Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The pressure of waiting...

Lex Loizides has shown us a way to do gospel appeals at the end of a meeting and I stick to his model most of the time. After the preaching we sing a song and we have often used the song he uses “Lord I come to You…” Then while people are still standing we ask for those who want to respond to raise their hand.

At this point I am praying, ‘Lord please be with me,’ because I feel under pressure - wanting people to respond. I will then probably say something encouraging like ‘That’s fantastic’, and I’d count them as they put their hands up. ‘That’s one. Thank you. Two...’ Sometimes it’s great and there are four, five… seven. I tell them that God’s here - at that point expressing the love, mercy and compassion of God is important.

We sing the song through once, the band might just carry on playing and I would come back in and say ‘I’m now going to give an opportunity for anyone here to respond to Jesus… ‘. I find it emotionally demanding to do this. I can do all the other stuff in church leadership, lead the meeting, handle the occasional dodgy prophecy and things like that - but there’s a spiritual battle when you stand up and invite a response to the gospel. You have to stand there and you have to make that appeal to people. I’ve found that at times I’ve had to make myself stay there!

We must remember the battle going on in your own heart, and a huge battle going on in the hearts and minds of those who are thinking about responding. I remember the day I got saved, I spent about 20 minutes having a discussion with myself and God whether I was going to count the cost of doing this and make my response. Do you remember that moment? We don’t doubt the battle for souls.

I’ve watched evangelists. They dwell in the moment. They don’t lose courage. They press on. I’m a pastor at heart - I’m concerned that there isn’t some manipulation and emotional pressure here. You know that can happen. Have you ever been in meetings like that? Evangelists don’t seem to worry about it; they’re interested in the lost and their eternal destinies at that moment. I’ve seen Lex wait for a long time and then watched as someone in the church I know responds, their parents weeping in their places - all because he waited. So wait. It’s a faith moment.