An Hourglass and Evangelism
Picture with me for a moment, an hourglass. It’s a device used to measure an allotted amount of time, correct? As you recall, it is comprised of two glass bulbs---top and bottom---and connected vertically in the middle by a narrow neck (the smallest part of the device); the neck’s main job is to regulate a slow, steady stream of sand to pass from the top bulb, to the bottom one. Once all the sand has moved from the top to the bottom, the hourglass is reused indefinitely by inverting the bulbs and beginning the timed process once again.
One of my greatest heroes, Dr. Billy Graham, once encouraged me with a sensational object lesson. He asked us to imagine the three main facets of our evangelism work in correlation to the components of an hourglass: preparation (the top glass bulb), the preaching of the Gospel (the ‘neck’), and follow-up discipleship for new believers (the bottom glass bulb).
The Power of Preparation
"Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.” - Proverbs 24:27 (NIV)
There are numerous months and countless hours spent in the ‘preparation’ phase. Time, relationships, and training should be invested upfront before a festival. Spiritual fruit remains long after a team leaves a festival city when preparation has been prioritized from the very beginning. If a local church does not grow after an event, then our work is in vain. Our prayer and purpose is not an event; it's to grow the church of Jesus Christ! May we never be in the ‘event business’ but rather that of life transformation! Lasting transformation is birthed out of much time, effort, training, resources, and relationships. In other words, personal transformation means church transformation, which equals city and nation transformation!
The Bible tell us in the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3-8) that the moment spiritual ‘seed’ drops onto varying ‘soils’ of the heart, the enemy does all he can to steal hope, kill joy, destroy futures, trample peace, and choke out the Spirit’s work. Therefore, knowing what we know about the enemy, we thoroughly prepare. We go into battle aware, armed, and equipped to defeat him through prayer, the Word, and the power of His Holy Spirit.
Preach the Grace-filled Gospel
“I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation!” –2 Corinthians 6:2
The preaching of The Message is the crux of it all, and yet it’s only a fraction of the equation! Just as sand passes through the narrow opening of the hourglass, so the Gospel passes through the preacher to the people. My job, our job, is not to “bait and hook” anyone, or try to “sell” the content. My small part of such a great big opportunity is simply to deliver Truth, to be the Lord’s mouthpiece. And to the best of our ability, we must keep it pure, simple and relevant. From there, the Holy Spirit does the work. He changes one life at a time, one family, and then another. And that kind of transformation revives a home, then a church, and eventually a city! THIS is what we are blessed to do, see and experience! It’s one of the greatest honors on earth.
There is Fortitude in Strong Follow-Up
“Better is the end of a thing than its beginning…” -Ecclesiastes 7:8 (ESV)
Think about this: when a baby boy is born, he doesn’t stay alive simply because of being born; he continues breathing, growing, learning, and living because he is intentionally cared for! Birth does not guarantee life. In most cases, nurturing the new life does! Newborns in Christ, regardless of age, are the same way. Therefore our efforts, energy and resources should be driven to over-prepare the local Church with over-the-top follow-up! Ephesians 4:11-12 NIV says, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” (NIV) This passage rightfully demands we [evangelists] are to equip, nurture and train the body of Christ so each person can fulfill his/her role and calling as a fellow follower of Jesus.
Strong follow-up consists of investing ample time, effort, prayer, and resources into training materials, Bibles, and towards local pastors and churches, so new believers can get plugged in immediately with other Christians after making their new commitment to faith.
A Holy Ambition
“LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known…” –Habakkuk 3:2
Our intention, of course, is never to fail at follow-up or skimp on rigorous prep work. Praying for God’s wisdom to nurture and prioritize these areas is essential. We have a great privilege: seeing souls move from spiritual death to life---like sand in an hourglass---by the deliverance of a simple, profound, and timeless Message.
The Gospel is the heart of our evangelistic endeavor, but the strength of ‘muscle tissue’ and support of ‘bones’ are equally as important! Implication: tedious preparation and faithful follow-up have lasting power, my friends! Don’t quit. Don’t cut corners. Don’t give up! If we shepherd prayerfully and in wisdom and love, I’m convinced it will revolutionize an individual and then by God’s grace, transform a family, then change a city, revive a country, and ultimately impact the world.
Don’t you want to bear witness to a global revival like this? I do too, desperately! O, God, this is our greatest ambition!
May Christ’s glory invade our world like wildfire… beckoning His magnificent Kingdom to come and His perfect will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Mike lost his father in a tragic car accident when he was only six years old. He found comfort and forgiveness in a personal relationship with Jesus at age 10. The calling to do the work of evangelism became a burning passion in Mike’s heart by age 19. Silva spent 15 years serving as a church pastor, a missionary in Brazil, and a national director of evangelism until Mike Silva (Evangelism) International was formed in 1994. He has since had the deep privilege of sharing the Gospel with millions globally.
Mike is devoted to his wife, Crystal, and together they have four adult daughters, son-in-laws and 8 grandchildren (and counting). Find out more at mikesilva.org, or follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.