1. Independent Baptists are characteristically twenty or thirty years behind the culture in almost every respect. Though I could address the different ways in which this is true, this morning, I want to move quickly to a specific concern that interests me, the evangelistic models used by my compadres in working to bring souls to Christ and to build their Churches.
2. For this discussion, there are actually three evangelistic models, if you will, or three philosophical positions from which independent Baptist pastors administer the soul winning efforts of their respective Churches. Two of these models prevail, with a third waiting in the wings, and I would like to see independent Baptists for once take the lead in adopting this third model to effectively bring souls to Christ and to build Churches.
3. The first of these evangelistic models came into being as a result of the ministry of Charles G. Finney. When Finney is properly placed into the historical and technological context in which he belongs it is seen that Finney’s evangelism seems strikingly similar to the Industrial Revolution arising at that same time. His approach to evangelism seems to have adapted the principles of the Industrial Revolution, with its emphasis on processes and mass production, to evangelistic crusades. Though popular, this was not good.
4. Let me call this first one the Promotional Model, since it was adapted and fine tuned over the years into what came to be characterized as the Billy Sunday approach to evangelism and the Jack Hyles big day promotion approach to Church building and to getting folks "saved." Big crusades and big days preceded by intense door to door visitation and attempts to "win folks to Christ" on the door step characterize this model.
5. What I call the Promotional Model is also characterized by emotionally manipulative sermons in which folks are urged to indicate by uplifted hand their need for Christ and are then urged to come forward to "the old fashioned altar." There they are typically dealt with by workers who seek to lead them in some form of sinner’s prayer. This done, there is then an attempt at baptizing "converts" as quickly as possible after they have made a profession of faith, hopefully during that same Church service.
6. This Promotional Model began to fall into disfavor with many pastors over the passing of time, for a number of reasons: First, the Promotional Model is a pastor killer, literally crushing preachers under the responsibility of running a Church program that always seeks to top the previous big day, and to outdo the former effort. The motivational skills of those pastors who seem to successfully engage in this approach to ministry are incredible. But the toll in ministerial casualties is too high for most pastors to endure.
7. The Promotional Model also fell into disfavor because of dwindling results. You just can’t attract a crowd by having the world’s longest ice cream sundae anymore, or the world’s longest hot dog. The problem, of course, is that the Promotional Model of evangelism and Church building is essentially a manipulative approach to bringing people to Christ, even the door to door soul winning approach that they use.
8. Anything and everything is done to elicit from the sinner a mere profession, by getting them to come forward or bow the head or raise the hand, or by doing something, anything, that the preacher can count as a decision for Christ. All the better if you can get them into the tank. The problem, of course, is that most of those kinds of so-called converts never darkened the Church doors again, since they are not genuine converts.
9. Our supreme example of Promotional Evangelism is, of course, Billy Graham. With millions of dollars spent on crusades, tens of thousands attending each crusade, hundreds of people responding and walking the aisles with his pre-planned aisle walkers each night, but with scientific studies showing that those who ended up faithfully attending Churches after the week long crusades easily numbered on one hand.
10. No wonder pastors began several decades ago to buy into the Church Growth ideas associated with Fuller Seminary. They sincerely wanted something better than the old Promotional Model. Now that the Church Growth movement has been around for several decades it is being embraced by independent Baptist pastors.
11. When the philosophy of the Church Growth movement advanced by C. Peter Wagner and others is embraced by independent Baptists I call it the Progressive Model of evangelism. But I alter the name only because those in the ranks of the independent Baptists who employ it like to think of themselves as progressives, when in actuality they are decades behind the efforts of others to resolve some of the problems endemic to the Promotional Model that they are coming to reject.
12. What are the problems of the Promotional Model those employing the Progressive Model are trying to solve? The Promotional Model is terribly impersonal, treating people like they’re cattle to be herded, first down the aisle to the front of the auditorium to a "personal worker" (who usually hardly ever gets their names), then to the baptismal room, and then to the dip tank, and then out the door.
13. There is no warmth, no real personal contact, nothing of a truly meaningful relationship established through- out the entire Promotional Model experience. It’s a wonder anyone gets saved when they are treated like that! But God is merciful, and some few do get converted. But not many. That’s why the Promotional Model is being abandoned by so many Baptist preachers in favor of the Progressive Model, which they feel is more real, more genuine, and more personal, though it isn’t.
