A new commandment I give you: love one another.
As I have loved you, so must you love one another.
All men will know that you are my disciples
if you love one another (John 14:34,35).
I when I am lifted up from the earth,
will draw all men to myself (John 12:32).
All elders are not pastors and teachers; some will be evangelists. An evangelist is a person who specialises in preaching the gospel. He will go out from the Church into the world, to preach the gospel and draw people in. At the same time he will lead and train others in evangelism. Philip is one person in the New Testament who exercised this ministry. Luke describes him as "the evangelist" (Acts 21:8).
There are three criteria for selecting a person for this ministry. First, he must be a Christian who is demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit in his life. He will also have a good understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. An evangelist must be able to answer the questions that are raised by enquirers. Finally he must have demonstrated that he is able to proclaim the gospel successfully. The main sign that a person is being called to be an evangelist is that many people are being won for Christ by his testimony.
An evangelist will be an outgoing person who feels at home in the hurly burly of the market place and the public square. He will take the gospel into any place where people are meeting; into the taverns and onto the streets. The true evangelist is always aggressive; not waiting for sinners to come to him, but going to any place where they gather. His greatest joy is to see a large crowd listening to the gospel message.
A deep love for the lost will motivate all his actions. He will often weep for those who refuse to accept the gospel. His love will be obvious to all who hear his words. Signs and wonders will often accompany his preaching, as a visible demonstration of Gods love for those who are in bondage to the devil.
Yet there will be a toughness about the character of an evangelist. He will not be intimidated by brawling crowds or anti-christian authorities. His zeal for the gospel is such that he will not be deterred, even if the authorities forbid the proclamation of the gospel. (Acts 5:27,28,40-42). He will often act in a prophetic way when confronting rulers who obstruct the gospel. A good example of this is Stephen, who under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gave a stern warning to the Jewish authorities who had arrested him for preaching (Acts 7).
An evangelist will not be frightened to confront sin, and will boldly warn of its consequences. In contrast, pastors who are gentler by nature, usually preach a softer gospel. This kind of gospel tends to produce soft Christians, who are not truly converted. The great evangelists of the past always preached the wrath of God towards sin before speaking of His mercy in Christ.
The church has not been very good at accommodating evangelists. Most have had to work outside the church in para-church organisations. Those who have found a place in the church have usually been forced to become pastors. In this role they may win many converts, but they do not have the pastoral abilities needed to disciple them. Evangelists who pastor churches tend to use the methods of evangelism. They care for their people by preaching at them, because this is the gift they have. In depth ministry is often done at the front of the church after an "altar call". This kind of ministry tends to produce thrill-seeking Christians, who are dependent on their pastors. The result is big churches with immature people.
Evangelists should be freed from their pastoral duties, and sent out into the world. This is where preaching with sign and wonders belongs. They should be freed to develop the full potential of their ministry. And every Church should have at least one evangelist who can go out into the world and preach the gospel, and teach others to do the same.
Not every Christian is called to be an evangelist, but all are commanded to be witnesses. Every believer must be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks him to give the reason for the hope that he has. As a Christian goes about his daily life, he should bear witness to Jesus, at every opportunity. Every believer must be a witness.
There are two keys to evangelism in the modern age.