How is your church’s health?
Is your church healthy? You may have a thriving youth ministry and a thousand plus in attendance on Sunday. However, for this article I want your health report to be measured by your training, equipping, and sending of the Evangelist. The role of the Evangelist in the history of the church has been vital to any season of revival that we have seen. I think. Wait… I know that the church has neglected this sacred role and because of this neglect, the church is suffering the consequences. In this third article, I want to propose that we revisit the role of evangelists and the importance of seeking, training, and sending them into the world for the benefit of the church and the glory of God.
It’s good for the Church to do self-examination in order to see if it is being pushed off course by cultural pressures. We are being pressed on every side by the moral revolution that is taking place in our nation. Many churches look more like a popular country club than a Bible believing group of redeemed sinners. As we look in the rear view mirror of Christian history, the Church has always had its evangelists heralding the Word of God. Men like John the Baptist, Jesus, Paul, Phillip, George Whitefield, John Bunyan and Charles Spurgeon. However, over the course of the past century, we have seen a downturn in the role of the Evangelist and the open air proclamation of the Gospel. Let’s first tackle the issue of where the Evangelist is found in scripture?
Where is the Evangelist found in the Bible?
We see the word evangelist mentioned in the Bible three times: 2 Timothy 4:5, Ephesians 4:11, and Acts 21:8-9
κηρύσσω kērýssō, kay-roos’-so; of uncertain affinity; to herald (as a public crier), especially divine truth (the Gospel):—preacher(-er), proclaim, publish.
The word Evangelist is found just three times; however, Kerysso occurs 62 times in 60 verses. The scriptures are littered with this word. We need heralds to announce with the trump of a voice in the public square “the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. An evangelist is someone who can push back the fears and either herald the Word of God in the open air or have one-on-one conversations with someone of different beliefs. They cannot get the Gospel off of their minds. This has been the most overlooked role found in Ephesians 4:11 “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers”.
The Evangelist is someone who is sent by the local church to herald (proclaim) the Gospel. Phillip was one of those men. He went with a voice like a trumpet (Kerysso) heralding the good news of Jesus. The list of evangelists in church history would take too much of your attention to read here. The Evangelist is someone who stands at the gates of hell, and reaches their hands through the bars, and snatches people from that horrible rebellious condition into the light of our King Jesus. This is the evangelist’s role.
“I realize that this may make a lot of people angry and pride will likely make the leadership in some churches want to attack this type of thinking. However, the right interpretation of scripture and church history cannot be silenced.”
Our Self Inflicted Consequences for not taking the role of Evangelist seriously
For too long the role of the Evangelist has been overlooked in the American church. We can look around and see the spiritual health of our Nation – homosexuality, the government flaunting and glorify murder and homosexuality, greed, suicide, perversion of sex, etc… The list could go on. Now is the time for the church to revisit the role of evangelists. We are not healthy as a nation in part because we are not seeking, training, and sending the Evangelist out. I realize that this may make a lot of people angry and pride will likely make the leadership in some churches want to attack this type of thinking. However, the right interpretation of scripture and church history cannot be silenced.
We are to love scripture and to fear God. This is why I know this needs to be written.
I don’t see the Evangelist being sent out (Kerysso) and I don’t see a healthy fear of God in our culture. I am stating the obvious for the Christians; however, if the condition of our culture truly concerned us, we would be seeking, training, and commissioning the Evangelist. I see neither the fear of God in our Nation right now nor the desire of our churches to send the Evangelist. Church leadership has chosen not to visit the treasure house of Church history in this area and sit at the feet of history and learn a valuable lesson. So goes the Evangelist, so goes the church, and the culture continues its descent into darker rebellion against the King of glory.
“Let me ask you this: how much further can someone be pushed into hell? If they are under judgment, they are under judgment. You keeping your mouth shut cannot change the fact of judgment.”
I see a nation full of bold sinners and a Church that, on a whole, is afraid to speak and afraid to send the Evangelist because they fear pushing someone further away from Jesus. Let me ask you this: how much further can someone be pushed into hell? If they are under judgment, they are under judgment. You keeping your mouth shut cannot change the fact of judgment. Their rebellious sin against God is enough to cost them an eternity in hell. You are not going to push them further away. In fact, your silence will leave them there. Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt 10:28) Have you thought about this fact at great length lately: those in sin are going to be tormented in hell? Stop and think – your silence and the lack of sending evangelists to them is leaving them in their condition.
This is like the doctor having a cure for his patients but not wanting to upset them by telling them they have a terminal condition. Wake up bride of Christ! You have the cure for the sinful rebellious heart: the Gospel of Jesus Christ that you are to speak and the Evangelist that you are to send.
