Is There An Evangelist In Your Church?

Do you have a heart for evangelism? Would you like to see the work of an Evangelist function within your church?

Oct 27, 2021

Billy Graham is one of the most respected Christian leaders who has lived in the world in recent times. He took Christ at His word, “to preach the Gospel to all nations” (Mark 16:15-16), and has preached the Gospel to, arguably, more audiences than anyone else in history – over 210 million people in his time!

When I first heard Graham on video in the stadium, I paid careful attention to his sermon. I personally doubted people would respond to the simple message he preached. Yet when he gave the altar call, hundreds of people thronged the aisles in response!

I have always had a burden for souls since young. I believed that the gospel is God’s precious message for grace and salvation! But I didn’t understand the struggles of pre-believers, I didn’t hang out much with them, and I didn’t know what would make or not make them open to a response to Christ, in order words—I didn’t have the inclination or gift of an Evangelist!

However, I realized that the work of an Evangelist is crucial for a healthy and growing church. It is one of five pillar-offices needed as described in Ephesians:

[11] It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, [12] to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up [13] 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)

Understand that Paul had an impactful and anointed ministry in Ephesus. Magic books and icons representing past lives were burnt and destroyed, people came to Christ and spiritual powers fell! Paul writes the above in the light of a powerful birth and growth of the Ephesian church. If I wanted to note what would empower and grow the church, I would pay attention to Paul’s words in Ephesians…and the call of an Evangelist to build a healthy church is a crucial one in his writing!

From my experience in working with churches, I have observed that:

  • Most believers have less close pre-believing friends the longer they have been Christian,
  • Most cell-groups indicate outreach life as the weakest area of their group-life,
  • Most resources (more than 80%) of church programs and time go into non-evangelistic or outreach events in the yearly calendar

These observations are even more significant during Pandemic times: due to isolation, large scale programs becoming inconsistent, and churches struggling to maintain programs for members rather than reaching to the community, more than ever we need intentional strategies to engage outside communities and strengthen cell-groups!

If you desire the health and growth of the church, the role of an Evangelist in championing the above.

But how do we find a “Billy Graham”? Who in our midst can function as an “in-house” Evangelist?

I believe the answer can be—YOU!

Although I don’t have the profile and gifts of an Evangelist, by God’s grace, I make a commitment to preach at evangelistic events 2-3 seasons a year. I remember one (very tiring) year I had to preach at 5 evangelistic events in a span of 3 weeks! I have trained churches in the skills and heart of evangelism through my ministry. Though I don’t think I am called to be an Evangelist, when called upon, I can function as a fair Evangelist—because of heart!

Due to isolation, large scale programs becoming inconsistent, and churches struggling to maintain programs for members rather than reaching to the community, more than ever we need intentional strategies to engage outside communities and strengthen cell-groups!

Do you have a heart for evangelism? Would you like to see the work of an Evangelist function within your church?

Let me share with you my thoughts on how to go about it:

1. Call for the Mission

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (Proverbs 29:19, KJV)

God’s blessings flow when His people walk in all the ways of His laws, but they need a vision to keep them walking in it! This word “vision” has been translated as “revelation, word from God, prophetic vision”, and refers to a specific word that “hits someone in the heart”. While all of God’s laws are available, it needs a revelation that hits people in the heart to help them keep walking in God’s ways.

For the call to evangelism, it needs a vision-caster, a teacher that makes God’s heart for the lost come alive to move people toward evangelism in their lives. Someone must call for the mission of evangelism repeatedly:

  • For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost. (Luke 19:10)
  • But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. (Luke 15:32)
  • When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)

When verses such as these jump out and “hit people in the heart”, the vision for evangelism is operating in your church to help people walk in God’s ways in this regard.

During Pandemic times, amidst isolation and pandemic stress, heart-evangelists need to champion the vision for outreach again. This may be done through preaching, through recording short devotions and sending out to members, to let God’s word flow over their souls with regard to God’s heart for the lost.

2. Understand the Secular Mind

One of the observations I had shared earlier is that many believers have less good pre-believing friends, the longer they have been Christian. In some ways it is natural: as we immerse into God’s worldview that we forget what it was like without God. It takes intentionality to understand the heart and mind of those who do not yet know God.

John, a school lecturer, was sharing with me, “I envy you so that you have another job outside of this school. I used to work in the corporate sector. But now I can’t find a job outside, and I am stuck in this school. I wished I could get a job and not be here…”

I was teaching in a public school over 6 years of my life. It was a part-time position and a difficult balance with my ministry in church. But I took it nonetheless due to intentionality to meet and connect with people who don’t yet know God. It took much effort to cope with the school workload and yet listen and connect with friends around in a deep way.

We need to remind our church members to be intentional to listen, connect and care for those around them in their school and marketplace, to come to understand their hopes, dreams, and fears. Without intentionality the busy pace of the world will flow over your members and saturate their heart-space.

I was praying for a mentee at this birthday party the other day. He had invited his neighbours and friends, and his house was packed with church friends and neighbours alike. Invited to pray for him, I began by addressing the crowd, “Tom desires a prayer on his birthday. He believes in God and desire God’s blessing over his life and family. Tom believes God has a good plan for his family and desire to know God’s ways and wisdom more. So, let’s observe a moment of respect as we take a minute to pray a blessing over Tom, his wife and children right now…”

When we understand the secular mind, it will also shape the way we pray, preach, and do ministry to be sensitive to both believers and pre-believers alike.

One powerful way that helped me shape ministries is to “profile” the pre-believer friends of our members. We would describe the typical age, job, family-life, language, music style, hopes, worries and concerns of the loved ones of our church members. This exercise forces our members to be intentional in being aware of their friends’ needs.

