Every few months I speak to the incredible staff at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association here in Charlotte. Several of the folks are a part of Elevation, and the more I get to know Paul and the team, the more impressed I am by the spirit of excellence that radiates from every corner of that ministry: from the cleanliness of the bathrooms to the integrity in the boardrooms. I have told them that they are probably the largest crowd I’ll speak to all year, because by speaking to the group of a couple hundred staff, I am speaking to the millions they touch through the largest evangelistic association in the world.
Holly recently told me that the next time I was speaking over there she wanted to go with me and tour the new Billy Graham Library. So we did.
And I experienced a series of life changing moments as my new friend Don gave us a tour.
I guess you could call it my rededication to the Gospel.
And it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.
I’ve taken a little heat in the last few weeks during the most explosive period of growth in the short history of Elevation, and in the last few days, it really started to sting my soul a little bit. I’m certainly no martyr, but man! When people take shots at your motives and intentions, it hurts! I don’t care what anyone tells you, it’s painful. The impetus behind the majority of the criticism is:
Elevation places an unhealthy amount of emphasis on evangelism…
And after hearing that one too many times, you can start to second guess yourself.
But as I walked from exhibit to exhibit with my beautiful wife, watching video of multiplied thousands respond to the pure and powerful Gospel of Christ that Dr. Graham preached, something shifted inside of me, and I don’t think I’ll ever be the same.
I am rededicating myself to leading people far from God into a relationship with Jesus Christ through the bold preaching of the Scriptures.
I am rededicating myself to the hyper-focus on evangelism that Jesus seemed to advocate in Luke 19:10. Those who don’t like it can happily find a home at one of our 720 other wonderful churches in Charlotte proper. And I wish them well. I really do.
I am rededicating myself to the vivid realization of what is at stake every single Sunday as I stand to preach to dying men and women who have no hope outside of Christ. I will give shamelessly intense invitations for people to enter into a relationship with Christ, and I will let this instruction from Jesus set me free to liberally offer the Gospel to all people, and let Jesus sort out the sincere from the insincere.
I am rededicating myself to selective hearing. Those who have a vision other than this vision: So that people far from God will be filled with life in Christ… will not gain an audience with me regarding the direction of this church. Their complaints will not occupy valuable space in my heart. That space is reserved for the compassion Jesus wants me to feel for the lost and hurting. The people He died to save.
I am rededicating myself to the DOMINATION of this city by aggressive and strategic measures. Dr. Graham’s legacy of unapologetic, Holy Spirit filled, old fashioned Gospel preaching will continue in Charlotte in this man and this church.
I will not waste another nanosecond engaged in fruitless debates about methodologies. I will simply advance the Gospel, by any means necessary. They called Dr. Graham a heretic when his organization started making movies… that was the “devil’s arena.” The church has given up too much ground and run away too far too fast from culture. I am rededicating myself to harnessing and leveraging any cultural medium which will help me communicate the themes which are concurrent in Christ and culture. I will speak into every vital component of this culture, I will not shrink back. The earth is the Lord’s, and I am His child.
I am rededicating myself to the confident humility that Dr. Graham’s ministry so wonderful exemplifies.
Without Christ, I am nothing.
But in Him, all things are possible. And nothing is too hard for Him.
This is just the beginning of my rededication. Elevation, if you think I was edgy before, you haven’t seen anything yet. I’m going over the edge, past the point of no return, as we join together to reach your lost family, friends, and all the others you influence daily.
Only the Gospel matters to me. Denominational loyalties don’t. Program oriented preferences don’t. Misunderstandings about my motives don’t.
Seeing the system of a city overturned by the Gospel, ignited by the passionate preaching of God’s Word, and fueled by the force of the Holy Spirit of God, is my rededicated focus.
Rededication brings revolution.
And the revolution is just beginning.
Now that I remember what I’m fighting for, the blows don’t hurt so bad.