This is a time to review church history and the role of the Evangelist! The time is now and we must be the people that are going to change. Do you want to see God glorified and the people of our Nation start to grow in their relationship with their creator? Unleash the Evangelist into your city. They are there.
Don’t get Evangelism confused with the Evangelist
εὐαγγελίζω euangelízō, yoo-ang-ghel-id’-zo; from G2095 and G32; to announce good news (“evangelize”) especially the gospel:—declare, bring (declare, show) glad (good) tidings, preach (the gospel).
Evangelism is the task of sharing the Good News. Everyone who is a Christian has been given this charge from our great King, Jesus. We are to share in the workplace, home, neighborhoods, classrooms, and any other place we find ourselves. Some churches are doing a good job of this. I find one of the easiest places to do evangelism is in the vicinity of the preaching of the Gospel. Those who are called to do evangelism should link up and stand around the heralding of the Gospel. Having done this, evangelism opportunities will fall right in their laps. The biggest barrier I have seen over the years is simply getting the church to leave the comfort of the church walls, and venture out into the world.
If you are not going and sharing, there is no way the Evangelist can do it on his own. We all have to work together in order to fulfill the great commission of Jesus. Do you realize how your church would benefit from seeking, training, and sending an Evangelist? Have you ever thought about finding the Evangelist in your church? Better question: Have you seen the need to raise up the Evangelist from within your congregation?
Just because it is done wrong does not mean scrap it. Let’s redeem it!
Yes there are plenty of so called self-proclaimed evangelists. People whose preaching diminishes the glory of God by abusing the passerby with obnoxious yelling and screaming through bull horns, with flame banners flying and their misappropriation of the Gospel message. They pound the drum of hell without ever giving the hope of Jesus. A balanced approach needs to emerge in modern evangelicalism: the Evangelist with the bleeding compassionate heart and the voice of a trump. What Richard Baxter says about the pastor can also hold true for the Evangelist, “I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men.”
Just because this type of preaching has been done wrong does not mean we need to scrap a model that is as old as the Bible itself. Now more than ever we need pastors who seek out evangelists, train them, and then commission them out into their cities. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.
Martin Lloyd Jones stated, “What you get, in other words, in the whole of the New Testament is that apostolic practice consisted of proclamation. And, of course, that has been precisely the same in the great periods of reformation and revival ever since the long history of the Christian Church”.
Is your church sending evangelists?
Does your church intentionally seek out, equip, and send out pastors, teachers, and evangelists? The major dominations have conferences designed for the equipping and sending out of pastors and the raising up of missionaries from within the body. I am a Southern Baptist we just had our huge SEND conference in Nashville, TN. Nevertheless, when is the last time you went to a conference on seeking, training, and commissioning evangelists from within local congregations? Let this silence in your mind serve as a loving rebuke as to the neglect of the role of the open air Evangelist (herald). The most overlooked role today is the Evangelist.How many evangelists are currently being trained in your church and being sent out to herald the Gospel on your local city street festivals, abortion clinics, sporting events, and college campuses?
Errors being made by church leaders
The first error. The Evangelist is discouraged because the pastor simply avoids them. They are not encouraging the church to go out with the Evangelist. This is to the church’s detriment. The church is infused with great boldness as they go out and share the Gospel. This will bleed over into other areas of their life. I am going to be honest, if the pastor supports it, the church will get behind it. I have seen this happen first hand. When the pastor comes out to support the proclamation of the Gospel, the church will too. A church in New Jersey had twenty five of their people come out and share their faith. The pastor got behind open air proclamation. A church in Massachusetts had nineteen come out and share their faith in the middle of the day on a weekday. The people will follow their shepherd!
The second error. The Evangelist has never been challenged to examine their desires to see if they are an Evangelist. They are sitting there quietly not understanding what is going on inside of them. They can’t get the Gospel out of their minds. They are constantly being pushed by the Holy Spirit but they are sitting there waiting for the pastor to encourage them. Does anyone have these desires? Are you constantly thinking about how to share the Gospel? Do you like talking with and being around people? Do you feel like you are going to explode if you don’t share Jesus? These are some of the desires of the Evangelist. They are like horses in a starting gate ready to bolt out with the Gospel message all over your beloved city. The majority of churches have taken them out of the starting gate and led them over to graze in other ministries within the church. The Evangelist is not given the gift of proclamation in order to wipe noses, pick up toys, serve hot dogs, and hand out cotton candy although I think he should do these things, too. Doing those things shows that he is willing to serve and not pridefully flaunt his gift like a Pharisee. The fact remains; these people have a God-given desire to proclaim and the church is not using them to their God given potential.
The third error. The church leadership does not know how to train or handle the Evangelist. Men who are in leadership roles within the church are often intimidated by the evangelists because they are bold at sharing their faith in Jesus. A pastor once told me that they are intimidated when they see the evangelists because they are reminded that they themselves are not sharing the Gospel enough. That is a gift to you pastor! The Evangelist is able to help you keep the main thing the main thing. Which is the sharing of the Gospel!
The Evangelist keeps the leadership’s and the members’ eyes pointing north towards the Gospel and when people are wavering they are going to be convicted. Don’t reject this gift. Embrace it and let it ignite you and your congregation to greater obedience. Don’t let your pride blind you to the gift of the evangelists in your church.
Errors of the Evangelist
First error. The Evangelists are self-appointing themselves. They must be sent, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11) We see the role of evangelists is equal with the role of prophet, pastor, and teacher. Therefore, the evangelist’s role is of equal importance within the New Testament church structure. Where the Evangelist goes wrong is in appointing themselves. In their zeal, they hit the ground running and make a sinful mistake. I am going to be transparent; this was my error in the beginning. In time I recognized my error and asked my church leadership to examine my life and doctrine, and, if the Lord led them, to send me out as an Evangelist. Every herald seen in scripture was sent out from a local body of believers. This helps to protect them and shows them that their role and gift belong to the local body for the edification of the local body.
Second error.They are not letting the church leadership examine their lives to make sure that they are an Evangelist and they are ready for the task that has been given. This does not happen overnight it takes time to examine a person’s life. The Evangelist will wait with great eagerness until he is sent by his local church.
Third error. Non-profits or parachurches are sending out evangelists instead of pointing them back to their local leadership. This is an error that needs to be corrected and is complicated by the lack of sending churches. Nevertheless, it still must be addressed. As more churches start sending out evangelists, I think this will naturally begin to correct itself.
I still have to correct the error of sending evangelists instead of their church sending them. I am currently working through that process. Gospel of God Ministries is poised to help the church leaders find and train their evangelists. We will no longer circumvent the authority of the local church structure. We will lovingly direct the nomadic Evangelist to repent and wait to be sent from the local church before proclaiming in the open air.
The traits of the Evangelist
The Evangelist has to have a strong, passionate love for the local church. What did Jesus say the gates of hell will not prevail against? “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” (Matt 16:18) The church spoken of in this text is the universal church, this is a given. However, the way the kingdom of God is advancing is through the local body of believers. Every local body, whether it is comprised of fifty believers or five hundred, has an Evangelist.
He is always thinking about the Gospel and how he can share. Others are hearing about his evangelism encounters and being convicted to go share themselves. He has a love for Jesus and boldness to go with that love. He is not uncomfortable when people disagree with him – especially unbelievers. He has very thick skin and does not take ridicule and rejection personally. He is a faithful witness and everyone around him is challenged by him. He realizes his gift is not for him but the local church. He has tons of patience with nervous and fearful Christians.
Here are some other characteristics that Charles Spurgeon suggests that an Evangelist should have.
QUALIFICATIONS FOR OPEN-AIR PREACHERS
1. A good voice.
2. Naturalness of manner.
4. A good knowledge of Scripture and of common things.
5. Ability to adapt himself to any congregation.
6. Good illustrative powers.
7. Zeal, prudence, and common sense.
8. A large, loving heart.
9. Sincere belief in all he says.
10. Entire dependence on the Holy Spirit for success.
11. A close walk with God by prayer.
12. A consistent walk before men by a holy life.
God has given this local body a gift that may be a diamond in the rough, but it is still a jewel to the local body. Shame on the body of Christ if we don’t take them, and polish them, in order to set them up in our cities’ abortion clinics, street festivals, college campuses, and local sporting events to let the Gospel light shine through them for the Glory of God.
The long path ahead
There is a lot of seeking, evaluating, training, and commissioning to be done; we have to train them and this is a process that takes time. Since this has been avoided by the church for so long, there is virtually, in reference to the number of Christians, no one training these men. The pastors really don’t know where to begin. This is where mature and competent evangelists can help. It is our role to get this back on the radar at the grass root level of the local church. Let’s be honest, most churches are not healthy when it comes to seeking, training and sending evangelists from their local church.
Is your church healthy? If not, it is time to learn from history and seek, train, and send the Evangelist into your city. The time to repent is now. The change is needed. Let us help you. We can come and facilitate finding and training the evangelists within your congregation. The spiritual health of our cities and nation depend upon what we do with our evangelists.
If our ministry can help you in this endeavor, please let us know. Once we find him we can help you train him so that you can unleash him on your city.