SHERWOOD – “Revival is not rocket science; it’s God’s people being obedient to His commands,” vocational evangelist Ed Newton told attendees at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention 2013 State Conference on Evangelism and Church Growth.
Newton grew up in poverty, the son of two deaf parents, and was radically saved in high school before deciding to enter the ministry full-time. Newton now travels all over the world preaching the gospel, often 200 days a year. He resides in Lakeland, Tenn., near Memphis, with his wife, Stephanie, and four children.
A self-professed “expository preacher,” much of Newton’s message came from Chapters 1-2 of the Book of Haggai, and he addressed topics such as persecution, worship, obedience and the state of today’s churches and Christians.
Newton said many churches must deal with the style of their worship services today. He said many believers’ issues with music styles or their generational differences have less to do with a need to defend truth, and more to do with a lack of humility and a surplus of pride and disobedience.
“The one reason you and I were created is to worship,” said Newton. “Worship is not the problem; it’s the object of our worship that is the problem.”
Newton said many believers put their own agendas before that of God.
“If we take the blessings of God and use them to build our own sandcastles, they will not last,” he said.
“Every movement of God will face persecution,” he said. “Jesus said, ‘If they hate Me, they will hate you.’ We need more people to stop seeking being popular and start seeking being a prophet.”
Newton cautioned the crowd and encouraged them to ask themselves, “Do I find myself doing a lot of things for God or a lot of things with God?”
Newton said there are many times when believers are so diligent to serve God that they become disobedient to His commands.
“God spoke to the nation of Israel and said, ‘I am tired of your singing,’ because He was wanting obedience, not just sacrifice,” said Newton.
Newton told the audience that he is not used to preaching to a crowd full of adults – as he usually speaks to youth and college students.
He said he believes that younger generations have forfeited truth in an attempt to flee tradition and “the old way of doing things.”
“To my elders, I want to apologize for my generation. We stand on your shoulders,” he said.
Newton said that all generations must work together. He said there are culprits both young and old who have been disobedient to the Lord’s commands by dwelling on their personal opinions of what ‘worship’ should look like while forgetting its purpose and importance.
“If you can’t worship, it’s not the style of music. It’s your heart,” he said.
Newton said there is just something about having believers of all different ages and stages of life worshipping and growing alongside one another in a unified body.
Church planting is absolutely “necessary,” he said, but he added that one of the biggest problems today is the compartmentalization of new church plants – many catering to only one age group or demographic.
Newton said he is a strong supporter of “multigenerational church planting” – church plants that seek to build diverse bodies of believers who share life together and disciple one another.
“Stay close in a walk with Him. Choose to fight for holiness. Serve as a prophet who speaks truth ... in love, earning the right to be heard, walking with your people and confront complacency,” said Newton, summing up the points of his sermon from Haggai.
Newton pleaded with those in attendance to take the following to heart: “May I not seek You (God) looking for the prize, but know that You are the prize.”