Full Show Transcript:
Episode 1 Byrd_Master
[00:00:00] Carlton Byrd: Out of all the things God can do. He can’t fail. Yes. And we say that, you know, we preach that, we teach that, but it’s a cliche for us, I saw it. Out of all of the things he can’t do, he can’t fail.
Kendra Arsenault: Well, welcome back to advent next, a theological podcast curated for curious faith discussions. We’re so excited to kick off this years podcast with dr Carlton Byrd, the senior pastor at Oakwood university in Huntsville, Alabama. Dr. Byrd is also the speaker and director for the breath of life television broadcast. Today, our topic of discussion is evangelism, both the process of introducing new believers to Christ and how to keep them interested in the church longterm.
This episode is brought to you by the Adventist learning community, a platform that offers free online courses and resources relevant to you. You can stay up to date and catch some of our behind the scene footage by following us on Instagram [00:01:00] or Facebook at advent next. My co-host today is Michelle Odinma. You can follow her at the handle. Michelle Odinma music. As always, I’m your host Kendra arsenault, and this is Advent Next.
Carlton Byrd: My father is a pastor, retired Adventist pastor. And so I grew up where annually there was some form of public evangelism. So whether that was a prophecy class, the prophesy seminar, back in those days, a tent.
So tent evangelism, I grew up. That this is a part of who we are. So that was placed in my DNA, my mother’s side, even, you know, evangelistic meetings, tent revivals. Yeah. So that’s a part of who I am. So therefore, when I, you know, accepted the call from God for ministry, a major part of that was leading other people [00:02:00] to Christ.
And I praise God for that because I believe that, um. The Lord in every evangelistic initiative, other people aren’t getting saved, but I’m getting saved all over again, and I believe he has me in his word because he is trying to save me. So for me, it’s, it’s who I am. It’s who I am. So. That’s the best way I can answer that.
Kendra Arsenault: You know, people who might feel discouraged in their local churches or somebody who’s really on fire, but they’re not really seeing the results that they think they should , what kind of encourage would you…
Carlton Byrd: Stay faithful. God rewards faithfulness and let, let me be clear. Let me just tell you a little story.
If I may. Um, I’ve told this before, but you know, everyone thinks Oh, Carlton Byrd. Hundreds, thousands being baptized. Let me tell you, when I first, uh, my first district. I was there at three church district in Southern Mississippi, Laurel, Mississippi. [00:03:00] Soso, Mississippi, Columbia, Mississippi, and I never will forget.
I conducted, I went to the Laurel church, three churches now, and the Laurel church had two members. I’m sorry. Okay. Two. Okay. You know what I’m saying? Come on. Kendra and Michelle , I’m talking about the three of us are the church. Uh, and at that time, you know, I was not married, uh, did my wife and I had not, you know, we weren’t married, so I had no children.
You know, cause sometimes the pastor’s family can Boost the attendance. Talking about two members and they were both over 65 years of age. I’m talking about One Sabbath I was preaching down South, worse than that. One of them lifted their hand down South. They’ll lift up their hand finger. That’s a way of respect saying I need to be excused.
One walked out. The other lifted up her hand. By five [00:04:00] minutes later she walked out and I’m still preaching. Oh no. To me, it’s something that came back in a little later on. And so after church, after I finished preaching, I said, you know, let’s have a business meeting here. I said, I need to understand why both of you walked out.
Did I say anything offensive? They’re like, Oh no, pastor. We just had to go to the bathroom, you know? So we had to Institute a bathroom break. But anyway, we, we had. I had two members in that church. Okay. So everybody thinks Oh Carlton Byrd, breath of life, oakwood church. Two members. I cut the grass, painted walls. I was the janitor. I mean, okay.
Kendra Arsenault: You was the bus driver.
Carlton Byrd: So I said, we have to do some type of evangelism. So I said, Oh, these two ladies. I said, let me run a vacation Bible school. [00:05:00] And so we didn’t have money, uh, because I returned My tithe and offering to that church because they needed it. And my offering pretty much kept everything. Yeah. So I said, ah, we’re going to have a vacation Bible school. And so the pastor, we don’t have any money and we’re all, I said, don’t worry about it. We’re going to do it. And so I didn’t have an evangelism budget, so I put my money in. I never forget, I put like $200 in for me back then.
