No Such Thing as 'the Gift of Evangelism'

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By Ed Stetzer, CP Guest Columnist
July 25, 2010|9:15 pm

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.

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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?

Adapted from Ed Stetzer's weblog at www.edstetzer.com. Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., is President of LifeWay Research and LifeWay’s Missiologist in Residence. Ed is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine and Catalyst Monthly, serves on the advisory council of Sermon Central and Christianity Today's Building Church Leaders, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USA Today and CNN. Ed is Visiting Professor of Research and Missiology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and Visiting Research Professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Ed blogs daily at EdStetzer.com.
 

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