How Can A Church Congregation Help Evangelists? John Corts March 1, 2004 A man-on-the-street interviewer queried, “What is an evangelist?”, of passers-by. “Do you know what the word means?” he asked further on seeing their blank expressions. “It’s that huge animal that used to ravage Africa that is now extinct and doesn’t exist any more”, was one reply. At the door to a large church, one saint responded, “Wasn’t Evangelist one of the twelve apostles just like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego?” Neglect of the “evangelist” by some and all-inclusive use of the word by others has resulted in much ignorance and confusion about the evangelistic mission of the church. An “evangelist” is a bearer of the “evangel”, the good news of the gospel of Christ. The Body of Christ, His Church, was given the commission to “go to all the world” and to “disciple all peoples”. His last command is our first priority! Evangelists are given to the church, Ephesians 4:10-13, along with other leaders, apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers, to lead the church in its development to the full maturity of Christ-likeness that pleases the Father. Amsterdam 2000 used the simplified definition of an evangelist as one who shares the good news, and urges a response, and does this within the life of the church. Evangelists may consider their ministry to be outside the church organizationally and practically because congregations have exhibited little interest or passion for evangelists. This results in a kind of default lone-rangerism that detours biblical evangelism. So, what can a local church congregation do to work with its Evangelist? Here are twelve practical suggestions that ought be considered. Identify them! The church is alert to the spiritual giftedness of its members. While all disciples may witness and share the gospel with others, not all are evangelists, just as all believers may offer shepherding comfort and care, though not all are pastors. The Evangelist is especially gifted of the Spirit to bring others to spiritual birth with particularly effective results. Both in success and in struggle, the true evangelist’s attitude and focus will be clear. A sense of urgency and passion about the winning of others to the Lord is not worked up, but abides as part of the character of the true evangelist. The church affirms the evangelist’s gifts, agreeing with the fruitfulness and benefiting from the ministry. Encourage them! An evangelist who begins in the local congregation ought be encouraged by the interest, enthusiasm and thoughtfulness of his church family. Thoughtfulness to remember the evangelist and their family, like occasions of his birthday, anniversary, program start, etc., with a phone call, note, visit or other contact says much to encourage and lift the spirit of the Lord’s servant. To express the congregation’s care and concern, affection and appreciation, encourages the evangelist to persevere in exercising God’s gift. Train them! Preparation for the Lord’s work can mean education and training to grasp the lessons that others have rendered. Churches can see that gifted evangelists are able to get their education. Additionally, churches offer open doors for trial efforts of the evangelist who is establishing themselves in winning others to Christ. Opportunities to grow in service with the evangelist’s giftedness will seal the calling of the evangelist, and aid in sharpening the skills, tools and capacities for further service. Ordain them! It was to the church that the Spirit said, “separate unto me Paul and Barnabas” as the early missionary journeys began. The church should guide the God-called and God-gifted person with encouragement and training to the consecration to this special work. Laying on of hands means ordination and validation of their calling. It is the seal of allowance (or release of “loosing” them) as heaven has already done. Church congregational credentialing may be formalized or practical and serves as a fellowship tie (or “binding” affiliation) that strengthens both the evangelist and the congregation. Support them! Financial support of the evangelist is a strong statement and follows naturally when the identification and validation steps have encouraged them. Some receive financial gifts of support from individuals in the congregation, occasional offerings, or some are included, like other missionaries, in the annual support budgets of the church. Some are placed on church staff salaries, though serving outside, to represent the church’s world-wide witness. Hold them Accountable! Regular meetings within the organized church structures to fellowship, to support, to assist and to challenge the evangelist will build understanding and lead to natural accountability. Evangelist and church ought agree on goals of ministry and then, follow up carefully. The church is able to ask the hard questions of purity of life and doctrine, honesty and disclosures, reality and pride – – examine the results in the prayerful, sympathetic spirit of being fellow soldiers of the cross as an extension of His Body. Comfort and Correct them! Evangelists need the caring community when they struggle and when loss occurs. They also need correction from a loving community covenanting together to walk worthy of the high calling of His service. The church can urge repentance, support change and offer counsel in a fellowship that maintains expectations and standards with grace and dignity for stedfastness through the ups and downs of ministry experience. Love them and Honor them! The church is admonished to “hold them (leaders and advisers) lovingly in highest regard because of their work”. Acknowledgment of the evangelist with information about their ministry activities will help the congregation to grasp this concept. Celebrate with them and pray with them as they steer their way. Let them know the congregation cares and prayerfully follows their works to glorify the Lord. Pray For them! Use strategies within the prayer life of the church to include the evangelist and their ministry. Pray regularly and consistently, but also at special events; generally, but also specifically as ministry demands dictate; continually, but thoroughly; publicly, but also in small groups and private devotional prayers; urgently with passion and spiritual insight. Use them! The gifts of the evangelist should be used in the activities and life of the local church congregation. Whether in public meetings, classes or announced programs, or, in the individual calling, training for witnessing, affinity groups, etc., the evangelist can bring fruitful, productive evangelistic results within their own congregation. So, open doors for the evangelist within the church. Place their gifts in service. Use them to stir the evangelistic fervor of others and round out the ministry of the congregation. Cooperate With them! Let the evangelist be part of the ministry team of the congregation. Participate with the evangelist whenever possible and to the extent that you are able. Being present is a big encouragement by itself. Be a backer, especially as evangelists try new things and new types of approach to the outsiders. Promote them! Testify to others about the effectiveness of the evangelist in bringing others to trust in Christ. Your witness to other believers and other churches will help to spread the insight of using God-gifted evangelists to stir the church to the evangelistic mandate we all share. Give the evangelist the high reputation of God’s favor for His ministry well done! When Jesus taught his disciples about the end result, He said, “Lift up your eyes and look on the fields for they are white already to harvest.” John 4:35 The next verse points out that “both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together”. This speaks of the bond of unity in purpose, calling and ministry. Let the church congregation and the itinerating evangelist rejoice together in God’s special place and mission for both. ______________________________ John R. Corts is former President of the Billy Graham Evaneglistic Association and now serves with Campus Crusade for Christ. Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.