And, uh, the conference. Director for Sabbath school of which vacation Bible school came under. I called him. I said, I need some help. Do you have anything? He said, I’ll match what you’ve given. And so he said, me $200 so I had a budget, $400 for the vacation Bible school. So I made some flyers, and I’m not a graphic designer, but I made some flyers on my computer.
I printed them. The church didn’t have a copy machine, so I [00:06:00] had to go to a Kinko’s or copier and printed them. I found two young men, they may have been eight or nine, two boys in the neighborhood, and I said, listen, fellows. Here’s some flyers. I want you to pass these out and pass these out and you come back to me.
I’ll take you to McDonald’s or I’ll give you the money. I’ll give you the money. That’s what happened. I give you the money to go get a happy meal from McDonald’s. They were excited, so I gave them the flyers to pass out. They came back to me. I gave them money for happy meal. They were excited. Opening night.
It was a Sunday evening. Opening night of Vacation Bible School, 53 children showed up. Oh my goodness. I was so excited. Those two ladies were like, pastor, what are we gonna do? We’re gonna. I said, don’t worry about it. I just need you to prepare the snacks. Right? And I’ll do the rest. So I used to teach the songs.
Wow. Do The lesson, play kickball with them, 53 [00:07:00] kids all week long. So I said, listen, this is what we’re going to do. For Sabbath. Instead of having regular church, we’re going to have our vacation Bible school closing program because my goal was get all the kids there and have their parents come. Sure enough, we have vacation Bible school closed where I thought I was, you know that big church full of people.
You know the kids. I was all so excited. So all the parents came and I got all their addresses. So I say, man, this is good. Cause I said, I’m gonna conduct an evangelistic. Campaign. They said, pastor, what does that does that do with vacation Bible school. Now you’re talking about an evangelist. I said, we can do it. We can do it.
Sure enough, we ran and conducted ev angelistic committee in that church with those two ladies. God blessed us. At the end of the evangelistic series, we baptized three people. Amen. Amen. So we are from two to five, praise God. Right, right, right, right. [00:08:00] So you went from two to five. So. Long story short, at the end of the year, the conference has an awards banquet for, you know, people who, you know, they give trophies and plaques away.
So the conference president gets up and he says, we now want to give the award for evangelism and we want to give the award to the past evangelists of the year of our conference. So I’m thinking I was going to be these people who baptize, you know, great numbers and whatnot. He’s to say, says our pastor evangelist of the year is Carlton byrd. I’m like, what? Because he increased his membership by 150% praise God. Praise the Lord. You know? So I was excited, you know, got this plaque. I still have it to this day. Hey man. And so I’m saying a little becomes much when you place it in the master’s hand. And back then it wasn’t the 100 it wasn’t the fifties it wasn’t the a hundred and fifties it was three people.
But the Lord blessed and went from two to five and so [00:09:00] different ways, you know, from, for me to start it out, it wasn’t just, I’m going to have this mean, it was vacation Bible school, right? And those ladies faith, it was rewarded. God rewards faithfulness. And so I said, you know, Lord you, if we’re faithful in small things.
Yeah, that’s right. We continue to be faithful. He will reward us, and God can trust us with the little things. He can trust us with the big things. So I praise God for that.
Kendra Arsenault: Amen. Wow. And how has, in your experience, I mean, how does evangelism change across contexts? Uh, like, like do you find that you have better results in one area versus another? And how do you tend to change your strategies?
Carlton Byrd: I think that, first, let me say this I think the blessings of God are on people, not places. You know the girl, a lot of people that say, well, Oh, that’s a hard area. This is fertile territory. You know what I’m saying? And while that may be true. The blessings of God are on people, [00:10:00] not places.