14. Granted, with the newer Progressive Model there is a recognition that the old way really is manipulative, and really is impersonal, and really doesn’t result in very many people getting saved, despite generating impressive numbers of professions and baptisms. But if the old method had resulted in even a moderate number of real conversions pastors wouldn’t be abandoning it in favor of something else. Would they?
15. The Progressive Model promises to take a different approach. The pastor using this second approach knows that almost no one gets saved from door to door soul winning. And he knows that almost never does anyone get saved when an evangelist is brought in for protracted meetings. Underlying everything, which may never be verbalized by the pastor, is the feeling that the old Promotional Model is terribly impersonal and cold.
16. So he moves toward the Progressive Model that promises to be more personal, more intimate, more real. To do this he must reinvent his personal ministry and the entire Church ministry so it will be "user friendly," and oriented toward "seekers." Of course, the music is changed from traditional to contemporary, and the atmosphere is relaxed and much more casual. Dress becomes quite informal; like dressing for 7-11.
17. Such an approach to ministry is almost always the result of either a direct or indirect influence from a pastor named Rick Warren, who wrote a book based on the numerical success at his Church. The title of the book is "The Purpose Driven Church," and it might even be good for me to call this second model of evangelistic practice the Purpose Model instead of the Progressive Model. Baptist pastors all over the country are flocking to Rick Warren’s approach to ministry, the Progressive Model, or we could say the Purpose Model.
18. The problem with the Purpose Model, or should I say the Progressive Model, is that for it to succeed visitors must be comfortable in Church, visitors must be greeted with music that they like, and with the kinds of sermons they feel comfortable with. Whereas the old Promotional Model usually greeted visitors with confrontational preaching that was geared toward an immediate decision for Christ, the Progressive Model of preaching is decidedly not confrontational, and is not geared toward moving the visitor toward an immediate decision for Christ, but toward an eventual decision for Christ.
19. Understand that I am stripping down my analysis of the development of this entire phenomenon because of the shortage of time available to me on this Sunday morning. I’m only dealing with a few of the more obvious traits of each evangelistic model. How each model is reflected in music, or in the apparent nature of sinners, and the underlying doctrinal basis on which each is founded, I simply have no time for.
20. Though the Progressive Model of evangelism is at least thirty years old, it is only now making significant headway among independent Baptists. And even the very conservative pastors who insist that they are not abandoning the "old paths" have already given in to the Progressive Model, because they grudgingly admit that door to door soul winning just doesn’t work, and bringing in an evangelist to get folks converted just doesn’t work. My goodness, even evangelists tacitly admit this, since they almost always gear their ministries toward "reviving and encouraging" God’s people these days, instead of getting the lost saved. They know they’re not getting anyone saved. That’s why they’ve changed the focus of their preaching.
21. So, here come the independent Baptists, adopting for their evangelistic model the Progressive Model, the Purpose Model, if you will. But you know something? After the new is worn off (and it’s already beginning to wear off in those Churches that originally adopted this approach), it, too, will be abandoned as ineffective. And in twenty or thirty years independent Baptist Churches will also abandon the Progressive Model, the Purpose Model, being as they typically are, three decades behind everyone else.
22. Now, let’s ask ourselves why this Progressive Model will also be abandoned. Some will say, "Because the culture has changed, which is why we abandoned the Promotional Model." That’s not really correct. The real reason the newer Progressive Model will someday be abandoned is because it, too, is flawed, just like the Promotional Model. It doesn’t really work. The reality is, the two models are actually very much alike.
23. Only difference is, instead of herding people back and forth to Church in busses, like the Promotional Model does, the Progressive Model entices visitors to come with slick Hollywood style production values, professional type musicians and singers, and discipleship classes that are only sophisticated cattle pens.
24. Folks, such an approach to dealing with people is just as impersonal as the Promotional Model, only more subtle and difficult to recognize for what it is. It is more entertaining. But it, too is manipulative, and manipulative techniques always run out of steam in the long run, since those who have been manipulated again and again become more and more immune to such means of influencing them.
25. So, when that approach begins to lose its luster and when its effectiveness and newness wears off, it will be discarded for something else. And it will be discarded for the same reason the older model was discarded. It doesn’t really result in people getting saved. Very few, anyway. You see, at the root of the Progressive Model is decisionism, just like what’s at the root of the Promotional Model.
