God Centered Life Ministry Council member Rob Wolgemuth has written about seven habits of highly effective evangelists. Over the next week, we will share his article in eight parts, first by way of introduction, and then with the seven habits that he identifies.
In this article, I want to discuss the biographies of two men that have influenced me. Specifically, I want to provide a summary of seven characteristics or habits shared by the two men on whom the books are based.
The first book is Arnold Dallimore’s excellent biography of George Whitefield, George Whitefield: The life and times of the great evangelist of the 18th century revival, Vol. 1. Dallimore’s biography of the 18th century evangelist was painstakingly written over a number of years and finally published in 1970. It is a superb book, and incredibly thorough; it is perhaps the best written, most edifying biography I have read (and I’ve read a few).
The second book I want to recommend is much easier to digest than Dallimore’s lengthy tome on Whitefield, a book I found to be very encouraging and challenging to my faith: R.A. Torrey’s Why God Used D.L. Moody. I’ve read it several times, the first time when it was assigned as mandatory reading for a class I took while an undergrad at Wheaton College taught by Dr. Lyle Dorsett.
Aside from assigned and (later) personal reading (R.A. Torrey is my great-great grandfather), I also used the Torrey book as training material for a short term mission trip I helped lead a few years ago. It is ideally suited as training material because of its practical, clear, and straightforward presentation of the 19th century evangelist’s godly character, and showing the fruit that was so apparent in his life and his unmatched evangelistic zeal, which is exhilarating to read about. Both the Dallimore and the Torrey books are readable, and due to its small size, the latter book is digestible in just a few days’ time.
There is much to learn from the lives of these two godly men, but for the purposes of this article I want to focus on an interesting aspect the books share. That is, they both devote a fair amount of time to studying the character and habits of Mr. Whitefield and Mr. Moody. These two men could not have been more different in some ways. They were born more than 100 years apart; they emerged from very different socio-economic backgrounds (Whitefield was upper-middle class, Moody was from a poor background); they came from different countries (England vs USA); and they also had very different educational backgrounds (Whitefield was Oxford educated, Moody had a 5th grade education). And yet, it becomes apparent that there are striking similarities between the two: most importantly, their deep and faithful commitment to Jesus Christ and the corresponding habits that resulted from and (in a real sense) fed that intense commitment.
The habits of these two great evangelists are vitally important to understand, if we are to grasp how and why God used them both in such incredible ways. For all the ways they were different, they were also quite similar. Both men were perhaps the greatest preachers of their respective generations and both were participants and leaders in great movements of the Holy Spirit, including large numbers of conversions directly attributable to their preaching. In their lives we are able to see God move in an extraordinary way; each man though not perfect, remained humble and faithful to the Lord. I believe these 7 habits provide great insight into why Whitefield and Moody were such incredible “fruit-bearers” for their generations. Please join me in praying that everyone who sees this list might be challenged by the Spirit to go and do likewise.
Join us tomorrow at God Centered Life to read the first habit, and over the coming week to find all seven. You can sign up here to receive email notifications when new posts are published.