WHY AN INVITATION?

INVITATION – ALTAR CALL???I am copying and promoting a post from my friend Dr. James Rasbeary.  Bro. Rasbeary pastors the Lighthouse Baptist Church in Wylie, Texas.  He is a church planter and an articulate defender of the fundamentals of the faith.  On his web site there are many helpful tools for those who would serve our Saviour.

The following article, “Why Have A Church Invitation?” is much needed.  In my travels I have found that the public invitation in many churches is one of the least thought through times of the service.  In fact at times I find it to be a weak afterthought.

As folks arrive at church, I believe that the invitation begins with the sign out front and the greeters on the parking lot.  Every ministry should be working toward a positive response to the invitation given inviting folks to respond to the Gospel message.

Of course we must be Holy Spirit led and He must work in the lives of those we would see saved.  At the same time, I believe we should be the cleanest, most prepared, believing, trained instruments we can be.

You can follow his good work at www.broraz.com. I also recommend you follow him on twitter @JamesRasbeary.

Article: Why Have A Church Invitation?

Posted on April 16, 2013 by James Rasbeary

As stated in our last article, “Why Have A Sunday Night Service,” there are two types of traditions in the New Testament:

  1. Traditions that keep men from the truth of God’s Word. These traditions are to be avoided (Gal. 1:14; Matthew 15:3; etc).
  2. Traditions that keep men in the truth of God’s Word. These traditions are to be advanced (2 Thess 2:15; 3:6).

The problem is that we sometimes forget WHY some traditions were started in the first place, and what purpose they serve. Today, many short-sighted men are selling sound traditions at garage sale prices. Like Samson when he tossed aside the jawbone of the donkey, they think that these have served their purpose and are no longer needed (see Judges 15:14-19). Little do they realize that there is still a great deal of potential in some of those old “jawbones.” When thirsty Samson returned to that old castaway jawbone, he found life-sustaining water sent directly from God.

Many in our Baptist churches do not know why we do some things that we do. In recent days I have been more conscious of the need to EXPLAIN some of the why’s of Baptist church life. This is especially important for new members and new converts, many of whom have no church background (I can relate, having never stepped into a church until I was 15 years old).

A distinctive mark of traditional Baptist church services has been the “invitation” or “altar call.” The purpose of this invitational time was primarily to see the unsaved come to Christ. It is also the time in which many present themselves for baptism, church membership, or other public decisions, or simply to take a moment to pray. Many a prodigal has “hit the aisle” under Holy Ghost conviction to get things right with God. Many Baptist churches had “mourner’s benches” of some type or another where people would pray; most churches now use the platform steps as a place to kneel. The fact that many modern Baptists go to church to “worship God” without ever bowing their knees before Him publicly (Ps. 96:6) should give us pause for consideration (obvious health restrictions noted).

The enemies of evangelism have always mocked the “invitation” and continue to do so. Upon examination, such almost always have a perverted gospel in which people cannot really get saved simply and immediately in a church service. Upon further examination, you will find that such rarely, if ever, see anyone saved or baptized, and no wonder.

Allow me to give you ten thoughts to consider concerning church invitations:

