How to Uncover the Gift of Evangelism in Your Church
You’ve likely heard people say, “I have the gift of teaching” or “I have the gift of hospitality.” How often, though, have you heard someone say, “I have the gift of evangelism?”
Someone recently said to me, “Why does it seem the gift of evangelism is non-existent in the local church?”
I propose two reasons along with some encouragement on how pastors and others can seek out this gift in the congregation.
The gift of evangelism is often not mentioned or encouraged
Sadly, evangelism is not at the forefront of many churches the way it once was. Even when spiritual gifts are addressed from the pulpit, the gift of evangelism is frequently not even mentioned.
I was in a church service as a visitor some time ago and the pastor was addressing the need for people to discover what their spiritual gift was and to use it. With much enthusiasm, he encouraged the audience, “If you have the gift of teaching, use it. If you have the gift of administration, use it.” He went on to mention three or four other gifts.
Interestingly enough, he never mentioned the gift of evangelism. Someone sitting there would not have been encouraged to ask, “Might it be that I have the gift of evangelism?”
Solution – Any time spiritual gifts are stressed, be sure that the gift of evangelism gets equal emphasis.
The gift of evangelism is wrongly characterized
If any spiritual gift is wrongly characterized, then those with that gift might be misled into thinking they do not have it.
For example, sometimes it is stressed that those who are gifted evangelists are extroverts. While that is sometimes true, gifts and personalities must not be confused. I have met people who would be more characterized as introverts that are greatly gifted in evangelism. In fact, at EvanTell we talk of how introverts can often make great evangelists because they are more prone to listen carefully before sharing with someone.
Another thought presented in one way or another is that a person with the gift of evangelism does not experience fear in sharing his or her faith. A person once said to me, “At times I think I may have the gift of evangelism, but since sometimes I am afraid to share my faith, I guess I don’t.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. Those with the gift of evangelism often have times when they are afraid – myself included. The presence of fear does not mean the absence of gift.
Solution – In explaining the gift of evangelism, encourage believers not to confuse personality and gift, and assure them that the presence of gift can still involve the presence of fear.
With that said, how do we help those within the church determine if they have such a gift and thus be an encouragement to them?
At least three things often characterize those with the gift of evangelism.
They can communicate to non-Christians
Because their gift allows them to understand unbelievers better than others do, they have a way of talking to them that communicates God’s truth in an understandable way.
I was once speaking to some non-Christians and informed them that God was not asking them to trust the sacraments but instead to trust Christ as their only way to heaven. A believer afterwards expressed his surprise that I would call things such as the Lord’s Supper “sacraments” when biblically speaking they are memorials. Christ said, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (1 Corinthians 11:25). I agreed that that is indeed what the Bible calls them, but that is not what an unbeliever calls them. He instantly agreed and confessed that he was not thinking the way an unbeliever does.
Those with the gift of evangelism think the way unbelievers think so they say things in a way that communicates with them. That is why sometimes they are more effective in bringing people to a point of decision. They say things in a way unbelievers understand.
They enjoy having contacts and conversations with non-believers
More than the average believer, those with the gift of evangelism enjoy contacts and conversations with those who have not met the Savior. The reason is quite simple – they afford him a chance to exercise his gift. One cannot save the saved. He can only save the non-believer. So those with gift in sharing their faith enjoy being with those with whom they might have an opportunity to share the gospel.
In fact, they are often frustrated when put in an environment where they do not have constant contact with non-Christians. I know of a man with the gift of evangelism who was brought on a church staff to evangelize and train others in evangelism. Sadly, that position degenerated into purely an administrative task where he was not around unbelievers. Hence, his tenure at the church was short-lived as he became frustrated and left.
They must be around unbelievers.
They are effective in motivating and training others in evangelism
Biblically speaking, the gift of evangelism is a gift with two prongs. One prong is directed to non-Christians and involves reaching. The word “evangelist” means one who announces the gospel. The other prong is directed to believers and involves teaching. Ephesians 4:12 explains that the gift is “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” For that reason, those with the gift of evangelism are often effective through their own example and teaching in training others to share their faith. On top of that, their enthusiasm in talking to the lost is highly motivational in the lives of believers, causing them to want to do it themselves.
There are more people within the body of Christ that have gift in evangelism then we may realize. But here is the bottom line. To see those people surface, we must give the gift of evangelism the same emphasis we give other gifts and characterize it properly. As we do, what could be more exciting than to begin to hear some believers say, “Maybe I do have the gift of evangelism”?
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