Moderator's Comments - Posted 18 May 2016
Chappo died at age 82 in November, 2012. He was a friend to many, an excellent preacher, an able theologian, but first and foremost, he was a fine evangelist.
In 1969, John became the Director of the Anglican Department of Evangelism in Sydney. This was universally known as the 'Department of Evangelism', for though it was generously funded by our Anglican brethren, it belonged to us all.
Chappo was the evangelist to all who invited him, he was not limited to Anglicans, or to Sydney, he preached across Australia and was as well known in London and Capetown as he was in Sydney.
As an evangelist John was crystal clear in presenting the Gospel, but was never wedded to just one method of presentation. In 1978, he conducted a Parish mission for me in Wee Waa centred around Dialogue Evangelism meetings. These were apologetics presentations in homes over coffee. In 1986, in my last parish, he conducted a two week outreach to the inner west of Sydney, centred on large rally type meetings at the newly built, Ashfield Town Hall.
I am missing Chappo, especially at the moment, because I am assembling a Panel of Evangelists to lead our denominational campaign, 'Taking God Seriously', reaching out to the nation to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.
All the evangelists on the Panel would appreciate his advice and input, and I know he would readily offer it.
Where are the evangelists today? Where are those who are gifted to present the Gospel in a winsome, faithful and clear way? Where are those who eschew manipulation and compromise, and, who, in a God dependant way, press home the claims of Christ I am thankful we have some, but we need many more.
I offer three insights about evangelism and evangelists. I think Chappo would agree with them.
- Be wary of preaching 'felt' needs as though these are our greatest needs. Our greatest need is that when we stand before God, we stand in Christ. Our self-image, achievements and general well-being will mean nothing without Him. Evangelism is not ultimately about the preacher or the listener, it is Jesus who is to be prominent, preach Him and He will draw people to Himself. Remember, Chappo would say, 'The power of God is in the gospel. Make sure you preach it clearly.'
- Church planting is not necessarily synonymous with evangelism. Evangelism goes on in church plants, but transfer growth may also take place and that is not the same as reaching the lost. Like all churches, church plants need to be determinedly evangelistic.
Church planters need to be pastor/teachers and they may not necessarily be evangelists. Church plants are healthy provided we are actually making incursions into enemy occupied territory. Don't think that by church planting we are necessarily doing evangelism. We may be just moving people from one church home to a different church home.
- Filling a character profile, a demographic stereotype, doesn't make an evangelist.
Think of the evangelists you have known. Chappo filled no usual profile. Frank Jenner of George St, sure was quaint.
We may or may not have the looks, the marital status, nor the cool style, but remember, God chooses to use 'mere jars of clay'. So donít be discouraged by your lack of so called profile. The vital attributes for an evangelist are: Does this person have a passion to tell people about Jesus and does this person have the capacity to introduce people to assurance of salvation? Such people have the gift of evangelism which God gives! Remember it is not about you, for it is Jesus who is to be prominent.
May God continue to raise up faithful, influential evangelists, just like him!