  1. A church invitation is in line with our scriptural obligation to invite sinners to “Come.”  Revelation 22:17 –  “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” The Holy Spirit does not say, “Wait.” He says to the sinner, “Come.” The church is told to say, “Come.” This is an invitation! If someone is sitting there thirsty for the water of life, let him “come!” If someone wants to be saved NOW, tell him to “Come… take the water of life freely.”
  2. A church invitation is in line with God’s invitation for sinners to comeNOW.  Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Are you sinful? Come NOW. Are your sins red like crimson? Come NOW. God’s invitation is urgent and immediate – something to take care of TODAY – 2 Corinthians 6:2 “(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)”
  3. A church invitation impresses the lost with the urgency of salvation. James 4:14 “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” Someone sitting in the church auditorium Sunday may not live to the next Sunday. At least give him an opportunity to get it settled before he leaves the building.
  4. It is obvious that some sort of invitation was given on Pentecost.  Acts 2:37-38 “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? (38) Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” These men wanted to get the issue settled then. Peter told them what to do, and to do it NOW. And they did. Acts 2:41 “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” How did this happen? How did 3000 souls receive the word? How did these 3000 souls get baptized without “coming forward” to do so? There were tens of thousands of people present on Pentecost. Many heard Peter’s message; some separated from the crowds to make an IMMEDIATE DECISION. Is this really so different than what happens on a smaller scale in many Baptist churches all across America every Sunday, when the preacher preaches the gospel and some sinner comes forward, in essence saying, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
  5. A church invitation puts the lost person “on the spot” and demands an immediate decision. At the very least, an impression is made.
  6. A church invitation is not the only way that sinners can come to Christ, but it is a way. Many churches have gone wrong in thinking that the only time sinners can be saved is during a church service at the invitation time. This is entirely unscriptural. Others think that people can’t possibly get saved in a church service but must be dealt with for hours or even several days at home. This is also unscriptural. A church invitation is one more method we have of winning souls to Christ – but it is notthe only way. Many times I have seen people raise their hands, but were unwilling to come forward. In talking to them privately, I found that they earnestly wanted to be saved but were afraid. Others have come forward and been saved during the service. The important thing is that people have an opportunity – whether the invitation is given in church or outside of church.
  7. A church invitation allows us to deal with people while they are obviouslyunder Holy Spirit conviction. In other words, strike while the iron is hot.
  8. A church invitation must be worked carefully and properly. My father, at age 16, walked forward in a Baptist church during a revival and was taken immediately back and baptized, without ever showing him a verse of the Bible. He went another 30 years on a false belief that he was saved because they told him that he was, and he had been baptized. Thank God, he is saved now. Every church needs well-trained soul-winners as altar workers – there and ready to help people immediately when they come forward. Each person needs to be dealt with individually. I believe it is dangerous to have 1 person trying to deal with groups of people, especially children. It is not hard to understand salvation, but we must be careful to present it clearly and concisely.
  9. A church invitation is also an opportunity for Christians to respond immediately to the message preached.
  10. A church invitation has proven itself in most, if not all, of the great soul-winning Baptist churches for several generations. Whether some like it or not, people respond to them and get saved.

Many make fun of church invitations. They laugh at “every head bowed, every eye closed,” etc. Yet many of them were saved directly or indirectly through a church invitation. They or their parents or someone likely responded to an invitation at some point. I’ll take the old-fashioned, scriptural invitation. It’s not the only method we use to reach the lost, but it is one we use, and will continue to use.

Thank you for taking the time to read this somewhat lengthy article. Much more could be said. Please, if you are going to preach the gospel, give an invitation – whether you present the gospel to 1000 in an auditorium, or to 1 on their door step. Give people the opportunity to “come now.” God bless.

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JANUARY/FEBRUARY REPORT

2013 A YEAR OF REVIVAL

 What an amazing year we enjoyed in 2012.  God allowed us to have sixty six (66) meetings and preach His Holy Word 198 times not counting funerals and other such private times.  We were blessed by many Fundamental churches that are standing for the truth of God’s Word.  These churches see a steady stream of precious souls coming to Christ.  I enjoyed the REVIVALS, the COUPLES RETREATS, the SPECIAL DAYS, the STEWARDSHIP, the MISSIONS, the SOUL WINNING and the STAFF AND WORKERS meetings.  The diversity really kept me on my toes.  There was a special blessing in working with church planters and their new churches from those just beginning to some two to three years old and growing.

I am believing God to give us a great YEAR OF REVIVAL in 2013.  We have gotten off to a great start with a full schedule through March.  There are about 50% of the remaining Sundays open through the rest of the year. (You can click on the calendar to see available dates).  If I can serve your church in any way, give me a call (502) 386-5521.