Now your expressions where, well, if you’re in Timbuktu somewhere and you get four or five baptisms, that’s like having a hundred in another area and there may be some merit to that, but I still think the blessings of God are on people, not places. You know, God was very clear when he told Joshua. In Joshua one wherever your feet go, wherever they touch, I’ve already been there.
I’ve already blessed. All right. And so I think we have to be mindful of that. Now. I do think we have to, Paul says, I become all things to all people to win, to win the more. So I think we have to be mindful that there are certain things we do in different contexts and cultures, uh, to be more, most effective in reaching people. But we’re very clear. God brings the harvest. You know what I’m saying? He, he, you know, he brings it, he does it. But I do think that within certain cultures, certain contexts, there are certain things you must do to best reach [00:11:00] people. So what we would do in the South, maybe different than what we do out West.
And then even within those cultures, there are changes. What we do in North America might be different than what we do in inter America. Okay. Okay. And I think we have to be mindful of that. Uh, within our North American context. How I would preach a sermon to one audience may be different. Then how preach a sermon to another audience.
So you have to know your audience. Just like with music, you all know this. You know, there are certain songs you would sing a certain way to this audience versus that audience, but the goal is you’re trying to win individuals and people for Jesus Christ. So I think you’ve got to be very mindful of that.
But the blessings are all people, not places, but you have to understand your audience.
Michelle Odinma: So even on along that same train of thought, um, the millennial generation and the gen Z, um, you know, some people or some people in ministry, or just speaking of evangelism in [00:12:00] general, have a hard time, um, contextualizing their evangelism to meet a certain group of people or a certain age group. What do you say about that? What are some, um, why would people be, uh, have trouble doing that?
Carlton Byrd: I think your point is very valid. I think you have to understand that if I’m dealing with persons within a certain age group, the way we seek to reach them attract them must be different. For example, um. We could do a mail-out if I’m doing a major public evangelistic campaign, right?
We could do a major direct mail, uh, to zip codes or whatnot. There might be people who respond. For a millennial or, you know, even someone younger, they don’t, they don’t care. So you have to use social media and whatnot to be able to effectively reach them. And I’m just talking about marketing, but that is an example, my opinion, of how we have the different strokes for different folks, different [00:13:00] strokes for different age groups.
So you have to be mindful of that. So I tell people all the time when we’re, we’re doing breath of life and evangelistic campaign, that it’s not either or. It’s both and. Okay. So we’ve got to do social media for marketing, for example. But we also have to do those traditional or conventional things for marketing as well.
But, but you’re right, and you have to be intentional about that, you know, because you can just say, you know, you can think about past successes and you think your past successes are gonna feel and that that’s not going to happen. And that, that’s something. So I tell myself. I have to reinvent myself daily.
I mean, you’ve got to reinvent yourself. So what was good? You know, I’ve been doing this 25 years now, pastoring, it’s hard to believe what I did 25 years ago. That’s not gonna work today. So you have to constantly reinvent yourself. And my, my daughters, my wife and I, our daughters are very helpful with that.
They’ll be like, daddy. And they will be, I don’t want to say brutally, but [00:14:00] transparently honest, you know? And so that’s a help to me. I remember being in one church that I pastored and there was a music committee there, and the music committee was primarily composed of people within the same age group and people within that same age group who thought the same.
And so we added someone else who was a bit younger. On the music committee and they used to think, Oh, this person’s coming with all these crazy, outlandish ideas. And when I said, but guess what though, we may not do them, we need to hear them. So where we may be here and this person may be here, at least the conversation helps bring us here. Right? Yeah. And so I think it’s very important with your question that we understand with marketing, even with the way we present the message, if I go to a traditional audience, I need to have a shirt and tie. If I, if I’m not in a traditional audience, I need to be a bit more relaxed and maybe a polo shirt and what not. Um, in a traditional audience, it [00:15:00] might be lets preach and lets, you know, in a nontraditional, let’s be more conversational. Yeah. Right. So I think that’s very important.
Michelle Odinma: So I guess, how do you deal with people who have an issue with the principle of being all things to all men because they feel like they’re kind of selling out on their own moral beliefs and what they stand for. How do you address people like that?
