SIDEBAR: The Role of the Itinerant Evangelist

An evangelist has a passion to reach the lost. There is a difference between a person gifted in “stirring the saints” to seek God in revival and a person gifted to harvest the lost.

The primary difference is the focus of the preaching. The evangelist’s preaching centers on what God has done in Christ to reconcile the lost to himself. An evangelist is gifted to speak to folks who are lost. He or she relates to the unchurched. An evangelist often has a dramatic personal story of conversion. This can build a bridge with young people.

However, the message extends well beyond any personal testimony. The focus is the gospel — the life, death, resurrection, ascension, and reign of Christ. The evangelist calls hearers to repentance and faith in Christ. He or she is unusually gifted and skilled at extending a public invitation.

Invite an Effective Evangelist

Along with a passion to reach the lost by calling people to repent of sins and trust in Jesus, an effective evangelist has a plan to fill the building with people who need Jesus. Nothing frustrates an evangelist more than a failure to attract large numbers of unchurched people to the evangelistic meeting.

The building may be packed, but if it is packed with only Christians, the crusade service will fail. Every harvest evangelist has a strategy for reaching the lost. Such a God-given plan typically focuses on reaching different groups within the community. Special pre-service events attract men, women, children, and students. For example, the church may serve meals and invite special guests to share testimonies of interest to lost folks.

We use an illusionist to communicate the gospel through magic to hundreds of elementary students. Many harvest evangelists gain access to the public schools via assembly programs. Athletic teams, high school marching bands, and other extra curricular groups receive invitations to the crusade.

The pastor encourages church members to bring lost family members, coworkers, neighbors, and friends to the preservice events. Guests and church members receive prizes for bringing the most friends.

In short, the meeting has an exciting, inviting, celebrative atmosphere. The music should focus on Jesus, the Cross, the Blood, and the Second Coming.

With prayer and preparation, scores of lost people may respond to the invitation to come to Jesus. This ignites revival among God’s people as well. Spirit and water baptisms of new converts should take place in every service.

Follow the Evangelist’s Lead

Pastors, allow the evangelist to lead — and not merely preach — the meeting. Follow the plan and every detail. Help organize your people. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Every member of the congregation must have a responsibility during the crusade.

Remember, the evangelist is a specialist God calls to this work. Release the specialist to lead the crusade. Many evangelists bring in a team that may include a worship leader, youth and children’s workers, and other platform guests.

About the Finances

The congregation should pay all the expenses for the crusade from the church budget in advance of the meeting. The evangelist and his or her team should receive a love offering collected in every service.

Explain to your people the unique aspects of an itinerate ministry. Ask the evangelist about budget requirements, and pray and work to exceed this need. Set a goal for the offering. Believe God, and inform the people of this goal. Keep the congregation posted on the financial progress.

Crusade evangelism is not the only way to reach the lost. But it has proven effective throughout the years, and churches that utilize evangelists win more souls than those that do not.

Scott Camp, a featured program guest with Billy Graham Crusades, preaches throughout the United States and West Africa.