Lately, I have had more people around me talking about the difference between someone who is an evangelist and someone who is a disciple of Jesus. The argument that seems to be prolific is that evangelists are ones that share the gospel, but shouldn’t all disciples of Jesus be sharing the gospel? I mean, shouldn’t that be a normative part of a disciple of Jesus’ life?
Parallel to this discussion, I am reading a book called “Total Church.” The books asserts that we share the gospel as a community of faith with our different gifting. Those that have the gift of hospitality should be using that in light of sharing the gospel. Those with the gift of service, the same. The gift of evangelism is a proclamation gift that is given to some, just like the gift of ‘mercy’ is given to some. (Mark Driscoll does a nice job with the gifts of the spirit through preaching here.) With that said, I don’t think that proclamation is reserved only for the evangelist. I think each and every disciple of Jesus is to be ready to answer questions and give an account for the love that they have. If we are madly in love with Jesus, how could we stop talking about him? Even the greatest introvert (and at times, I might be that!) , when in love, will share about their greatest love or new hobby that has captured them. Even the person that is shy will somehow communicate what is happening around them when love is involved. What if we began to see evangelism how “Total Church” sees evangelism as a three strand cord toward sharing the gospel with a culture that is far from God? What if we thought about evangelism as proclamation, serving, and inviting into community? If this was a three strand cord that needed to be wrapped together, I wonder if we would begin to see our gifting (even those of us that are not evangelists) as necessary in the area of evangelism?
Remember, Jesus told his disciples, all of them, that they were to ‘love one another’ and that the world would know that they were followers of his by their love. Before they were to become teachers, preachers, evangelists, and church leaders, they were to be lovers of people and of God. I wonder if we forget this (and church leaders may be more highlighted here) and therefore experience fallout of ministry or burnout in life. I wonder if it would be important to ‘remember our first love’ so that the foundation of ministry can be strong rather then making ministry THE foundation.
Before the disciples were teachers, preachers, evangelists, and church leaders, Jesus told them to go and make disciples. And we inherit that directive as followers of Jesus Christ. All of us, not just the evangelist. “Go, and make disciples.” So, thinking about evangelism as a three cord strand that we can all be a part of wrapping, what is your next step in disciple making today? What is your gifting and community of faith contribution to helping someone take a step toward Jesus Christ and the community of faith?