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When I'm speaking at conferences and events across the country, I'm often asked why so many ministries use the media. After all, it's a very expensive business. Couldn't we use that money for feeding the hungry or helping the homeless? Wouldn't Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, James Dobson (and even your local pastor) be better stewards if they spent God's money on more traditional evangelism?
All good questions. No one wants to waste financial resources or damage opportunities for reaching the lost. So, my first response to such queries is to study the life of Jesus.
How did He reach people? Where did He reach people? How did He make an impact on them? What can I learn from His life and ministry?
One of the highlights of my life is the time I put flowers on the grave of a man I had never met. I first heard this man's name—Samuel Zwemer—in the 1980s during a class at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the oldest and most prestigious Muslim university in the world, sometimes called the "brain of Islam."
My professor taught us that throughout history Christians had attempted to destroy Islam. He reminded us of the bloody battles Christians had waged against the Islamic world during the 200 years of the Crusades. He pointed out the Western colonialism that had been practiced from the late 1700s to the mid-1900s.
"Now Christians have a new strategy to defeat Islam," he added. This strategy was embodied in the name and picture I saw in my textbook: that of Samuel Zwemer.
Individual Christians have played extraordinary roles in the spread of the gospel.
Early in my Christian walk (which began more than three decades ago), I recall hearing the phrase, "One plus God is a majority." The idea behind this was that Christians should never be discouraged by numerical or other odds ranged against them because, with God, not only are all things possible, but also ordinary worldly reckonings of who will or won't succeed are often overturned.
Later, as some prominent figures in the charismatic movement began behaving in odd ways, Christian teaching began to focus once more—correctly—on the need for both general laity and leaders to be accountable to oversight through a pastor or some sort of board of elders.