FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 16, number 50, December 14, 2017
“Do the work of an evangelist.” -2 Timothy 4:5
Why Churches Should Call an Evangelist for Their Next Staff Position
In my many travels around Presbyterian and Reformed Churches in the United States, one thing is now very clear to me-I almost never see an evangelist on the staff of these churches. To be sure, on rare occasion the Senior Pastor is an evangelist and thus is able to imprint an evangelistic culture on that particular congregation. However most of the time the pastor is a good preacher, teacher, or theologian who loves to preach expository sermons which build up the saints. He also may be a very good counselor or trainer of men for ministry. This phenomenon is perhaps due to our emphasis on well trained and educated men for pastoral ministry. We attract men who love to study, preach, and shepherd the flock of God. We also tend to attract people to our churches who love solid, Reformed, expository sermons. Our people want the word of God to build them and their families up to gospel holiness, and this, of course, is a very good thing.
To go further, since the bent or direction of our ministries is toward teaching, when we are filling a secondary or tertiary role in the church we almost never ask the question, “Should we maybe call a full time evangelist to the staff of our church?”
Now most of our churches know they should be more fervent and direct in evangelistic outreach and the pastors also know they are commanded by Paul the apostle to do the work of an evangelist, but this seldom translates into consistent, evangelistic ministry. Most pastors are pretty covered up with work and finding the time for a vibrant, consistent, evangelistic ministry keeps being pushed to back burner status. Sooner or later pastors and elders feel guilty about their paltry evangelistic efforts and promise to do better next year by having a conference on evangelism, to preach a few sermons on evangelism, or to train their people in how to share the gospel. In most cases, however, this seldom translates into an active, growing, life-changing evangelistic ministry.
So, I wish to make the case for the elders of the church to call an evangelist to their next staff position hire. Here are three reasons to do so. First, we need balanced ministries with our ministry gifts and resources equally distributed among evangelism, building up the saints, and caring for the poor and needy in our congregations and communities. As I have noted several times before, a church heavy on teaching but weak on evangelism or mercy ministry is a sterile church. We seldom produce new believers nor do we attract the unwashed people (gang bangers, drug dealers, prostitutes, white collar criminals, or con artists) to our churches. A church heavy on evangelism, however, without a balance of solid teaching and mercy ministry, will be a shallow church. We can bring them in but they leave sooner than later because they are not growing in the faith. And a church which is heavy on mercy ministry to the poor and needy, but weak on evangelism or teaching will be a social gospel church. The heart of compassion is not checked by the necessity of evangelism and teaching on how to live as Christians. So, if our churches are weak in evangelism then we need to find a way to shore up that weakness. Call an evangelist for your next staff hire.
Second, we need gifted men to lead all three of these vital ministry areas in our churches. You have pastors, assistant pastors, and perhaps youth ministers who are good teachers. Why would you not consider the need for an evangelist to focus on evangelistic outreach, and when possible, to hire someone to focus on mercy ministry needs? I am simply after balance on the church staff, flowing out to the congregation in the distribution of time, manpower, and ministry expenditures.
And third, we need gifted men who are directed to devote their entire ministry time to evangelistic outreach. This will take on many different forms. The key, however, is that his time is not taken up with pastoral care, counseling, or chairing committees on the general ministries of the church. Instead, he spends his days out in the community. He will evangelize daily. He will go door to door in the community, perhaps in a three mile radius of the church. He will meet men for lunch, breakfast, or coffee whom he has met who are showing interest in the gospel. He will meet with them for several consecutive weeks, answering their questions, pointing them to the Savior. He will conduct evangelistic, discovery Bible Studies with singles or married couples. He also ought to engage regularly in open air preaching in his community at sporting events or on the local college campus. His model is Paul the apostle and the Lord Jesus. They were always going, going, going daily into the surrounding communities. The church should also revive the Sunday night service if you have jettisoned it, and devote it to evangelistic preaching and let the evangelist do the preaching. And if the church still has a Sunday night service, then change the focus from building up the saints to proclaiming Christ to the lost whom he has met in preceding weeks and the lost whom the congregation, due to the enhanced evangelistic culture in the church, have met and are willing to invite and bring to church for the service. He will not engage in this work alone. He will find people in the congregation who have a latent evangelistic gift which is fanned into flame by his evangelistic fire.
Consequently, a growing cadre of evangelists will become part of the local church which will give the ministry a much needed balance. One could actually say that evangelism is the easiest of the gifts to deploy. The evangelist is like an obstetrician. While training and skill are vital, once the obstetrician has done his work (delivered the baby), then he moves on to the next expectant mother, while the pediatrician begins the long process of caring for the child for many years. The evangelist is like the obstetrician and the pastor is like the pediatrician.
So, just as the pastor and elders are to equip the saints for the work of service, to build up the body of Christ, so the evangelist is to recruit, train, and deploy a growing army of evangelists whom God has gifted to share Jesus with people. Yes, we all are to evangelize daily, but let’s face it, most of us are not gifted to do so, and we rarely do it.
Balance, balance, balance. That is what I am after. Pastor, elder, give this some serious thought. Are you looking to fill a new staff position? Look outside the box. Call an evangelist. He will change the culture of your church and give your teachers a whole new group of people to build up in how to live as Christians in the family, community, and work place.
I know what you are thinking – “Okay, that sounds good, but where do we find these evangelists?” I will take up that question next week.