In a rapidly changing world, the significance of the role of the evangelist remains.
The year was 1959. On one sunny summer afternoon, a church layman named Lyle left his house and drove his green 1952 Ford to East 6th Street in Pueblo, Colorado, walked up to the front porch, knocked on the screen door, and invited an 11-year-old boy named Norman to ride the Sunday school bus to the Church of the Nazarene. What in the world was he thinking? “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Responding to God’s Call
In the Sunday night service after the pastor’s message, during the second verse of the hymn, “Softly and Tenderly,” I stepped into the center aisle, knelt at the altar, and wept my way to Jesus. After moments of sincere, heartfelt prayer, confessing and repenting of my sins, I stood to my feet with teary eyes and a toothy grin. I sensed God’s forgiveness and knew that I was saved!
Later that same year, I fully consecrated my life to God, surrendered to His will, and received the infilling of the Holy Spirit. He cleansed my heart from all sin and sanctified me for His holy purpose. “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
Following these life-changing commitments, I accepted God’s unmistakable call to be a preacher.
They even let me preach my first sermon at the Nazarene Young People’s Society (now Nazarene Youth International) service on a Sunday night when I was just thirteen.
During my years in Pueblo, from ages eleven through eighteen, I was nurtured and encouraged by loving, caring pastors and laypersons. They taught me with Christlike patience and wisdom. My grasp and understanding of spiritual life and doctrine began to gel. They helped me see the clear lines between Arminian/Wesleyan theology, Calvinism, and Pentecostalism. There was nothing vague about what they believed, preached, and taught.
Augmenting this edification from my local church was the training I received at Pasadena College. I am so thankful that this school helped me see through shallow, perfectionistic, unbiblical legalism and enabled me to avoid overly hyped, fanatical emotionalism, with its tendency toward manipulation. “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil…” (Hebrews 5:14).
I have cherished memories of the Los Angeles District Camp Meeting held in the auditorium of Pasadena College in the summer of 1967. That week it became unquestionably clear that the eventual focus of my ministry would be itinerant evangelism.
The college chaplain, Dr. Reuben Welch, affirmed this direction but wisely advised me to serve in the local church to gain needed experience. It was helpful for me to serve three years as a youth pastor and seven years as a pastor before going on the road in 1979.
Now, decades past, I have a deep appreciation for every pastor, teacher, professor, and counselor who invested in me. I also appreciate the accountability they required. I feel profound gratitude for the local preacher’s license given from Pastor Earl Lee, the district license from Dr. Guy Neese, and the ordination certificate from Dr. V. H. Lewis. What in the world were they thinking? “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5).
The Role of an Evangelist
I am absolutely convinced of the significance of the role of the evangelist. Although many things have changed in the church since that first Sunday morning when I boarded that old yellow Sunday school bus, some priorities remain unchanging: lost people still need to be saved, believers still need to be sanctified, the church still needs to be revived, and pastors and spouses still need to be encouraged. These priorities deserve my unrelenting commitment and determined effort.
We must remember: “It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13).
As a longtime evangelist, I have serious concerns about the compromise of strong biblical preaching, especially in regard to the doctrine of entire sanctification.
We must not relinquish who we are as a church.
We should refuse to chase after every sensational fad or trend.
From all of our varied backgrounds, each of us has received innumerable benefits from God through the Church. My prayer is that the ministry of evangelists can help us all pass on the untainted truth of God’s Word and make a significant difference in many lives.
Norman Moore is a tenured evangelist in the Church of the Nazarene based in Chandler, Arizona.
Holiness Today, Jan/Feb 2018