Evangelism is so important for church growth that one can understand why many Christian circles tend to overemphasize it. Overemphasize?
Before I answer this, I need to stress that I personally believe in evangelism so much so that I have dedicated my life to see that it happens on a worldwide scale. When I lived in California, my personalized license plate read “MT 28:19” and my wife’s read “MT 28:20”—the Great Commission wherever we went. I have already suggested that the gift of evangelist is the primary organ in the Body of Christ for church growth. My objective in this book, as in every book I write, is to advance the evangelization of the world in our generation. I do not want to be misinterpreted on this matter in the slightest, because what I am about to say may be controversial.
To evangelize the world more effectively in our generation, I believe that many evangelicals need to get their heads out of the clouds concerning pronouncements about the degree of involvement the average Christian ought to have in active evangelistic work. We need to recognize certain basic things. For one thing, every true Christian should be in tune with God who is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Most every Christian desires to see people saved and brought into the fellowship of the Body. This is not the issue.
For another thing, every true Christian is a witness for Jesus Christ whether or not he or she has the gift of evangelist. Furthermore, all Christians need to be prepared to share their faith with unbelievers and lead them to Christ whenever the opportunity presents itself. This is the Christian role that corresponds to this spiritual gift, which I will discuss in more detail shortly.
Having said this, it is time we admit that many good, faithful, consecrated, mature Christian people are in love with Jesus Christ, but they are not, do not care to be and, for all intents and purposes, will not be significantly involved in evangelization in any direct way. Indirectly, yes. They will contribute to the growth of the Body of Christ as the lungs, the small intestines, the kidneys and the thyroid gland contribute to human reproduction. And they will carry out their role of witness when circumstances so dictate. But they won’t go around looking for new opportunities to share their faith.
It is a misunderstanding of biblical teaching, in my opinion, to try to convince all Christians that they have to be sharing the faith constantly as a part of their duty to the Master. We do not tell them that they have to teach all the time, pastor others all the time or be an apostle, a prophet, an administrator, a leader or a missionary, if they have not been given the spiritual equipment to do the job well. To make people feel guilty if they get gasoline and do not share Christ with the filling station attendant, if they do not leave tracts for the mail carrier or if they do not witness to the server in the restaurant may actually harm the Body of Christ more than help it. — Peter Wagner, Your Spiritual Gifts: Can Help Your Church Grow (Ventura, CA: Regal, 2012), 169–170.
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