Doing the work of an Evangelist reminds me of when I first resigned IBM to enter the ministry with no guarantees and no reserves.  Nancy and I began a .  45 years later we have made a complete circle and once again are living by faith.  We are convinced that our great God will meet every need just as he has for the past 45 years.

 JANUARY AND FEBRUARY 2013

JANUARY 6TH We spent the day in Bedford, KY with pastor Sam Epley teaching and preaching on missions.  God is blessing the ministry of Bro. Epley as the church experiences steady growth.

JANUARY 7TH AND 8TH We made it to Newnan, GA to be with Dr. Doug Anderson Pastor of Bible Baptist Church for a wonderful 2 day Sword of the Lord conference.  I had the honor of preaching with Dr. R. B. Ouellette.  I’m thankful for Dr. Shelton Smith and his faithful productive leadership of the Sword.  Dr. Anderson was a phenomenal host and the meeting was well attended including many area pastors.

JANUARY 9TH We had the opportunity to preach at King’s Way Baptist Church in Douglasville, GA on Wednesday evening where Dr. Bill Wininger is pastor.  This is one of the great churches in the Atlanta area.  They operate a great rescue ministry, three Christian radio stations, a large Christian School and an evening Bible College.  Pastor and Mrs. Wininger were wonderful hosts.

JANUARY 11TH AND 12TH We were back in Newnan, GA with Pastor and Mrs. Doug Anderson for a powerful  two day “MARRIAGE TUNE-UP.”  It was a powerful time with many of the couples from Bible Baptist church and some guests from neighboring churches.  From the responses I got, I believe God did a great work in several families.  In addition we had great food, sweet fellowship and lots and lots of laughs.  The Andersons are living examples of Christian hospitality.

JANUARY 13TH We spent the Sunday at Tri-County Baptist Church in Senoia, GA with Pastor Ron Whitlock.  This is one of the friendliest churches you will ever visit.  A real reflection of the servants spirit of the pastor and his wife.  It was a really good day.  Bro. and Mrs. Whitlock also participated along with some of their people at the Sword Conference and the Marriage Tune-Up.

JANUARY 20TH We got back close to home and had the opportunity to preach in Cynthiana, KY  where Bro. John Chamberlin is pastor.  Bro. Chamberlin was called as pastor at the death of his father Bro. Ray Chamberlin who was the churches founder.  Bro. John is continuing with the strong fundamental stand on which the church was built.  It is an exciting church with great music and a soul winning zeal.

JANUARY 30TH – FEBRUARY 4TH We had 6 wonderful days with Dr. Tim Rabon, his wife. Sharon and the good folks at Beacon Baptist Church: Wednesday a huge stewardship banquet… Thursday preaching to Middle and High School Chapel and a trip to Myrtle Beach, SC for a Couples Retreat… Friday and Saturday an over the top Couples Retreat… Preaching at Beacon Baptist Church Sunday AM and PM… Monday two great sessions with Beacon Baptist Church staff.  Through it all great eating, shopping and fellowshipping with the Rabon’s and their family.

FEBRUARY 6TH We spent time at Emmanuel Baptist Church having enjoyed their Prophet’s Chamber for a couple of days.  I had the joy of preaching at this great church on Wednesday evening for Pastor Steve Rebert.  God has been using him in a mighty way in Winchester, VA.  God has given Emmanuel Baptist Church beautiful facilities and a pastor with a vision and a commitment to do God’s work God’s way.

FEBRUARY 9TH – 10TH We headed to the Mountain Lake Independent Baptist Church of Oakland, MD.  Dr. Dennis Leatherman pastors this great church is doing an amazing job of leadership in a small city in a resort area.  He promotes a “Tract Month” every year.  Several churches now participate and multiple thousands of tracts are distributed.  The booklet he has put together with details of involving the entire church family is available.  If interested check out the web site at www.mlibc.org and click on Beacon Of Truth Gospel Tracts.  We had a great Sweetheart Banquet on Saturday evening and an all day Marriage Conference on Sunday.  I had the opportunity to speak seven (7) times in 24 hours. God was so good.  I thank Him for strength and His presence.

