Billy Graham’s death on 21st February 2018 has already been designated as marking ‘the end of an era’ by a variety of commentators. He preached to live gatherings of nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries around the globe. Not surprisingly, it is claimed he has preached to more people than any other human being.
Will you join me in praying that the ending of one era might be the heralding of another?
Just stop and think about this for a moment, or two. Although Billy Graham, himself an ordained Baptist Minister, preached personally to an un-imaginable number of people, the worldwide Baptist movement has the capacity to do likewise within the next twelve months.
It’s not rocket science … there are nearly 50 million members of local Baptist churches worldwide … praying for ‘five a day’ represents a move of the spirit of God among more people on a single day than Billy Graham preached during his whole lifetime, as a prolific preacher of the gospel.
I believe Billy Graham would heartily back what is simply a call to embody the Baptist vision, enshrined in the British Baptist Declaration of Principle as, ‘the duty of every disciple to bear personal witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to take part in the evangelisation of the world’.
‘But I am not Billy Graham!’ You may be thinking what I’ve heard said many many times.
Here are a few of my thoughts for starters:
- There’s only one me, just as there was only one Billy Graham. I need to pursue the person Jesus calls me to fully become. Billy’s ‘get up out of your seat’ applies to all of us: everyone, everyday, everywhere. Our first step in discipleship, in this sense is no different to our last … it needs activating to make sense.
- Mass evangelism only ever worked because of a combination of the thousands of individuals who brought people to crusades, a clarity of presentation of the gospel in language which resonated with the heart needs of those attending and the anointed evangelist. I had a role then, I have a role now in the mission of God.
- How much of my ‘it doesn’t work that way any more’ has become (effectively) a withdrawing of opportunity for people to respond to the hope of the gospel? A lack of confidence in the gospel is one the most frequently cited concerns I hear today in conversations around the challenges facing our UK churches. Yet Talking Jesus shows us that it’s not great explanations we need, but to articulate His story in our lives.
Here are just two opportunities to ‘get up out of your seat’ that I’m aware of at the moment:
For those of you located close to new housing, the National New Housing Conference on April 28th might be just the right catalyst to inspire you. If you are interested in exploring what it would look like to engage with new housing near you, or if you are already committed to missionally engaging with new housing, don’t miss out on this – for more details click here.
RenewWellbeing is a charity founded by Ruth Rice who helps people set up ‘Quiet shared spaces where it’s OK to not be OK’ alongside existing cafes or in other shared premises, in partnership with local Mental health services, and established around a quiet space with a rhythm of prayer. Find out more on their website.