Over the years I have heard countless people use some form of the line of “Evangelism is not my Gifting” when explaining why they are not involved with evangelism, or have not shared the Gospel recently (or at all). It is used as the ultimate ‘get out of jail free’ card when the topic of evangelism is brought up and most of the time it works. It gives immediate evidence that the topic is off limits, and the person making the claim has little wish to discuss their further involvement in evangelistic ministries. The conversation can move on to other, more comfortable subjects, and evangelism falls away from the conversation entirely.
Does this claim line up with Scripture, though? Can we honestly say that we have no evangelistic gifting while maintaining a Biblical view of things?
Looking to Scripture, being a Christian goes hand in hand with sharing the Gospel message. Even in times when sharing the Gospel came with great risk evangelizing was standard practice. In Acts 8:4 we see that scattered church “evangelizing” everywhere they went. From the beginning we see that to be a follower of Christ is to be a “fisher of men” (Mark 1:17). Sharing the Gospel and being a Christian go hand in hand like Kool-Aide and sugar.
It appears that our modern church has allowed evangelism to become consider a giftedness to be practiced by some as opposed to spiritual discipline for all as the Bible shows it to be. Imagine if people made the same statements in regards to other spiritual disciplines.
“Praying is not my giftedness. It is best that I leave prayer up to those who God has gifted to do so.”
“God didn’t gift me to read the Bible, but I can encourage those who He did.”
“I would love to tithe but sadly God has gifted me in other areas.”
Because we as a church have allowed evangelism to be considered a giftedness great numbers of laborers have never stepped foot on the field in obedience to the Great Commission. By calling evangelism a giftedness we are actively working against the prayer in Luke 10:2.
If we correctly understand evangelism as a spiritual discipline though we can begin to take steps to better equip ourselves, and those we serve, to better pursue evangelism. We can seek accountability with others in this area, just as we do in prayer and reading. We can encourage each other to be faithful knowing that everyone has the same task before them. We can work to make this a priority in our lives, just as we do for other important areas.
Understanding the role of evangelism as a spiritual discipline also helps us to better understand the gift of the Evangelist mentioned in Ephesians 4:11-12. We know that God has raised up men in the church who He has called and gifted in this area so that the charge can be led. Just as God gave the pastor/teacher to the church, he gave the evangelist to reach outside of the church and equip others to do the same.
J. W. Willard