“I know I should be more evangelistic, but that’s just not my gift.”
“I have a friend who is lost. I need to get my pastor (or some other gifted person) to tell them about Jesus.”
Have you ever had thoughts like the ones above? Maybe you didn’t use these exact words but have you thought that you were not the right person to share the gospel with some you know? I know that it is tempting to want to delegate something as important as eternity to a professional, or someone who seems to have a special gift from the Lord. However, the fact is, each of us can (and should) share Christ.
Consider these two Bible passages:
And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt 4:19)
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
In both of these verses, effective evangelism is rooted in our relationship and dependence on God.
"Effective evangelism is rooted in our relationship and dependence on God."
Through the years I have talked with people about sharing their faith and listened as they expressed a desire to have a gift of evangelism. Or, I have listened as some have used the fact that they didn’t have a gift of evangelism as a reason for not being more evangelistic.
No matter what we believe about the listing of spiritual gifts in the Bible, whether the lists are exhaustive or intended to be representative, I find it quite interesting that the New Testament writers never list evangelism as a spiritual gift. The writers list sign gifts and service gifts, they describe leadership gifts and ministry gifts, public gifts and private gifts. However, evangelism is not included in any list.
But what about Ephesians 4:11?
I’m glad you asked. This verse is often used to support the idea that evangelism is a spiritual gift. It is important to recognize that this passage is not a reference to specific gifts given to individuals. Rather, it is a reference to specific individuals who themselves are gifts to the church. God gives us evangelists so that we can all be better at the task of evangelism. Consider these words of John Stott:
Since all Christians are under obligation, when they have an appropriate opportunity, to bear witness to Christ and his good news, the gift of an ‘evangelist’ … must be something different... It must relate in some way to an evangelistic ministry, whether in mass evangelism, personal evangelism, literature evangelism, film evangelism, radio and television evangelism, musical evangelism or in the use of some other medium. There is a great need for gifted evangelists today who will pioneer new ways of exercising and developing their gift, so as to penetrate the vast unreached segments of society for Christ.
These individuals are indeed “gifts” to the body of Christ. However, their special ministry cannot be used as an excuse for the rest of us to neglect the responsibility of sharing Christ.
"The best way to learn to share Christ is by doing it. The challenge is to anchor our faith in Christ and step out by faith."
Sure evangelism is hard. But you can do it. Think of all the difficult things you have learned to do in your life.
You learned to drive.
You learned to do Algebra.
You learned to cook.
You learned to remodel a room or tile a floor.
You learned a new language.
You even learned to order coffee at Starbucks!
The fact is, you do hundreds of things every week that you have learned to do. Some of them were even scary or complicated. Now, you do them with very little thought.
Why should evangelism be any different?
Here’s a hint: it isn’t!
The best way to learn to share Christ is by doing it. The challenge is to anchor our faith in Christ and step out by faith. We trust that he will guide us and that he is the one who makes us fishers of men and draws men to himself.
Don’t wait on the gift?
Be the gift to someone else.
D. Scott Hildreth is Director of the Center for Great Commission Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Assistant Professor of Missiology. He is also the author of several books including Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out, 2nd Ed. For more information about this book and access to free video resources, go to https://www.bhacademic.com/sharingjesus/.