Three Reasons Why We Need Evangelists

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Bert Perry's picture

A look at Baker's writings does reveal that he is not the complete stereotype of the evangelist, the guy with three to five sermons he preaches at every revival he goes to in his RV.  So that is refreshing.  He also at least says the true evangelist ought to be doing out onto the streets soul-winning while training people to do home Bible studies.

Which is, really, a lot of the equipping of the saints that Paul refers to in Ephesians 4:12, and to be fair, that is partially given to evangelists, but also to apostles, prophets, pastors, and teachers.  So that does not point directly to evangelists.  We then go to his three reasons; that people do not like to evangelize, that preachers don't preach the hard topics, and that preachers really don't preach the hard topics when it comes to evangelism.

In a nutshell, what he's saying is that since too many pastors are not doing their jobs, let's create a new category to do it for them.  It's really the same logic that has given government something like 63 levels of management.  So count me....unconvinced.  Philip the Evangelist was first a deacon; Timothy, a pastor, was also told to do the work of an evangelist.  Hence I am unconvinced that this would be a unique office for today's church.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I am not convinced there is a separate office of "evangelist." I think of the the main jobs of a pastor is to inspire, train and equip saints to do evangelism in a corporate context (e.g. church evangelistic events) and a personal context (e.g. at lunch with a co-worker). If you can't train and equip people to do this, in some form or fashion, then you're failing in one of your core competencies as a pastor.

I know this is hard, but I'm convinced there's no other way to slice it. I'm certainly not God's gift to evangelism, but in my own pathetic way, I try. I'm not certain many Christians ever try at all; partially because they've not been trained, but also because they just don't care enough to try.  

However, I also believe there are only so many things one guy has time to do well, and it's largely impossible for one guy to fulfill all the pastoral duties for a congregation, all by himself, in a competent fashion. Hence, the need for two (or more) pastors per congregation, just like the Book of Acts shows us . . . Maybe pastor #1 and pastor #2 rotate Sunday School and main worship teaching responsibilities, while #1 focuses on evangelism and #2 focuses on the youth, etc. Divide responsibilities.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Paul Henebury's picture

I too am not sure if there is an office of Evangelist, but I am sure that there is a gifting of evangelism.  In the years I did street-preaching in city's in the UK I came across people who could talk to unbelievers I had just gotten nowhere with and get them to listen.  I don't think there are many of these folks around, and I am not saying that this absolves others from evangelizing either.  

It's not rocket science to tell a person, in the right context, why you are a Christian and to give them the Gospel.  That is what we can do.  We can invite unbelievers over for dinner or whatever.  In the workplace is an excellent opportunity to witness; not perhaps unreservedly, but let people know what you are.  Nail your colors to the mast and be different - in a good way.  

If anyone knows how to witness to the lost in our culture in a simple straightforward manner other than this please let me know.  Really.

As to Tyler's dual pastors model, that's great so long as one can find such men.  Many churches don't even have one decent pastor.    

Dr. Paul Henebury

I am Founder of Telos Ministries, and Senior Pastor at Agape Bible Church in N. Ca.

Bert Perry's picture

I figure it might be fun, or maybe even edifying, to contemplate why a vocational evangelist might be willing to say things straight when a resident pastor would not.  The first is simply that resident pastors all too often waffle under pressure.  Now is that solved with a new office (another layer of management, really), or be asking ourselves why we're choosing soft men?  Are we picking leaders, or guys who will go along with the dominant personalities of the church?

Put gently, if our pastoral selection process is flawed, using the same process to choose an itinerant evangelist solves precisely zero problems while creating a few more.

Possibility #2 is that the evangelist feels free to offend people because he won't be there next week, and that opens a whole new can of worms.  For starters, if he's only going to be there for a week or two, the odds of long term transformation are pretty much nil, and while he's there, he's likely to be partially judging his success based on who he offends.  There are all kinds of issues that arise there.

So Baker's got a huge pile of trouble in that what he's writing is very compatible with the old stereotype of the guy in a battered Winnebago stomping his way around podiums across the country, preaching the same five sermons over and over again, and leaving a huge pile of spiritual wreckage behind.   A church I attended in Waseca had a couple of those guys by, and I remember while teaching children's church downstairs people asking "what was THAT?" as the guys (one of whom was named Winegar I believe) coming came to the minimum nadir of their presentations.

Many things happened due to those guys; real conversions and spiritual growth were not among them, sad to say.  I won't completely preclude the notion of a valuable ministry of evangelism, even an itinerant one, but experience does not suggest that great things are likely to be forthcoming unless some stringent controls are exercised on the evangelist.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture

Editor

You're right about how we just need to tell people the Gospel. We need to be contextually sensitive, but we basically need to develop relationships with an aim to evangelism.

As to the lack of trained men available, I think many churches could identify one man from within the congregation who could be trained from the ground up at a good, unaccredited, relatively inexpensive institution (like yours!). I don't think many churches will be able to attract a trained man looking for fulltime ministry employment. However, I do think most churches could produce their own associate pastors and provide training through online/virtual education and practical mentoring.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Ron Bean's picture

I think if we'd take a poll among our church members as to how they came to Christ we'd find the vast majority were led by a family member or friend. The next group would be those who were introduced to the Gospel by a faithful pastor. Sure, there are some who were saved under the preaching of an itinerant evangelist, but when we look at the numbers we realize that the most effective evangelists should be our church members. I favor training our people in personal evangelism and that God would give them a burden for their friends and family members who are in danger of damnation. 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Ron Bean's picture

Many years ago when I was young in age and in faith I spent some time conducting evangelistic meetings in small churches in the north and south. The sermons were typical Gospel centered appeals. (I had some great invitation illustrations and stories I used to employ.) In God's Providence I also conducted a SS class on personal evangelism and started taking a poll similar to what I referred to in my OP. I also took the poll when I became a pastor. My conclusion was that the people in the pew were the best evangelists. It also seemed that some pastors liked itinerant evangelists because they could supposedly be bolder in their preaching (and the pastor could always apologize if the preaching was too pointed) and that people in the pew preferred to delegate their evangelistic responsibility to others.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan