They are looking for a savior!

 

The Index: How important is it for churches to have revivals or harvest days?

Reed: As Billy Graham once said, “If we are going to continue to reach people for Christ in the future we are going to have to go back … back 2000 years and preach the word of God fearlessly!” I am convinced of this! We were baptizing more people in the 1950’s with significantly less churches and less resources than we have today. Why? Revivals! Harvest Crusades! And passionate pastors partnering with hot hearted evangelist!

The majority of the world is hellbound according to Scripture and our time is running out. If the Lord returns this year, I believe we would all want our calendars full of revivals, harvest days, crusades, and ministries that are focused on reaching the lost by the 100s!

 

• If your church is interested in using a full-time music or preaching evangelist you may go to www.cogbe.org for additional information.

The Index: Do you have a word for GBC evangelists who are not members of COGBE? How could they benefit from membership in the organization and how could the organization benefit from their membership and involvement?

Reed: We have some of the greatest harvest evangelists in the world living right here in Georgia. I have met many of them and they have greatly impacted my life! We could make such a greater impact if we could come together in a concerted effort to raise awareness among our churches.

The greatest benefit for them is to give back by encouraging the up and coming evangelists as well as joining with us as we go back into the seminaries and churches to extend the call to those God will raise up to be evangelists.

Gerald Harris/Index

New COGBE president Jon Reed, left, discusses evangelism strategies with outgoing president Dennis Nunn.

Gerald Harris/Index

Music evangelist Erica Branch, far right, leads worship for the evangelists at their retreat Jan. 6-7.