In both evangelical and charismatic circles, the age of the superstar, one-man-show evangelist is now fading away. Legendary preachers like Dr. Billy Graham, T. L. Osborn, and Reinhard Bonnke have either retired, gone home to the Lord, or nearing retirement. And it appears the Lord is not raising up successors to take their place to minister on the same global scale as these giants.
The reasons for this are varied. But perhaps the primary one is the fact that these luminaries by themselves have failed to preach the gospel to every creature and fulfill the Great Commission. They were never meant to. Jesus Christ gave the Great Commission to all his disciples, not only to an elite group of apostles and evangelists. The job of an apostle or an evangelist (or of the three other remaining offices for that matter) is to equip God’s people for works of service.
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
Servants of God should be reproducing themselves by equipping God’s people—the body of Christ—to minister as God has used them. Proven apostles and evangelists therefore should be training God’s people to preach the gospel and make disciples. Only when the entire body of Christ is equipped and mobilized will the Great Commission be fulfilled. Unfortunately because of the teaching of the Nicolaitans which Jesus hated (Revelation 2:6 &15), the Church has been divided into professional clergy and lay people. The burden of ministry is placed upon the professional clergy while the lay people sit comfortably in the pews with their tithes and offerings in hand ready to be sown.
The consequence of this and other factors is the condition of the world as we see it today. The resurgence of Islam which claims 1.6 billion souls during these last days is nothing less than terrifying. It should be a sign to the Church. It is now time to equip every disciple on earth to preach the gospel as Jesus did and as He taught and commanded his disciples 2,000 years ago.
When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. …So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere. (Luke 9:1, 2, 6)
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. …Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ (Luke 10:1, 9)
There is every reason to believe that these seventy-two disciples back then who represent the Lord’s disciples around the world today continued to heal the sick and proclaim the kingdom of God during the period of Acts just as it is clearly recorded that the apostles did. Why should the seventy-two disciples have stopped obeying the Lord’s command in Luke 10:9 after the day of Pentecost? Disciples today should be following in the footsteps of the seventy-two. But they have not been taught or trained to do so.
The Elijah Challenge is called to train the Lord’s disciples around the world to proclaim the kingdom of God as Christ commanded above—toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission before the great and terrible day of the Lord.