Carlton Byrd: We have to help them understand that it’s not about them. Right. You know, it’s, you know, we’re trying to win people. And so in winning people for Christ, they’re going to be people that don’t think like us. Don’t look like us. There’s diversity of thought, diversity of opinion.
The main thing is we can’t compromise the word of God. So the message is the same, and I say this all the time, the message is the same, but the method must be different, right? And I have to challenge myself because if you’re not careful, you can get in that modality of,
Kendra Arsenault: Doing the same thing,
Michelle Odinma: Creatures of habit,
Carlton Byrd: The way we, right? This is the way we do it this way we’ve done it. God has blessed with the measure of success. And so it’s just gonna continue to happen. No. So I [00:16:00] challenge myself and so, um. No, we have to change up.
Kendra Arsenault: Yeah, and I think it’s an ethic that even in the secular world, you see this happening. Business models the way that they’re always having to keep up with the times, especially in our present generation, things are changing so fast and so for the church to feel exempt from that process where we really are going to miss a certain generation.
Carlton Byrd: You’re correct. I think one of the biggest things, if can get vulnerable here, one of the biggest things is with with me when I’m invited to lead an evangelistic series somewhere. The biggest thing is the, there’s always the expectation from, uh, the inviting organization or even the leaders of the organization that there’s going to be a quick fix, right?
Okay. The Carlton byrd is going to come here and we’re gonna get X number of people instantaneously, immediately. And I think what we have to be mindful in this culture and context in which we currently live, that it may take a little [00:17:00] bit more time. You know, it may take some time. So where we want instantaneous results because we feel we’re investing in this, and I understand that because rightfully so, if there’s going to be an economic investment major, you know, we’re going to expect a return on that investment. But I think we have to understand, particularly with the population, which we deal with today, that’s a process, and that may take longer. You know, so persons today, where years ago, let’s say 50 60 years ago, evangelists come in, they preach around four or five, six weeks, and there’s going to be this automatic flow of individuals coming in and, and responding to, yes, I want to be baptizing. Yes, I want to join church. That’s a little different today. And I think we have to be mindful of that. So when we do different things where it’s more conversational, where it’s more relaxed and decentralized, I think there has to be an understanding [00:18:00] that, we may not get the numeric results instantaneously. That we used to get traditional and or conventional evangelism. And I think we have to be prepared for that.
Kendra Arsenault: Wow. So take us a little bit through your own evangelistic journey. Okay. You know, like what has been some of the highlights, the challenges, uh, for somebody who is known in Paraguay, who may not know a Carlton Byrd.
Carlton Byrd: I would dare to say within this context, North American context, uh, we’re living in a highly secular world. Um, not only are we living in a very highly secular world, so, so I could elaborate on that, you know, but, you know, we’re, we’re living in a world today, um, 50 years ago, if a man and a woman live together and they weren’t married.
I don’t care what denomination you were in that was considered wrong Today, you know, [00:19:00] I’ll drive a car before I purchase it. And that’s, that’s not, you know, so, so just simply secular. So I think we have to be mindful that. The other thing that’s different today, um, there are so many distractions. You know.
There are so many distractions pulling people’s attention, um, that makes it more difficult. Uh, another thing today, you know, just the hustle and bustle of life, if I can say that, uh, you get up in the morning at 6:00 AM. Um, you’re getting breakfast ready, getting the kids off to school. 8:00 AM you’re at work, you’re there till five.
You pick up the kids from aftercare. Um, you then have to, you know, soccer here, basketball here, karate here, a panel here. Right? And then you’re saying, okay, come to the church for an extended period, two, three weeks for an evangelistic series of people. Just, I don’t have time. [00:20:00] Right? You know, pastor, I appreciate what you’re doing.