I remember helping a church to plan for Services where they were going to invite such friends.

The traditional service chose for a presentation a song that sounded like 1980s pop song, while the contemporary service chose a millennial’s song. Both songs were out of the ordinary and different from their usual songs. When we truly understand the secular mind, it will shape the way we run our programs and platforms!

The Pandemic has shaped the needs, hopes and dreams of people in significant ways. In Singapore 2020, a total of 452 suicides were reported, the highest figure since 2012. In a statement on Thursday (July 8), non-profit suicide prevention centre Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) said this was a 13 per cent increase from 2019’s 400 cases. This was observed across all age groups. In particular, the number of suicide deaths among the elderly – aged 60 and above – hit 154, the highest recorded figure among this age group since 1991 and a 26 per cent increase from 2019.

The sense of the loss of hope and life is increasing. The heart-evangelist needs to tune our messages, devotions, and service/cell-group programs to bring hope through the gospel in such times. (ST, July 8)

3. Equipping for Witness

Skills for living a lifestyle of witness may come naturally for some, but do not for most. We need to equip the entire church to be a witness.

[8] 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)

The call for every member is not necessarily to be an evangelist, but to be a witness. We need to understand what it means to be a witness and to grow in it. A witnessing lifestyle is the ability to tell others what Christ has done in our own lives—we are “witnesses” of Christ’s work in us!

This involves:

  • Sharing our own personal testimony clearly and compellingly
  • Introducing spiritual things in our conversations in a natural way
  • Praying discerningly for the needs of pre-believing friends
  • Communicating the gospel-salvation work of Christ when asked or called upon
  • Using our gifts / abilities to help one another reach their pre-believing loved ones as a community and learning to use these gifts for hosting online / hybrid / micro-group (2-3 people) events that can connect with newcomers
  • Learning to use/share online resources to reach friends and loved ones

These are skills that help members understand what a witnessing lifestyle is. Training, demonstrations and mentoring in these arenas help our members grow. Like any skill, one gets better at it the more they are practised. Ultimately yielding our reputation, our fears, and our time to God to be available will see the Holy Spirit open opportunities and imbue us with courage and wisdom to witness boldly!

4. Keeping the Rhythm of Sustenance

The best kind of success is that which is born out of a sustained lifestyle. Through the ups and downs and hectic pace of life, how can we sustain a lifestyle of witness?

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. He has made everything suitable for its time… (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 10-11a, NRSV)

The best kind of success is that which is born out of a sustained lifestyle. Through the ups and downs and hectic pace of life, how can we sustain a lifestyle of witness?

The Bible describes that there are seasons God opens as windows for His purposes in our lives. In that sense, the seasons of time and calendar events of the year also serve as reminders for certain aspects of life. E.g., Harvest in an agrarian culture reminds people of thanksgiving and fruitfulness. Valentine’s Day remind us of our close relationships. Similarly, Christmas or Easter reminds us God’s love and our pre-believing loved ones! Perhaps the Hungry Ghost season could remind us of the concerns on the minds of our unsaved loved ones and how to pray and engage them.

Riding and leveraging these events with church programs is one way to create a regular rhythm to remind and sustain a witnessing lifestyle in our members.

Another key to sustaining a lifestyle requires a community—the church, the cell-group, the micro-groups, and close friends. Organizing relationships in the church as a group, as circles of friends and accountability partners, serve as reminders, avenues of mutual prayer, and channels of courage in living out witness together.

I had shared that I always had a burden & passion for evangelism but never felt I had the ability of an Evangelist. But I had a gift of preaching that was growing. One day, I thought, “is it possible to swing my preaching gift towards evangelism? Could I flex my preaching muscles for the purposes of evangelism to make a difference?”

I began to apply what I knew of preaching—illustration, connecting with needs, giving altar calls—to evangelistic causes. I studied Billy Graham’s sermons and philosophy and asked God for an anointing to grow in this. I accepted every evangelistic assignment given to me. I sweated and prayed under the pressure of preaching evangelistically.

While off to a shaky start, by God’s grace, I now usually average 8-15% of salvation / rededication decisions per event!

I believe if we have a burden and desire, God can use the gifts we have—hospitality, preaching, teaching, 1-1 sharing—to touch pre-believers and further God’s cause for evangelism!

J. Edwin Orr, when lecturing at Wheaton College, brought some students in 1940 to visit England including the Epworth Rectory. While touring with his students, he pointed out beside the bed two worn impressions in the carpet where it was said John Wesley knelt hours in prayer for England’s social and spiritual renewal. As the students were getting on the bus, he noticed one was missing. Going back upstairs he found one student kneeling in the carpet kneeholes praying with his face on the bed: “O Lord, do it again! Do it again!”. Orr placed a hand on the student’s shoulder and said gently, “Come on, we must be going.” So, this boy rose to re-join the bus but, in his prayer, he asked for the same anointing and the presence of God to fall upon him as John Wesley had. That boy was Billy Graham!

You may not have the standard or expected gifts of an Evangelist, but God can anoint and empower you for His mandate. It begins with a hunger and desire for souls!

So, is there an Evangelist in this church?

Why not you?

Rev. Dr. Philip Huan is the Principal Consultant at ChurchLife Resources, and is passionate about helping churches and leaders become strong and healthy!

Do you find it difficult to talk about your faith to pre-believing friends?
Through ‘I am a Witness’ (Evangelism Training), you can learn the perspectives and skills in order to witness effectively using your unique outreach style. Email [email protected] to find out more!

Photo by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash

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