Is Every Believer an Evangelist?

According to scripture, not every believer is an Evangelist or given the gift of Evangelism!

Does that sound funny? Check it out in one of Paul’s great passages on how humanity’s Adoption into the Trinity works out in the Church:

The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. ~ Ephesians 4:11

Did you notice that little word “some” mentioned 4 times in verse 11?

This passage is highly educational to us in how the Trinity works in and among the Church in the Communion of His Spirit. He works in and through us as He really is; unified AND with distinction! It can also provide great insight to the Church on how leadership in the Church should be empowering people to function according to their gift/s (in obedience to the Holy Spirit) and not according to simply fads, traditions and programs (which may lead to disobeying the Holy Spirit, or at the very least resisting Him!)

In one of the greatest research projects conducted in the church of our day, Christian Schwartz of Natural Church Development disproved the commonly held myth in the Church that “every Christian is an evangelist.” No wonder so many of our programs on evangelism are not working!! Let me be quick to say that Christian’s research does admit that there is a “kernel of truth” in the thesis that “every Christian is an evangelist”, but only in the sense that it is the responsibility of every believer to use his or her specific gift/s in fulfilling the Great Commission. This does not, however, make him or her an evangelist. (Matt 28:19, 20.)

As he states more specifically in his book entitled, Natural Church Development , on p.34, under the heading “Need-oriented Evangelism”:

Evangelists are only those to whom God has given the corresponding spiritual gift. In one of our previous studies, we confirmed C. Peter Wagner’s thesis that the gift of evangelism applies to no more than 10 percent of all Christians. We must distinguish between Christians gifted for evangelism and those whom God has otherwise called. If indeed ‘all Christians are evangelists,’ then there is no need to discover the 10% who really do possess this gift. In this way, the 10 percent with the gift of evangelism would be significantly under-challenged, while the demands on the 90% without the gift would be too great… This is rather frustrating… Our research shows that in churches with a high quality index, the leadership knows who has the gift of evangelism and directs them to a corresponding area of ministry.

Wowsa! Could research exposing the myth that “All Believers are Evangelists” explain why so many of our churches are fatigued and worn out by programs and pressures for everyone in the church to be an evangelist?

I think so! My personal experience as a pastor, along with countless conversations with other pastors and members of the church, affirms the truth of this research to me! I can “feel it in my spirit” as they say! Ha-Ha!

I’ll conclude this post with another quote from the same chapter and book, and some final and interesting information from Christian Schwartz on the subject. See if you can spot the Trinitarian and RELATIONAL nature of his comments in the last paragraph (He is VERY Trinitarian in the foundations of his research, by the way!! Meaning, the Trinity is THE lens through which we observe, evaluate and experience all of life!):

It is the task of each Christian to use his or her gifts to serve non-Christians with whom one has a personal relationship, to see to it that they hear the gospel, and to encourage contact with the local church. The key to church growth is for the local congregation to focus its evangelistic efforts on the questions and needs of non-Christians. This “need-oriented” approach is different from “manipulative programs” where pressure on non-Christians must compensate for the lack of need orientation.

It is particularly interesting to note that Christians in both growing and declining churches have exactly the same number of contacts with non-Christians (an average of 8.5 contacts). Challenging Christians to build new friendships with non-Christians is certainly not a growth principle. The point is rather to use already existing relationships as contacts for evangelism. In each of the churches we surveyed – including those that lamented having little or no contact with “the world” – THE NUMBER OF CONTACTS OUTSIDE THE CHURCH WAS ALREADY LARGE ENOUGH SO THAT THERE WAS NO NEED TO EMPHASIZE DEVELOPING NEW RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE UNCHURCHED.” (Capital letters and underline mine! Ha-Ha!)

Christian Schwartz has gone to meddlin’ now! And hopefully he is meddlin’ with each of us so bad that we’ll get back to rethinking the more natural, relational, and distinct characteristics of evangelism that flow from being baptized in the Assurance of Humanity’s Adoption into the Life of the Trinity in Jesus, wholly by God’s grace!

P.S. By the way, science and research are included in the life of the Trinity, too! Ha-Ha!