FEBRUARY 15TH Nancy and I drove to Akron, OH to attend the funeral services on Saturday the 16TH  of Dr. Rick Fox a great man of God that had served our Lord Jesus faithfully and built a strong church, First Baptist Church of Kenmore.  I was reminded of the brevity of life and challenged to be a more aggressive Soul Winner.  Please pray for 1st Baptist as they seek a pastor and for Bro. Fox’s family, especially his widow, Patty.  I had the honor to preach for him December 9th and see the strong work God has used him to build.  He will be greatly missed.

FEBRUARY 16TH – 17TH After the funeral we drove to Cincinnati to preach a Couples Banquet and stay over for Sunday services.  The Lord is raising up another amazing church under the leadership of one of our Shawnee Baptist College graduates.  Actually Pastor Nathan Lang and his wife Jenny are both graduates.  Lighthouse Baptist Church of Blue Ash, OH is off to a great start.  Now in their third year they are averaging 120+, seeing folks saved and baptized consistently and raising funds for a permanent location.  I am blessed every time I talk to Bro. Lang by his commitment as a young man to traditional fundamentalism.  By the way, Bro. Nathan and Jenny announced that Number 5 is on the way.

FEBRUARY 24TH The Lord willing we will finish February at Lighthouse Baptist Church in Taylorsville, KY.  Lighthouse is in its 11th year as a church.  We started the Lighthouse mission of Shawnee Baptist Church just a few years before.  They are in a pastor search now and I really enjoy serving and helping in a ministry that we helped get started years ago.  Praying that they will have a bright future.

Thank you for reading the report.  Please keep Nancy and I in your prayers. I thank the dear Lord for the numbers of people saved and the life changing decisions made among church members.  I challenge all of us to tell someone about Jesus today.

Lonnie Mattingly
John 15:8

FINAL REPORT FOR 2012

December has been a great month.  Of course the greatest highlight of the month is the emphasis that is put on the celebration of the birth of our Saviour.  I love many of the aspects of Christmas.  The lights, finding the proper gifts, the meals, the friendships and family are all great highlights of December.  Our travels were brief.  I had the opportunity to preach only 11 times.  I felt like I was on a month long vacation.  The truth is, I really enjoyed being at home for most all of the month.  I was able to catch up on a few necessary items and spend some real quality time with the family. Nancy and I also had the be in our home church, Shawnee Baptist Church, on Wednesday evenings and a couple of Sunday nights.  Our Pastor, Bro. Dave  Delaney, has continued to grow in his role as a young pastor.  I am excited about the potential for the future of Bro. Dave and Shawnee Baptist Church.  I recommend you stop in for a service if you are ever in the area.

SUNDAY DECEMBER 2nd we were with the North Harrison Baptist Church in Ramsey, IN.  Bro. Paul Powell has many health issues and has been trying to retire for a few years.  I was blessed to spend some time with Bro. Powell and fellowship with the fine folks at North Harrison.  Pray for Bro. Powell and the future of this good church.  The Lord met with us in visible ways the times I had opportunity to preach at North Harrison.

SUNDAY DECEMBER 9th we had the joy of spending the day at First Baptist Church of Kenmore in Akron, OH.  The Pastor Dr. Rick Fox has been a faithful servant of God and wonderful pastor to the people of First Baptist.  He has been a personal blessing and inspiration to me.  I am thankful for men like Bro. Fox who have bedrock convictions and a strong soul winning convictions.  It was a real honor to teach Sunday School and preach AM and PM services.  The fellowship was sweet and God’s people were very responsive.

