Albert Mohler, bestselling author and president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, had a clear word for the more than 140 pastors, ministry leaders, evangelists and others who gathered Aug. 31 for a one-day training event at the Billy Graham Library: “There is no Plan B for evangelism in today’s increasingly confused and secular culture.”
Opening God’s Word at the Evangelism Intensive, Mohler pointed to Paul’s urgent message to Timothy: “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2).
“I want to remind you of the challenge Paul gave to Timothy—and by extension to Titus,” Mohler said. “He wrote, ‘Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers’ (2 Timothy 2:14). Then look to verse 15, ‘Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.’”
Moving from Paul’s day to ours, Mohler explained: “You can go to Western Europe—or you can go to Charlotte—and find church people saying, ‘Things have changed, so we need a Plan B.’ The Apostle Paul has only one plan, and that’s the exposition of God’s Word. Look at the text—what’s it called here? ‘The word of truth.’”
Mohler did not underestimate the complexity of the task before pastors and ministry leaders sharing the Gospel in today’s volatile culture. “Despite fears of being called intolerant, I just want to remind you why Plan A is the only plan we have,” he said. “In the preaching of the Word of God, there’s more that is going on than anyone understands.”
He shared the story of an old man who said that when he was a young boy, his parents faithfully took him to church week by week. The lad couldn’t understand why the preacher stood and read big words from a book. He listened, but the words held no meaning for his young heart.
Two decades later, the boy—by then a young Marine serving in the Korean War—was in the midst of a deadly battle. His buddies lay dying around him. He thought not about his dismal conditions or the fear of death, but rather, Mohler said, “That Marine, now an old man, told me, ‘You know what came to my mind? Things that the preacher said. Here I was with buddies dying all around me, and what came to mind were texts of Scripture.’”
So what had happened?
Mohler explained, “When that boy, that teenager, was listening, God’s Word was going into his young heart. The Holy Spirit inspired that boy’s heart, and without him knowing it, the architecture of his heart was being changed.”
This same power is ours today, Mohler said. “If you have been called to preach the Word of God, just preach the Word.” He paused and emphasized, “You’ll never preach a sermon for this life only.” Surveying the audience from right to left, he emphasized, “Through your preaching, sinners will be called to Christ.
“From small country churches to larger city churches, the faithful ones who ‘rightly handle the word of truth’ are doing God’s work, and lives will be changed,” Mohler told the attendees as the afternoon sun brightened the training room. “Times may change, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ doesn’t change.”
The Evangelism Intensive included teaching sessions, worship, prayer and fellowship over meals. Participants also toured the Library’s Journey of Faith exhibits, observing Billy Graham’s practices in evangelism and discipleship up close.
Pastor Larry Redding, from Burlington, North Carolina, said, “I’m here today because evangelism is on my heart. Now more than ever we need evangelism.” Pastor Don Pegg nodded in agreement, adding, “I want my people to feel this burden. I want my congregation to know and share the Gospel.”
Viktor Hamm, BGEA vice president of Crusades, closed the training by asking, “How is the pastor equipped for the task of the Great Commission? You must combine evangelism with prayer.” He added, “Don’t hinder your ministry by prayerlessness. Yes, we need bold pastors today, and boldness begins with prayer.”
Hamm shared a conversation Billy Graham had toward the end of his ministry. A reporter asked the evangelist, “What is your legacy? Is there a word you would like to share?” Billy Graham paused and replied, “Tell [pastors] to preach the Gospel and to pray.” ©2023 BGEA
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.
Wendy Simmons is senior copywriter for BGEA.
Attend an Upcoming Evangelism Intensive
The Billy Graham Library and Archive and Research Center periodically hold Evangelism Intensives to encourage and equip pastors, ministry leaders and others in their calling to share the Gospel. To sign up for information about these and other events, go to BillyGrahamLibrary.org/email.