Archive for the ‘Natural Church Development’ Tag

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

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