I support what you’re doing, but I just don’t have time. You want me to do all these things? Then get to the church at seven. We don’t get out till eight 30. By the time we get home, it’s nine 30 take showers, take baths, and we got to start all this over again. And you want us to do this for an extended period of time. I just think people’s accessibility and availability is very different than what it used to be. You’re dealing with, you know, if it’s a two parent home, you’re primarily today in order to live, you dealing with two wage earners. If it’s a single parent home, you’re trying to make ends meet with your family, with the kids and whatnot.
And so I think not only are you dealing with the secular, but you’re dealing with just the social, you’re dealing with time, you’re dealing with availability and accessibility, and it just makes it very, very, very difficult. So when you’re an evangelist and you’re saying come on out to the church, or come on out to the convention hall, whatnot.
People are like and then with technology today, and you’re always talk about [00:21:00] evangelists, it takes a crowd to build a crowd. People are like, wow, watch, on the internet, you know. And so then people are watching on the internet and you have more people who are viewing than persons who are actually seated in the venue where you’re conducting the evangelism. Uh, and so then people say, well, no one’s coming out. And you know, people get discouraged and you know, it’s, it’s, it’s tough.
Michelle Odinma: So how do you get around those obstacles in modern day evangelism?
Carlton Byrd: I think in Jesus name you have to press on, but I also think those things that aid in getting people to come out, you have to do. So you have to have a bonafide children’s ministries program. When I say bonafide, I’m not talking about babysitting. I’m talking about bonafide. I’m talking about manipulatives for them to do. I’m talking about audio visual. That’s off the charts. I’m talking about food.
Michelle Odinma: So that they want to
Carlton Byrd: they want to come. Uh, most recently, uh, in our [00:22:00] ministry at the Oakwood university church, we had a vacancy, our pastoral staff, and the priority for me was we’re going to get a full time children’s ministries pastor. We have to do this. We’re the same way. We’re in touch about planning, church worship, and church ministry.
We have someone that all they do is do that for children. Okay, so for evangelism, that’s one piece. Then, you know, I’ll be honest, that’s what you want.d, doctor, not that i would be dishonest but transparent. You know your music has to be on point. I mean, it has to be on point, you know? So you gotta be very intentional about that.
Your musicians, your singers, even if that requires remuneration for them, the day is over. We can just say, brother so-and-so, and sister so and so. We have to be intentional about that. And that means, you know, and I like remunerating them. And that’s biblical. The Levite’s. That’s Biblical. And I like that because there’s some sense of obligation that [00:23:00] they have and they have to be held accountable to, to provide the certain love.
Yes. Uh, with that, um,
Kendra Arsenault: And they can give you your best,
Carlton Byrd: Correct. I’ll invite, um, and I’ve taken some heat for this, but that’s okay. I’ve invited, you know, persons who are Christians, but they may not be of our faith, but they may be well known in the community. I’ve invited them to come sing. That is a sense of magnetic attraction for people within the community to come.
They come, they see the friendliness of the fellowship of the people. They hear this music. They hear the word of God, the children’s ministry is on point, and that is an enticement, if you will, for them to return.
Michelle Odinma: Yeah. Just to support that. The vast majority of people are listening to Christian music that’s from people of various denominations and faith. So to have them come and sing, I mean, that’s amazing.
Carlton Byrd: Exactly. I hear from people all the time, well, they’re not of our faith. [00:24:00] No, they love the Lord, you know, and maybe they will hear something and they’ll want to come back. And, you know, this is God’s work. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but, um, you know, we’ve got to, you gotta move forward. You know, I think that we have a lot of, uh, isolated. Yeah. I call it incestual ministry and the food,
Kendra Arsenault: Define that.
Carlton Byrd: Okay. Well, incestual, we want a minister to no one but ourselves. We preach to ourselves. We sing to ourselves, we teach to ourselves. We preach what we want, we teach what we want, we sing what we want. And so, we have incestual ministries and the fruit of incest is always something retarded. Right. So we are retarted churches because we care more about ourselves than reaching people for Christ. Growth is not well, I’m going to leave my Adventist church and I’m going to go to your Adventist church. All we’re doing is moving furniture.
[00:25:00] We’ve got to reach men, women, boys and girls for Jesus Christ. Amen. So we got to come out of our incestual ministry, come out of our isolated ministry and reach a greater world. Amen. For the Savior.
Michelle Odinma: Well, I think that just speaks to the mentality and the philosophy of what discipleship is and what the great commission means. And I think, for the most part where we’re not thinking in that line of reaching other people outside of who we currently see. Jesus’ current disciples. Right. And so I really appreciate that. I support that 120%.
Carlton Byrd: And I’ll be honest, there are a lot of constituencies to which we serve. Yeah. Okay. Our, our church members. Single adults. Our middle age. Our adults. Our young adults, our youth, our kids. But I just believe the greatest constituency that I serve will be those that if they don’t hear the gospel between now and Christ coming, are going to be lost. And there are [00:26:00] people who are daily going to Christ-less graves. Now, that does not mean that we shouldn’t minister to us. We have needs and whatnot, of course. But our greatest constituency and our greatest calling is to share the wonderful gospel with Jesus Christ. And you know, you asked your question earlier, Kendra, about my own evangelistic walk and whatnot, and I share with you the greatest joy is seeing people give their lives to Christ. And for me, that is my inreach. That is my fire. You asked and my, my fervor. I’m blessed by that. You know, and I, and I think that if we talk, you know, I get into conversations with people because people, you know, you have these musicians, you do some unconventional things. If we get back to our roots and our heritage as an Adventist faith, our pioneers, they were all about the gospel.
They were all about sharing the gospel and within their culture, within their context. [00:27:00] They did the best that they could at what they knew for their time, but they were about the gospel of Christ. And I think we got to get back to that. We have got to get back to Jesus Christ, the hope of glory and it’s. Ah, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s not a religion. It’s a relationship. It’s not solely a commandment is Christ. You say, if you love me, then you’ll keep my commandments. Right? So I want to see people fall in love with Christ. And when they do, that’s it. All these other things, they will come into place.
Kendra Arsenault: So what are some of the biggest challenges for you as you’re trying to be innovative as you’re trying to reach the community. What are some of the biggest challenges, maybe internally, but also externally as you’re moving forward?
Carlton Byrd: I think some of the biggest challenges, money, salvation is free, but ministry takes money. Amen. I think that we have got to prioritize the [00:28:00] sharing of the gospel and evangelism. I just preached a sermon. I won’t quote it here, but there are somethings ministerial functions, departments we have in our churches. That they just exist to perpetuate.
Michelle Odinma: Sure. Yeah. Just keeps the status,
Carlton Byrd: Their existence. Yeah. And I think we we need to take a hard look. Somethings literally, it needs to be earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. And we need to take a hard look at what is going to continue to make disciples for Jesus Christ. So I think one challenge is money. You gotta be able to fund it right. And that doesn’t mean that there are some things that we do as a faith group that are not important, but within our culture and context and current contemporary mill you, it just might be that something else is more important right now.
And so I think we’ve got to look at that, man. We’ve got, our message. Oh [00:29:00] my goodness. It’s wonderful. Of course. It is wonderful. I love my church. I mean, it is wonderful that the Jesus Christ, the salvation comes through him, that God loves us so much that he gave us his Sabbath rest. Amen. I mean, yeah, but we just got to share it.
But in sharing it, we need to share it in the best possible ways, and I think that comes with prioritizing our resources properly. That does, for me, that’s the main thing.
Kendra Arsenault: Wow. Do you have any like internal barriers when you’re like starting a new evangelistic initiative, whether it’s, you know, just a doubt that you go through or just maybe not having the energy or the time or feeling too stretched. What are some of the internal barriers that you tend to face?
Carlton Byrd: From a physical standpoint? I think with God, all things are possible. So you know I’d get charged. I’m just, you know, but, but you’re correct. For me internally, you’re stretched very thin. You don’t have enough [00:30:00] time. You will conquer the world, but you have to understand that you are not Superman, and I have to be reminded, I am not the Christ.
This is his work. But a part of you internally, you just want to. Do so much. Yeah.