SUNDAYS DECEMBER 16th, 23rd and 30th I had the opportunity to teach the adult Sunday School and preach at Lighthouse Baptist Church in Taylorsville, KY.  The Lord met with us in a wonderful way.  While I was pastor at Shawnee Baptist we planted the church as a mission.  After about 5 years we thought the mission had gained the strength to become an Independent Baptist Church.  We had sent only two men to pastor the church.  Bro. Patrick Nix was the pastor who led them to become a church and they called him as their first Pastor.  Last March the church and Pastor Nix celebrated their 10th Anniversary and I had the privilege of preaching the Anniversary Services.  Bro. Patrick did a great job of leading the church to purchase land and build a a beautiful building.  I was greatly impressed at the strong base that has been built and the functionality of the facilities.  Bro. Nix believes that God led him to resign as pastor in order to be open to God’s leading in his life.  December 9th was his last Sunday at the church.  As a result I had the opportunity to fill the pulpit for three Sundays and give consultation concerning the search and calling of a new pastor.  Pray for this young congregation as they go through a process they have never faced before.

FAMILY TIME: God blessed us with the opportunity to spend some quality and quantity time with our family over the holidays.  I think we make a terrible mistake if we fail to see our families as one of our most important ministries.  We love our Kids (put up with their spouses  ….  Haha just kidding)  and Grandkids.  Church, eating, football, eating, bowling,  eating, Christmas and eating took most of our time.  We pray for our family many times daily.  Our desire is that our Heavenly Father would use every one of them as He sees fit.

FAREWELL 2012: We are excited about the new year and the open doors it affords.  I praise the Lord for 2012 and 63 meetings that included everything from one day meetings to six day revivals.  Then there were the additional number of times at Shawnee Baptist College where I had the privilege to teach a class or preach in chapel. I praise the Lord for the good number of people saved in personal soul winning and at the altar.  I rejoice in the decisions made at full altars week after week by church members.  I am hopeful because of the revival spirit I sensed  in the heart of pastors and church members in meeting after meeting.  Yes, God gave Nancy and I a good year with many good friends but now we must press on.  The fields are white unto harvest.

HELLO 2013: Please pray for Nancy and me.  We want to have a continued and increased passion for souls.  We want to be a blessing to pastors and churches.  We are praying for revival.  We want good health and safety as we travel.  We want a full schedule in this critical time.  At present we have 17 meetings scheduled and are tentatively holding four dates that preachers called us about and asked us to hold while working on their calendars.  If you have a need or an interest for a meeting in this year feel free to call me at (502) 386-5521 or click on the link to my calendar and you can see my schedule up to this point.

The Lord could well return this year.  Let’s all work and pray for Heaven sent Revival.  Let’s keep telling other about our Saviour.  Let’s pray for one another.

For Christ and for Souls,

Bro. Lonnie – John 15:8

START & GROW A CLASS

Here we are at the beginning of a new year.  Christianity and especially Fundamental Independent Baptists have come under attack.  May I remind you that we should not be surprised when the Lord warned us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour”: (1Pe 5:8)

Someone told me the best defense is a good offense.  If were not careful we will be so busy defending ourselves that we will forget to do the work God left us here to do.  I want to challenge you to reach the middle class adults in your area.  One of the greatest ways to do so is to start new classes.  New units grow faster than established units.  The Sunday School is the church organized.  Properly organized and administered the Sunday School will help close the back door and keep new folks coming in the front door.

In my years at Shawnee Baptist I tried to personally start a new class about every two to three years.  It was hard to leave a class I had built.  But, the joy of training new teachers and helping them succeed was worth it.  I developed a couple of check lists over the years  of things that helped me start a class and then build a class after it was started.  I have read many other helps.  The lists below are by no means exhaustive (maybe exhausting).  If you have an existing class you may find some helpful ideas that will trigger some new growth methods for you.

HOW TO START AN ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS

1. Pray for the leadership of the Holy Spirit

2. Select a name for your new class

3. Determine the profile of your class (age, status, area, etc.)

4. Scan the church roll for prospects… Anyone on the church roll who is not enrolled in      Sunday School is a potential prospect.

