Meador: 'Get in the field' & evangelize by example
BALTIMORE (BP) -- It begins with a man, and pastors must be that man who will "get in the field" and evangelize by example among hurting people who need the Gospel, Texas pastor John Meador urged in the convention sermon during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.
Noting the poverty of pastors he met last year in India who were being faithful amid persecution, Meador pleaded with pastors not to squander their usefulness in God's Kingdom amid a culture where Christian influence has waned with a lack of Gospel proclamation.
Meador, pastor of First Baptist Church in Euless, spoke to messengers today (June 11) at the Baltimore Convention Center.
Citing the 1 Chronicles 11:11-14 account of David's three mighty men who were peerless in their courage against the Philistines, Meador said their faithfulness came in a "small, obscure field."
"The field was of little value materially. This was more a matter of principle for these men, because this was God's field and the enemy was encroaching upon it.... To abandon this field was to abandon more than a field; it was to abandon a nation and a kingdom."
The Old Testament battlefields parallel the New Testament fields of harvest that inspired the apostles to "turn the world upside down," Meador said, noting "there is a high-stakes battle" for souls.
The men recognized three things: their responsibility, the encroachment of evil by the Philistines, and that God was on their side, Meador pointed out.
"It's not unlike the storyline that we read all the way through the Bible. This is the story of Abraham, Moses and Joshua. It's the story of Gideon and Joseph and Daniel, David as he faced Goliath. … In Hebrews chapter 11 it is those few who have recognized their responsibility."
The three men knew that if they left, the battle was lost, Meador said. "The application for the present day is going to be about the Gospel, because that's the war we're in, that's the battle we face."
Meador recounted how his dad got him a job working on a peanut farm in Oklahoma as a teenager. Looking over the long rows of overturned dirt and a pile of hoes on his first day, Meador asked the foreman what he should do.
"'Grab a hoe. Pick a row. It's that simple,'" the foreman told him. "It's about the fields," Meador said.
Yet some fail to share the Gospel because they simply don't want to or they don't really believe it is the cure for sin, Meador said. Others are ashamed of Christ in an unfriendly culture. Some church members simply have never been taught how.
As Gospel-sharing churches have waned, sin has become unrestrained in the culture, Meador said, noting, "When the Gospel is absent from society, God-consciousness is diminished and depravity runs bold and free, and it is today."
People are asking, "What will change this?" but "the right question is this one: 'Who will change this?'"
Meador emphasized that his sermon was not primarily about a convention of 45,000 churches or an organization, but about pastoral leadership.
"It's about the man. And not just any man but the specific man God has called to be a strong soldier."
The apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:5 urges Timothy to endure hardship, be sober-minded and "do the work of an evangelist," Meador reminded the messengers.
The three mighty men in 1 Chronicles 11 also recognized the encroachment of evil and took on God's righteous anger -- something pastors must assume at the lostness around them.
If pastors won't speak for those headed to hell, who will? Meador asked.
"If I won't share the Gospel with my unreached neighbors, no one will.... You and I have to come to a place where we just can't take it anyone," to be moved enough "to apply the solution. And the solution is to sow the Gospel into the fields."
Finally, the mighty men recognized God was on their side and were prepared to die on principle.
Saying that he senses God telling him he can preach only what he lives this year, Meador told of First Baptist Euless beginning a weekly evangelistic training and outreach called "Can We Talk?" with him leading the way and more than 300 adults trained and actively witnessing to people each week.
"That report session [on Wednesday nights at church] is like a revival service with testimonies," Meador said. "... You can imagine what that does for the individual believer who knows he's been empowered by the Holy Spirit."
Meador closed by calling pastors to "die on that hill now, get in that field now," and in calling people to the platform in prayer seeking a movement of God.
"Give us the revival that obedience brings," Meador prayed.
Jerry Pierce is managing editor of the Southern Baptist Texan (www.texanonline.net).