Kendra Arsenault: The spirit is willing,
Carlton Byrd: The flesh, you know, it’s weak. You know, you just can’t do everything. Rome was not built in a day. So I’m
Kendra Arsenault: Being patient with yourself,
Carlton Byrd: To live and let live, you know? So that. That’s a challenge.
Michelle Odinma: I think another challenge that people may face is how to inspire and encourage members to partake and be a part of the mission. How do you get your members fired up to, to work with you?
Carlton Byrd: The greatest way? Okay. I guess you; I’m very energetic, I’m very let’s do it. Yeah. So I agree. I think the greatest way for me is modeling this behavior. So I’m not going to tell you just to do, I’m going to be in the trenches with you doing. So it’s not a matter have, as do as I say, not as I do. [00:31:00] It is a matter of let’s do this thing together. And so the great, you know, so hopefully someone will say, man, if, if he can get out there like this, then surely. Yeah. You know, I, I can get out there and I think we have to be mindful everything. Everyone can’t do everything. So I can’t expect that my senior adults can get out physically and knock on doors like I can, but there is something they can do.
You know, I’m, I’m, you know, I think I’m pretty average with technology, but I’m clearly not that information technologist. But let that information technologist do what they do and do it well, and then I can support in another way. We all have been given gifts, and so we have to use those gifts for God’s glory and understand what our gifts are.
Okay. And there’s a difference between, in my opinion, there is a difference between something you want to do and something you’re good at. Amen. Okay. Someone may want to sing, Hey, that’s not their [00:32:00] gift. So we have to understand, what we want to do versus what God has gifted us to do. Yes. Yes. So I think that’s important.
Michelle Odinma: So say on that same line, um, spiritually we want to help our members grow. And, um, if they’re not growing or if they’re they don’t have that connection to Christ, they’re less likely to participate in any of the, you know, action going on in church. So how do you lead them spiritually for their own personal walk with God?
Carlton Byrd: I think number one is very important that what we preach. Yeah, we help. So you know, you know, you can do this, you can be a part of this. And I so, I think. Through preaching number two, through teaching a prayer meeting series, a spiritual gifts inventory, you know, and then whatever you start, you gotta finish.
You know? So if you’re preaching this, it has to lead to something, you know, [00:33:00] can’t just sounding brass and tinkling cymbal. Amen. It has to lead to something. So I think it’s very important that through modeling, I said earlier, but preaching, teaching, and then giving people the opportunity to engage. Okay. So then after you preach, after you teach, all right, you all, let’s, let’s do this. What do you want to do? And I think we have to be very intentional about that. It does not just happen. It is not just happened by osmosis, if you will. You’ve got to give the people the opportunity. So the same way in evangelism where we will preach and we’ll teach.
And then we make the appeal for people to respond with our own members, to get them involved. Preach it. You teach it. Now you’ve got to appeal it to give them the opportunity to be involved and to respond.
Kendra Arsenault: That’s awesome. In the book that you had written on a, I don’t know if I have the good title correct, is it contextualizing evangelism in the 21st century?
Carlton Byrd: Contemporary evangelism for the 21st century.
Kendra Arsenault: So what are some key points in that book that you would want somebody to read and take away with
Carlton Byrd: That evangelism is not an event. [00:34:00] It’s a process and everything the church does, from January to December should center around evangelism. So that’s if you’re a Pathfinder, if you’re a Sabbath school superintendent, Sabbath school teacher, community service leader, everything we do should lead people to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
And in that book, I stress that. So, so it talks about evangelism, what God has blessed us with in years past to where we need to be today. And so the public evangelistic campaign is just the crowning act, but everything we do should lead, people should walk in our doors and they should know, and I’m gonna use the term is very familiar.
People should walk in our doors and know that there’s a certain level of secret sensitivity that is being promoted. Okay, so that’s children’s ministries. That’s to the usher, that’s to the greeter. That’s to the sound engineer. The sound engineer has to understand their role is important [00:35:00] because, if the gospel can’t be heard, you know?
So it’s just more than flipping on a mike. Okay. Every everything we do must lead people to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Okay. But you can’t experience what you’ve never had yourself.