5. Survey visitors for prospects

6. Set a date for your grand opening

7. Determine the location and arrangements

8. Plan the organization … Start with an assistant if possible (ushers, greeters, secretary, set up, song leader, etc)

9. Decide not to steal from other established classes Instead pray for laborers

10. Build a mailing data base and write letters introducing your new class

11. Organize your class schedule

12. Organize your class records

13. Organize your follow-up procedures… (call, write, visit)

14. Make directional signs to your class… Goal: Be the easiest class to find without being obnoxious or appearing competitive.

15. Make class calling cards or brochures

16. Gather and organize all class tools and materials

HOW TO GROW AN ADULT CLASS ONCE STARTED

1. Scan the crowd 3 times a week looking for prospects (meet every visitor)

2. Visit faithfully (visit every absentee the first time they are absent)

3.  Enroll new people every week

4. Have a goal of at least one lost person in attendance each week

5. Network with existing soul winning programs and outreach people to find more new prospects

6. Keep excellent records

7. Copy your roll book and prospect list as your Sunday School prayer list.

8. Promote the Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday evening services goal: to build your members

9. Build loyalty to the pastor and church in the hearts and minds of your members

10. Set the right example in personal standards and faithfulness

11. Plan some activities (one major activity per quarter and minor monthly) By planning around church services and campaigns you help tie your people to the overall program of the church and build unity

12. Activities can be fun, convenient and inexpensive:

Sun PM pie & ice cream

Sun afternoon picnic – and games

Sundae Sunday night

Video presentation (approved of course)

Work party (paint your class, work on grounds, adopt a flower bed, etc)

Nursing home outing or sponsorship

Use your imagination … there are hundreds of ideas that will build your class without                                      breaking the bank.

13. Establish a class Soul Winning time…

14. Have a goal of winning Soul Winners – 2 Tim 2:2

May this be a great year of Spiritual and Numerical growth in our Sunday Schools.

MY PREACHER’S WIFE

I often jokingly say about my wife, “If I had known that she was going to be a preachers wife, I’m not sure I would have married her.

When 45 years ago God called me to preach we began a new and exciting life together that I wouldn’t change for anything.  It has not always been an easy life.  That’s what makes having a wonderful helpmeet such a great blessing.

Leaving a successful budding career at IBM with two children and no human idea what the future would hold my precious wife never flinched.

She often speaks with me at couples conferences and often without me at ladies meetings.  Her faith and support for me and her commitment to the Lord are a great inspiration to me.  Below I want to share with you a abbreviated glimpse of her testimony.  I hope it will be a blessing to you.

 WHAT IS YOUR LIFE?

Nancy Mattingly

 James 4:14  “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

When I was a child I never once thought I would be the wife of a preacher.  I was raised in a Catholic home went to a Catholic grade school.  We never read the Bible. We were never encouraged to do so.  Hum I wonder why?  You think maybe because it had the truth in it and the truth shall set you free.

In 1967 I was set free, my life was transformed when I gave my heart and life to Christ.  The first thing I wanted to do was to let my family (Brothers and Sisters) know what had happened to me.  To my surprise they weren’t excited.  It is amazing to me how people are afraid for their life to change.  In that little Church in Bowling Green Kentucky  were I got saved my husband was called to preach our lives changed forever.  Yet it seems like just yesterday.  Since that time many of my family members have been saved.

I am so thankful the Lord gave us the time and the courage to witness and be a witness to my family.  Ladies we need to remember that our life here on earth is like a vapor that appeareth for a little time and vanisheth away.  I am so thankful that when the Lord saved me he changed me from the inside out.  He changed my desires and my wants.  He gave me the desire to live for him and not myself.  He helped me to serve him in a capacity which I had never dreamed of or even thought of.  To know Him is to want to serve Him  no matter where you are in your life. I am praying as you read this that if God speaks to you that you will just say not my will but thine Lord.  Remember so little time and the harvest will be over.  What will you do with the rest of your life?

Nancy Mattingly

1 Peter 5:7