26. What will replace the Progressive Model will be worse, just as the Progressive Model is really worse than the Promotional Model. How is the Progressive Model worse than the Promotional Model? There are many things I could say, but let me say this one thing: The older Promotional Model preaching is better than the newer Progressive Model preaching, because Promotional Model preaching is at least confrontational, and at least openly against sin, while Progressive Model preaching isn’t preaching at all, but is actually only teaching. And it’s not even pointed teaching, there is such a concern not to offend anyone. So, sin isn’t rebuked as openly and as strongly as it used to be, and as strongly as it needs to be.
27. But I mentioned three competing models. The third model is what I will call the Personal Model of evangelism, because it is the model of reaching out and bringing lost people in to Church, and dealing with them in Church, in a most personal way. With the Personal Model people are not herded like cattle after they are preached to. With the Personal Model sinners seeking Christ are not dealt with impersonally by well meaning but incompetent "personal workers," who give them short shrift and don’t even know their names.
28. Rather, they are dealt with by someone who is skilled, trained, knowledgeable, and (most importantly) personally interested in their welfare. They are dealt with in an intimate evangelistic encounter by the God-called pastor. During this encounter the pastor counsels for conversion. But the pastor does his counseling in the context of a community of converted Church members who stand ready to benefit, and bless and befriend this new friend they are praying into the family of God.
29. Folks, this was the way pastors dealt with sinners before Finney’s "New Measures" were used to manipulate and incite the masses, giving rise to the Promotional Model of Billy Sunday and Billy Graham and Jack Hyles, which is only now being discarded in favor of the Progressive Model of Bill Hybels and Robert Schuller, with their unscriptural and non confrontational preaching.
30. I sincerely hope that pastors can be persuaded to adopted the Personal Model of evangelism, which will result in more real conversions to Christ. Why? Because the alternative to the Progressive Model is already coming to the fore. It’s the Production Model, and it’s TBN, the ultimate in impersonal Christianity. Just stay at home and watch the Production Model on television, clapping your hands and praising the Lord as folks call in with their pledges to celebrities seated on garish and vulgar production sets.
31. Who can compete with Bishop Jakes, and Paul and Jan Crouch, and Jack and Rexella Van Impe, and John Hagee? Certainly not someone who has a Scriptural ministry. Certainly not someone who is a real pastor who seeks to shepherd God’s flock, instead of being content to take them for all the money they’re worth.
32. The approach that I advocate, which I will spend the rest of my life advocating and seeking to advance, is the approach found in God’s Word. Turn in your Bible to the fourth Psalm, where we see David’s evangelism.
When you find the forth Psalm, please stand for the reading of God’s Word.
To the chief Musician on Neginoth, A Psalm of David.
1Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.
2O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah.
3But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him.
4Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
5Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.
6There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.
7Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.
8I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.
26. Please notice, from verse 1, that this Psalm is actually a prayer. But though it is a prayer, true enough , and though David does plead with God and remind God of past blessings when he cried out to God in distress, we find in the body of David’s prayer his own efforts to seek the conversion of the lost described for us to learn from.
27. So, moving quickly and using the outline in your bulletin as a guide and for later reference, five components found in David’s evangelism that ought to be found in our Church’s efforts in getting the lost converted.
1A. FIRST, IN VERSE 2, THERE IS CONFRONTATION
"O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah."
1B. In His Famous "Treasury Of David" Commentary On The Psalms Charles Spurgeon Describes This Verse As An Expostulation. I Had To Look That Word Up. It Means "An Earnest And Kindly Protest." I Think Spurgeon Is On To Something With His Description Of This Verse.
2B. David Is Pleading With The Lost About Their Wrongdoing Toward Him (Turning His Glory Into Shame), And About Their Love For Vanity (Empty And Meaningless Things), And About Their Seeking After Leasing (Their Susceptibility To Lies And To Lying).
3B. So, There Is A Confrontation Of Sinners Advocated By David, But Not As An Enemy. Even Though He Was Wronged By Sinners His Rebuke Of Them For Their Sins Was On Their Behalf, For Their Benefit, And Done As A Friend.
4B. My, How We Should Learn From This Godly Example When Witnessing. Never Should We Use A Witnessing Opportunity To Vent Our Spleen Toward The Lost And "Tell Him Off" In A Supposedly "Sanctified" Way. Rather, Let Us Befriend And Bless As We Witness And Warn.
