To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Evangelists.

Earlier in the year we looked at how God gives gifts to the church. This month we look at the specific gift of the evangelist. In Ephesians 4:11 Paul says about the following being given as gifts to the church by the risen Christ. So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers. Apostles and prophets are foundation gifts we no longer have today. Ephesians 2:20a says about the church being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Accordingly, we no longer have apostles and prophets, they were foundation gifts, but we do have the ongoing gifts of evangelists and pastor/teachers.

Why are evangelists needed? In the midst of His ministry we read of our Saviour that When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matt. 9:36). Whereupon he did not say that we should pray for such people rather he said to his disciples. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field (Matt.9:38). We need evangelists and we should as a church be praying that God would raise up, provide and show us those gifted for such a ministry.

The saying goes that every church must evangelise or it will fossilize (i.e. die out). Evangelism is a critical part of church life. Naturally we should be wanting the gospel message, which has brought such incredible blessings in our own lives, to be told out to others. All of us have a responsibility to pray for, support and engage in evangelism. An awareness of the reality that still in late 2011 the vast majority of the population of Feltham are destined for an eternal hell should stir us to evangelism. We should ponder the words of our LORD that whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him (John 3:36b).

As God’s people we are called to serve God into such a situation and to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19a). Increasingly the nations are coming to Feltham and the most fundamental need is for all to find Christ as Saviour. We have that gospel which brings salvation; we have a responsibility to evangelize. However, we must emphasize that we are not all gifted to be evangelists. As we are not all pastor/teachers so we are not all evangelists. As Andy Paterson, FIEC Director of Mission, puts it, “the biblical pattern for most believers is to respond to the opportunities that arise when their distinctive, gracious, holy, intentional lives trigger questions from those among whom they live and work.” But there are evangelists that God gifts to the church.

What is an evangelist? The word means a messenger of good news. He is someone who declares the gospel. As pastor/teachers care for the flock so evangelists seek to “recruit” the flock. These men are supplied by God to the church and it seems appropriate that, like each local church needs pastor / teachers, so each local church needs evangelists. The calling of an evangelist to be with a church would mean:

  • that man would engage in evangelistic activities. He would seek to take out the good news. This would include potentially, door-door work, evangelistic courses like Christianity Explored, one-to-one Bible Study, Street / Open Air evangelism, arranging special events to seek to contact people with the gospel message. Specific work among children, among youth and/or among old people could be included in this. A lot of this depends upon the particular gifts of the person and also upon the opportunities that arise.

    It is important to note that an evangelist does not necessarily have gifts for public preaching. Many evangelists have done great work for God contacting individuals on the streets or through door to door work

  • He would also be used as someone to inspire us all to evangelism. This would be done through example and training. It is important to stress that we do not recruit an evangelist to do our evangelism, but rather to lead us all into our evangelism.

Identifying evangelists. It is also good to think about what criteria we use to assess whether someone is suitable to be an evangelist. The only person specifically named to be an evangelist, Philip (see Acts 21:8), was also part of the first group of deacons in Jerusalem (see Acts 6:1-6). It would seem reasonable then to conclude that we are looking for someone with the character qualities of a deacon (see qualifications listed in 1 Tim. 3:8-13), but specifically gifted in making known the gospel. So the person:

  • is worthy of respect.

  • careful in their speech.

  • sober-minded and “not in it for the money”.

  • sound in the faith.

  • tested as regards to their suitability for ministry. So their present church should be able to recommend them for the role of evangelist.

  • has their home life well-ordered.

  • has desires to reach people with the gospel and see them converted.

  • has relevant gifting to handle the bible and explain the gospel.

Overarching all this is the goal to see the church move forward to plant further churches. Evangelising is surely a key aspect of us moving forward as a fellowship. Moreover, as a nation, vast areas are devoid of gospel witness; We need evangelists. So let us seek God for His providing in this sphere of His Work.

Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church  newsletter of December 2011

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