November 21, 2017

Servant Evangelism

Ted McClellan

Last fall I preached a meeting in a small rural church in an unfamiliar town. The pastor, now older, had resigned a larger more intense ministry to work in this slower-paced setting. Four years in advance, while still pastoring the larger church, he had asked me to come for a week of meetings. A couple years went by, and the pastor called to mention that he was now at this rural work and asked whether I would still like to come. I assured him that my purpose was to help him—wherever he was. Little did I know that this was a divinely scheduled turn of events. I thought I was going to this church to have a meeting, but the Lord had some lessons about servant-hood and His faithfulness that I needed to learn.

The two-day drive with my wife and four children was an enjoyable time of singing Patch the Pirate songs and anticipating the week in my mind. After arriving late Saturday evening, the pastor led us to the church and helped us set up the trailer. Tired, we went to bed not knowing what to expect but anticipating a great week of evangelism and revival.

Sunday morning the church van drove in, packed with children. I could tell that this was going to be an unusual week. The children, whose parents were missing, filled up the front of the church auditorium and greatly outnumbered the adults. After we finished the opening song I called all the children to the front and announced that they would help us sing the opening song on Wednesday night. As I turned to the congregation, I mentioned that Wednesday, family night, would feature the children singing to the parents. I encouraged the children to invite their parents.

Then while talking to the pastor after the service, I mentioned the new addition and asked what it was for. Overwhelmed, he said that they needed room for the children that attend their services. While walking out to the addition, he mentioned that due to the meetings they were going to postpone any work on the project. I guess he figured that a visiting preacher would want the extra time during the day for rest or recreation. I immediately thought of my pastor teaching us to use buildings to build people. I turned to the pastor and said, “Pastor, I am your assistant this week; if you have work that needs to get done, I am here to help you.” The pastor smiled and said, “OK. Tomorrow after our prayer time, let’s work on the building together.”

Monday morning, my son Teddy and I met the pastor for prayer and then turned to the building project. God used that time to show me the loving heart this seasoned pastor had for this handful of people. I had the time of my life, my son by my side, helping this pastor. Teddy asked me, “Daddy, why are we doing this?” I said, “Teddy, soon this room will be filled with children hearing about Jesus.” He just smiled and went on working as if to say that was good enough for him. You see, my pastor was right. You do build people through your buildings. What a building time it was for us. Together we finished closing up the exterior wall, finished the wiring, and put in most of the insulation. What a joy to hear the pastor say, “You know we got a lot done this week.” But the greatest blessing was still to come.

Wednesday night arrived. Parent night was finally here. We both believed that many of the bus children’s parents would attend. I can still see the pastor looking out the front door of the church and the disappointment that grew on his brow—no new parents. The church van pulled up, and as on Sunday, a large group of children filed out. The pastor turned with disappointment and said, “Let’s start the service.” The service started, and as I called the young people up to sing, in walked one of the children with his mother. He joined the other kids on the platform and sang the opening song. What a spark of anticipation that added to the evening’s service. I preached on the home, and afterward the mother said, “You know, that’s what I need in my life.” I asked her how she heard of the service. She said, “We were at the park and my son said, ‘Mommy, what day is it?’ I told him Wednesday, and he said that we had to go to church because he was singing in the children’s choir. So we came just as we were.” Well, Mom came again on Thursday and Friday night, and during the invitation on Friday, she came forward to be saved. Wow! What an answer to prayer. The pastor came to me after the service with a smile of joy lifting his face and said, “You know I thought what we needed was crowds of people, but tonight God showed me that sometimes He does it one soul at a time.” Yes, I thought I was going for a great week of outreach ministry, but, oh, what God did in me.

At the time of original publication, Pastor Ted McClellan served at Faith Baptist in Taylors, SC, as the Youth and Outreach Pastor.

(Originally published in FrontLine November/December 2002. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)

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