Posted by: sdunnpastor | August 14, 2010

NO SUCH THING AS THE GIFT OF EVANGELISM

Those of us who attended General Conference heard Ed Stetzer say something about evangelism that was provocative, yet set us thinking. This is from his blog. What’s your response?

Recently, I spoke at the Church of God Triennial meeting in Decatur, IL. One of the things I talked about was my belief that there is no such thing as “the gift of evangelism.” Part of my concern is that I hear many people saying they don’t have the “gift of evangelism” and thus believing it is not their responsibility to do evangelism (since they don’t have the “gift”). And, since evangelism can be a challenge at times, that seems to be a “gift” that people don’t want.

In the mid-90s, a well-known leader who created a “spiritual gifts test,” told me that about 10% of people have the gift of evangelism. Yet, that number seems to be on decline. Barna recently released research saying, “Among the interesting facets of the research was that just 1% of believers claim to have the gift of evangelism (down from 4% five years ago).”

Hmmmmm.

I don’t think this means there is a widespread growing realization that no one has the gift of evangelism. My best guess is that it is because people are talking themselves out of their obligation to do evangelism.

I think that the current challenge of evangelism is why an increasing number of people do not think they have the gift.

Here are four proposals I made at that meeting.

1. All believers are given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). That is, their role is to be agents of reconciliation and share how men and women are to be redeemed and changed by the power of the gospel.

2. Timothy was called to do his work in evangelistic ways (2 Timothy 4:5) but based on the fact that all are called to present the gospel of reconciliation, it makes sense that we can heed that admonition in all our lives. Thus, I encourage pastors to do ministry in evangelistic ways, but particularly church leaders (since Timothy was a church leader). Like in 1 Timothy 3, leaders are almost always commanded to do the things believers do– just more so.

3. The church is gifted with evangelists (Eph. 4:11) who help us be faithful doing evangelism. We should talk more about the gifted people called evangelists.

4. It is unhelpful to refer to evangelism as a gift because it removes the responsibility of all believers. In other words, many think that if they don’t have the gift, it is not their job. Evangelism is not a “gift,” it is a call to all believers.

What do you think?

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Responses

  1. Ephesains 4:11 & 12: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,”
    The Scripture is clear that ‘some’ are evangelists, not “all”. There is a difference between a person who has this abilitiy and a person who doesn’t. I agree we are all called to share Chrsit. In doing so, we become evangelists for the moment. That isn’t the same has having a gift of evanglism. Most don’t have a burning desire to share Christ. A person with the gift of evangelism has that desire and does so at every opportunity. Not all are teachers. All can teach if need be, but do not have that ‘burning desire’. There is a difference. There is a gifting – according to the Scriputre.

  2. Thank you, Barb. Stetzer, I think (since I heard his original presentation live in Decatur) was resorting to hyperbole to remind the ENTIRE church that we are a COMMUNITY IN MISSION and that mission is the ministry of reconciliation. It is my prayer as a pastor that more and more of my people will have that burning desire you speak of, whether they are GIFTED or not.


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