~ by Timothy Brassell

5 comments so far

  1. Bill on

    Hello,

    It doesn’t seem to me like an evangelist, as described in Eph. 4:11, is really talking about a gift of evangelism. It is a job at a church, much like a pastor. 1 Corinthians 12-14 lists spiritual gifts, and evangelism isn’t on the list.

    Whatever the job entails, it is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” That doesn’t sound like someone whose job it is to go out and serve non-Christians by explaining the gospel to them.

    I don’t think the Bible gives a job description for an evangelist, but I would say it would involve preparing the saints to present the gospel, and leading the evangelistic efforts of the church.

    I don’t think that since there would probably be only one guy at a church whose job title is evangelist dismisses anyone else from proclaiming the gospel.

    What do you think?

    Thanks,
    Bill

    • tjbrassell on

      Hello Bill! Thanks for your thoughtful response! I think that Ephesians 4 is describing a specific gift of evangelism, as well as specific gifts of pastor/teacher, apostle etc . That being said, I do agree with the spirit of your comments that we do not have to be too specific or too general in how each of us may be used of the Holy Spirit to participate in the proclamation of the Good News.

      I think you bring up a good point about Evangelists evangelizing the Church and making sure they are baptized in the Good News! 🙂 I think that would lead to believers being passionate about proclaiming the Good News through their unique gift-orientation and ministry in Jesus!

      I also believe, as the article states, that we are unduly pressured by myths in the Church with regard to evangelism and are putting a clamp on what would happen more naturally through everyone, in God’s grace, if we embraced and acted out of the Gospel more!

      Thanks, Peace and Blessings!

  2. Paul Kurts on

    I feel the urge to comment here. I think I agree with both Bill and Tim here, however, I think that God gifts certain individuals in areas such as evangelism, in prayer for others, etc , which are not listed, nor are they in the “spiritual gifts” list in other passages.

    Certain athletes are ‘gifted’ by God to perform at the level they do. Some singers, some musicians, some writers, the list could go long, are ‘gifted’ by God to do what they do.

    SPIRITUAL GIFTS are a direct action of Jesus Christ living in a person and are expressions of His life and love and mind flowing in and through the person. I argue that ALL Christians have within themselves–through Jesus– all of the Spiritual gifts of God. Jesus just calls them forth and out of the individual for His purpose at any time He chooses.

    So I see a difference in gifts and SPIRITUAL GIFTS in this manner I have described. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    blessings to all,

    Pastor Paul ( Daddy Kurts )
    Madison, ALabama

  3. tjbrassell on

    Thanks for your comments Daddy Kurts. I’ll address what I personally believe in order of your comments.

    I, too, believe that the way the Trinity works in us is far broader than the gifts mentioned specifically in the spiritual gift lists in the bible, but that those lists give us our best guide on how Christ works in us in the Church.

    I understand what you mean by everyone having every spiritual gift because everyone has Jesus (Who is Himself our gift), but I think that needs more clarity and would put it this way: Every one is in union with Christ and he can work in each of us through the Spirit how and whenever he wants, but he has chosen to live in each of us differently, as he sees fit (1 Cor 12:7-11!), dignifying our distinction as well as our union. This seems to be what the Apostles are saying.

    If we are truly made in the image of God, and patterned after Jesus (the only REAL human being), then we are not Jesus and he is not us. And we are not our neighbor, and our neighbor is not us. God the Trinity, in Jesus, has made room for each of us and for our distinction in His life. By living in each of us differently and according to our distinction is to live in us as God really is. Each of us really matters (apart from and with others) and brings a distinct, unique, and special participation, in Jesus, to the table.

    I believe God the Trinity could live in all of us in the exact same way in our union with him in Jesus, but has chosen not to. I think this is what the teaching on gift/s is helping us to see, know and experience. As created beings I believe there is always a Trinitarian sense of dependence, independence, and interdependence that must be held together and that truly respects our union and distinction. This also keeps us from Pantheism, on the one hand, and individualism on the other!

    I don’t consider this so much a correction to your thoughts, but more of an elaboration on my own thoughts in my ever growing experience and understanding of the God/Man Jesus as I participate with him in pastoring His Church.

  4. Paul Kurts on

    Yes, Thank you Holy Spirit for more clarity. In reading what you are saying here, Tim, is what I was saying but not as clearly as you have here. IT is all still AMAZING to me to realize we all are participating in all of this whether we know it or not.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: