Well, I’m not really a very good one either, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.
The title of this post is a sentiment that I’ve heard from time to time over the last several years. I’ve heard it expressed in a few different ways, but several people have told me something that goes like this:
You don’t understand… Not everyone is like you and can do the things that you do. We aren’t all evangelists.
Or they might possibly connect the discussion to spiritual gifting:
You know, I just don’t have the gift of evangelism, so sharing with others isn’t what I do.
Or finally, suggesting the same about others:
God doesn’t give the same gifts to everyone, so we can’t suggest that everyone should be able to share with others in the same way that you do.
These concerns – really, objections – typically come up with Christians that I’ve spoken with as we’ve discussed that being a disciple of Jesus means making a disciple of Jesus. In fact, based on this experience, I would even dare to say that some reading this post will likely say that I raise this issue because I have a gifting of evangelism and am sensitized to this, thinking that everyone should go and constantly evangelize others (I’ve heard that one too! ?).
But please hear me when I say that this is not who I am. Yes, I do go to evangelize. I do walk up to people on the streets, start a conversation and ultimately share my testimony, the Gospel, or both with them. And there are times that I walk away from those conversations having truly enjoyed how it went.
But I promise you that each time that I do, it is a matter of decision. I’ve scheduled that time because I know that I need to specifically set aside the time to go, or I won’t go. I’ve put together the things that I need for that time and walked out the door, obligating myself to go and do it…because it doesn’t come naturally to me.
Instead, for me, the truth is something quite different. I have needed to learn from others the importance of going, how to share, and what to do as a next step after I have completed the initial steps of connecting and sharing the Gospel. And it is this process that I have been through that I believe the scriptures speak of and teach us.
Just before returning to heaven, Jesus told his disciples that they would speak for him locally and beyond. He said:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.Acts 1:8
So we see that Jesus intended for us to share with others, yet I wonder where the confusion comes from about whether or not we are called to share with others, to be evangelists. Personally, I think that it is related to a fear of rejection for our faith. We think that by sharing with others we will no longer be in relationship with those that know what we truly believe. And it is possible that this is true, that we might be rejected.
But I think that the most difficult part is that we might use the listing of the spiritual gifts that are intended to build up the church as an excuse why we shouldn’t do one of those things because that is currently not one of the areas where we are strong.
Let’s take a look at what that scripture says:
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.Ephesians 4:11-13
We can see clearly here that there is a reason that Christ gave these gifts. Of course, it should be the case that those with these gifts are exercising them regularly, but that actually isn’t what Paul says here. Instead, he says that it is to equip the people to serve!
If we are to follow the plans and commands of Jesus, I believe it means that we need to bring forward those who have each of the gifts and allow them to teach so that the body will be equipped. Some of that teaching may not look like what we are used to in our churches, but I believe that it is very important if we truly desire to see the body of Christ around us built up into maturity and the fullness of Christ.