“I don’t really share the gospel with my friends because, you know, I just don’t have the gift of evangelism.”
Sorry, but there is no such thing in the Bible as the Spiritual gift of evangelism. There is, in Eph. 4:11, a spiritual gift of Evangelist — but that’s not the same thing as the gift of evangelism. Stick with me…
According to Ephesians 4:11-14, the gifts of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd, and Teacher (APEST) are given to the whole church for the purpose of helping us all to reach maturity in our faith. So, how would a Spiritually-gifted evangelist equip fellow believers for Christian maturity? One answer is that he/she would show them how to excel in their witness and in sharing the good news about Jesus with their friends.
The Spiritual gift of Evangelist is given to equip the saints to do evangelism. That means that evangelism, rather than being a spiritual gift, is actually a point of Christian maturity. What does that imply? I think it implies that spiritually immature Christians don’t share their faith — or more strongly, if I don’t evangelize, I evidence my own spiritual immaturity. This is not the same thing as saying “young Christians don’t share their faith.” No. They tend to be most zealous to do it! There is another kind of immaturity. Interestingly, many believers who have grown out of their early zeal tend to fall into it. The kind of immaturity I’m referencing is that kind that traces back to the eventual pursuit of a primarily “personal” brand of spirituality, and lack of true concern for the world that does not know Jesus in favor of living in a christianized bubble. If this describes me, it is not because I don’t have a Spiritual gift. It’s because I am under-developed and need to grow up in this area.
If evangelists to whom evangelism comes naturally (as evidenced in their natural, relational connections with not-yet believers who come closer to becoming believers and disciples) are given to us, we need to change the way we see and relate to them. Instead of thinking of evangelism as “their job,” we need to spend more time with them. We need to watch how they relate to others, and learn from them while in motion. Watch how they view people, how they treat people who are not yet believers. Observe how they listen to people and stay sensitive to the Spirit of God to know how to respond. Let’s be honest: Most of what we learn to do as believers is learned my mentoring and modeling. I have learned to do lots of things — including learning to share my faith by watching evangelists do it. They have learned how to naturally share their faith; we need to get over our fear of asking them to help us look for ways to be more effective in our responsibility to evangelize — since it’s not a gift, but is rather a point of maturity.
But doesn’t the person who is gifted as an evangelist have the gift of evangelism? According to Scripture, no. No passage in scripture mentions a “gift of evangelism.” Evangelists have what everyone who is a Christian has — which is the call to share the good news about Jesus with the lost. We are all ambassadors, missionaries, and message-bringers, but we don’t all know how to do it (which is more accurate and honest than saying “I don’t have the gift”). Additionally, they are gifted to equip the rest of us to do it, and they have more passion for evangelism than many of us do. That’s different from making evangelism a gift that I can say I don’t have — letting myself off the hook from growing in my faith.
You may not be an evangelist, but you are still called to evangelize, along with every other believer in the world. You have the message, but maybe you just don’t know how to think about it in ways that make you more effective. You need an evangelist to help you grow up and learn to share the good news. That’s his/her gift, given to the church to help you fulfill your calling and reach maturity.
Other ideas? Share them below…