2A. SECOND, IN VERSE 3, THERE IS INSTRUCTION
"But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him."
There are two things David tells to the sinner, to provide a factual basis for his faith.
1B. First, David Informed Sinners That The LORD Sets The Godly Apart For Himself.
In other words, God saves men. And when He saves men and they become thereby godly, God sets them apart for Himself. With such words David is informing the lost that it doesn’t have to be enmity toward God. Reconciliation with God is somehow possible.
2B. As Well, David Informed Sinners That There Is Advantage For The Man Who Is Reconciled To God
We live in a dangerous world. David’s world was more obviously dangerous. So it was a wonderful testimony to be able to say that God heard him when he called for help. Men in David’s day knew they needed help. Men today also need help, but few actually realize their need for help from God.
3A. THIRD, IN VERSES 4-5, WE SEE EXHORTATION
"Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD."
David is actually exhorting the sinner to do two things here:
1B. First, In Verse 4, He Is Actually Exhorting The Sinner To Strive, Without Using The Word Strive
Look at verse 4 again. To "stand in awe" means to be afraid. To "commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still" means to reflect, to consider, to ponder. "Selah" means to pause. David is here urging upon a sinner the need to be under conviction regarding his sins, and to reflect upon his lost condition when he is alone on his bed! And how many times have I urged sinners to do the same thing, Luke 13.24? David is counseling for conversion here.
2B. And If The Sinner Has Done What David Told Him To Do In Verse 4 He Will Ask, "What Must I Do To Be Saved?" David Then Tells What To Do To Be Saved In Verse 5.
1C. To "offer the sacrifices of righteousness" does not mean to work for salvation. David is here telling the sinner that he must present to God righteous sacrifices, offerings that are given to God by a worshiper who is righteous in the sight of God.
2C. But how can that be accomplished by a sinful man? David tells the sinner how that is to be accomplished: "and put your trust in the LORD."
3C. The revelation of God’s Word was progressive and gradually unfolding. So we do not see a full presentation of the Gospel here by David. Such revelation would have to wait, coming a thousand years later in the Gospels and in the epistles of the New Testament.
4C. But we do have here in seed form the way sinners should be dealt with about their relationship to God and their need for reconciliation.
4A. FOURTH, IN VERSES 6-7, DAVID TESTIFIES OF THE BLESSINGS OF HIS FAITH
"There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased."
1B. My Friends, It Had Not Yet Been Written In David’s Time That "The Just Shall Live By His Faith." That Would Come Centuries Later From The Pen Of The Prophet Haggai. But David Is Showing Us The Essence Of The Life Of Faith Here By Contrasting His Relationship With God With Those Who Insisted On Being Shown Good.
2B. Time Passes Quickly, But David Is In These Two Verses Attesting To The Truth That The Just Shall Live By Faith, An Essential Part Of Any Presentation Of The Gospel To A Sinner. And He Does So By Relating To The Sinner How Superior Is The Gladness God Put In His Heart To The Material Possessions Of The Sinful. Such Testimonies Should Flow Readily From Your Lips, As Well.
5A. FINALLY, THE PSALM CLOSES WITH DAVID EXEMPLIFYING HIS FAITH BY HIS LIFE
"I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety."
1B. David Sleeps The Sleep Of The Safe And The Secure. He Sleeps The Sleep Of The Saved. He Has The Peace That Passeth Understanding. A Faithful Witness Sleeps Restfully When He Retires.
2B. How So? The LORD Only Made Him To Dwell In Safety. And Is This Not To Be Expected? What Is Salvation If It Doesn’t Result In Safety, In Deliverance Out Of Harm’s Way? And Who Knows This Better Than The Man Who Faithfully Witnesses To Sinners?
1. How very effective and how very personal would our efforts to bring the lost to Christ be if we dealt with sinners the way David did?
2. Confrontation of sin, but as a friend. Instruction, that there is salvation from sins to be had. Exhortation, to show the sinner how to strive to enter in at the strait gate, and what precisely to do to find deliverance, which are essentially my tasks as the pastor. And then there are the testimonies which ought to pour from the lips of every one of you believers, and your lifestyle, that exemplifies a real relationship with the Savior.
3. Make this psalm the subject of personal study, Christian, personal meditation and prayer. David walked with God, was a man after God’s Own heart, and he knew how to seek the conversion of the lost.
4. Now, before my very brief sermon, brother Isenberger comes to lead us in a song.
1. I have but a minute or two before reasonable time expires, so allow me to summarize and leave you who are lost here today with but a few thoughts.
2. There are various ways of seeking the salvation of the multitudes. There is the Promotional Model, which features big days, large promotions, that sort of thing. Then there is the Progressive Model, which features efforts to make visitors super comfortable, and where great caution is taken to avoid offending anyone.
3. But both of these approaches are rooted in decisionism, which is the belief that a person is saved by coming forward, raising the hand, saying a prayer, believing a doctrine, making a Lordship commitment, or some other external, human act, which is taken as the equivalent to, and proof of, the miracle of inward conversion; it is the belief that a person is saved through the agency of a merely external decision; the belief that performing one of these human actions shows that a person is saved. Based on decisionism, both of these approaches to reaching the lost are deeply flawed.
4. But the Personal Model for evangelism, which this Church practices, and which was implemented in the past by God-fearing followers of God’s Word, is based on genuine conversion, which is the result of that work of the Holy Spirit which draws a lost sinner to Jesus Christ for justification and regeneration, and changes the sinner’s standing before God from lost to saved, imparting divine life to the depraved soul, thus producing a new direction in the life of the convert. The objective side of salvation is justification. The subjective side of salvation is regeneration. The result is conversion.
5. My friend, do you want to make a mere decision, or are you considering real conversion? If it’s a decision you want to make, I would suggest another Church. If you are interested in exploring this thing called conversion, then look at Psalm 4.4: "Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah."
6. Three items to occupy your mind and heart and we’re finished for the morning:
1A. "STAND IN AWE, AND SIN NOT"
1B. As Mentioned Before, To "Stand In Awe" Literally Means "Stand In Fear." And Why Should You Stand In Fear? Because You Are Being Scrutinized By God, My Friend, And He Is Not Pleased.
2B. You Sin Against God, Which Angers Him. So, You’d Better Stop. Only You Can’t Stop, Because You’re A Sinner, And Sinners Sin. And When You Sin You Sin Against God.
3B. But When You Sin Against God You Anger Him More And More. That’s Bad, Since The Way Of The Ungodly Shall Perish, Psalm 1.6. And God Hates All Workers Of Iniquity, Psalm 5.5.
4B. So, My Friend, You Have A Serious Problem To Consider.
2A. "COMMUNE WITH YOUR OWN HEART UPON YOUR BED, AND BE STILL"
1B. This Is Not A Suggestion. Rather, It’s A Directive To Go To Bed Early Enough Tonight To Be Still, And Think About Your Sins And Your Soul. Don’t Go To Bed So Late That You Fall Asleep Right Away. You Need To Stay Awake Long Enough To Commune With Your Own Heart, And Be Still.
2B. There’s Too Much Running Around And Horseplay In Life When You Have No Time To Commune With Your Own Heart Concerning Your Sin, Concerning Your Destiny, Concerning Your Fate.
3B. You Need To Be Still. You Need To Think About These Important Spiritual Matters. My Friend, If You Don’t Get Converted You Will Spend All Eternity In Hell. That’s Not Something You Should Just Put Out Of Your Mind Without Consideration And Reflection.
4B. What Are You Going To Do? Where Will You Spend Eternity? How Will You Face God In All His Wrath Someday? These Are Things The Wise Think About And Fools Ignore.
3A. FINALLY, WE READ "SELAH"
1B. This Word "Selah" Is Placed Throughout The Psalms Wherever The Psalmist Wanted His Readers To Pause And Ponder, To Consider And Reflect.
2B. So, Not Only Does David Direct His Readers To Commune With Your Own Heart Upon Your Bed And Be Still When You Go To Bed Tonight. He Also Wants You To Pause, To Be Still, To Consider And Reflect, Now.
1. So, let’s follow David’s direction. Let’s pause and ponder. Let’s consider and reflect.
2. And especially you who are not converted. What are you going to do? Where will you eventually spend your eternity?
3. May I suggest you do this with heads bowed and eyes closed? And then, in a couple of minutes, or when you feel it appropriate, you may quietly and without speaking leave the auditorium.
4. You may step into the conference room in a couple of minutes if you want to meet with me this morning to talk about getting saved.