Michelle Odinma: Exactly.
Carlton Byrd: You know what I’m saying? So that’s, that’s very, very important. I have visited some evangelical churches that are not necessarily in that height.
Yeah, I do a comparative analysis in the book, um, that aren’t necessarily of our faith, but you can look at their methods just with secret sensitivity, just with how they greet people, just how they track their visitors. And I talk about that in the book. Uh, we have the message, but if we would just employ some strategies and methods to compliment our message. I think if not for anything else, we’d have a [00:36:00] greater database of persons who would consider coming to our churches for, whether it’s a public evangelists campaign or a health initiative or whatever it is. Um. But I think in the book, I try to stress that it’s not an event. It’s a process and it doesn’t stop.
Kendra Arsenault: Wow. What’s,
Carlton Byrd: Doesn’t stop,
Kendra Arsenault: What’s one of the most, you know, how the Lord is using you, like, what’s one of the most, uh, effective evangelistic like initiatives that you’re really proud of today that you can look on and say like, Lord, I really saw you work. And this is, this is a model for how I want to move forward.
Carlton Byrd: Yeah. I mean, and I mean, I’m going to reference a public evangelistic campaign. Okay. Um, a couple of years back, we were running, conducting a breath of life was a campaign in Buffalo, New York. Okay. Our Adventist population was not strong at all. I mean, so I [00:37:00] was invited by the local conference to engage in a public evangelist to campaign, and I’ll be honest, uh, the, the facility had a seating capacity of about 1200 people and nightly because there weren’t many adventists in that city practicing.
We maybe had about 200 people coming nightly. A no great investment had been made financially. And I’m like, Lord, you know, and they was the Bible workers who are field workers were there five weeks before I came. I preach for three weeks. It was grueling because you know, when you’re putting a lot into it and you got huge facility and you’re looking at about 200 hundred people.
Yeah. And, um, we would look at the visitor registrations. Most of the persons in attendance were not Adventist persons. And, uh, yes, that was, that was encouraging. And, uh, because [00:38:00] most of the Adventists who were there were serving either with children’s ministries, as an usher, as a greeter. You know, on the sound, and I never will forget that final Friday evening we were going to culminate on that Sabbath, that final Friday evening, I made the appeal for baptism and I asked the people to walk down the aisle.
I’ve never experienced this in my life. I looked up the entire audience, Oh my Goodness, at least 80% of the people walk down to the front. Wow. That next day I think we baptized 115 people.
Kendra Arsenault: Wow. Amen.
Michelle Odinma: Of the about 200.
Carlton Byrd: I saw, it’s amazing, the Lord move. Cause you know, I’m all those three weeks I’m preaching. I’m like, how are you going to do this?
And I never will forget that night. It seemed like the entire audience walked down and [00:39:00] 115 people were baptized that next day. And I just, I just give God the glory and that affirmed in me. You do the right things for the right reasons. God will bless. Seek ye first the kingdom of God in his righteousness and all these things shall, not might, not perhaps shall definite guarantee. Be added unto you.
Kendra Arsenault: I love that. In in that effort, you know, and you’ve seen God work, what’s the one thing that you walked away with that you say, I want to apply this to the future? Is it just trusting in the Lord?
Carlton Byrd: Always in my mind, always in my mind, Kendra that of out of all the things God can’t do, he can’t fail. Yes. And we say that. You know, we preach that. We teach that, but it’s a cliche for us. Yeah. I saw it. Yeah. I saw it. Yeah. Out of all the things he can’t do, he can’t fail. That’s right. I saw it. I’ve seen it.
[00:40:00] Kendra Arsenault: Thanks so much for listening in. We are so excited to bring you the very best speakers this year as we provide resources to help you answer questions related to life and faith.
If you have suggestions for future episodes, please leave us a comment below. Once again, we’d like to thank our guest, Dr Carlton Byrd and the Adventist learning community for making this program possible. Stay tuned for next week as we continue our discussion on evangelism, church growth and retention.
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