We need more Evangelists!

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers.  (Ephesians 4:11)
4 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. 5 Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. 6 And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralysed or lame were healed. 8 So there was much joy in that city.  (Acts 8:4-8)
35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.”  (Matthew 9:35-38)
Yesterday we looked at the importance of Prophets, and at the way God wants to use them to equip us all to prophesy.  The same thing is true of Evangelists. These were recognised leaders within the Early Church (Ephesians 4:11), who equipped every believer to become a fruitful witness – to successfully evangelise the nonbelievers around them. Jesus promises in Mark 1:17 that he will turn anybody who follows him into a fisher of men and women. He also promises us in Acts 1:8 that he will transform all of us into his witnesses when the Holy Spirit comes upon us. He insists in Matthew 9 that the problem isn’t with the harvest, but with the workers. The harvest is ready, but the workers are few. The answer is for us to pray and to send out many more workers. That’s you and me!

So why do we need Jesus to gift his Church with Evangelists today? In Acts 8, we can watch the ministry of Philip, an ‘Ephesians 4 evangelist’. Nowadays we tend to think of Evangelists as men or women who preach at big evangelistic rallies, like Billy Graham or J. John. There is definitely some truth to that, as Philip seems to preach at some great rallies in Samaria, but Ephesians 4 describes the primary role of an Evangelist as equipping the local church – imparting to ordinary believers the ability to share their faith effectively with nonbelievers. Note that all those who were scattered throughout Samaria proclaimed God’s Word to people. Evangelists are empowered by God to mobilise an army of believers to lead whole cities to salvation and into the deep joy of the Gospel.

One of the greatest weaknesses of the Western Church seems to be our inability as individuals to reach our non-Christian friends effectively and to lead them to Jesus. Maybe we’re just shy or nervous or embarrassed, but maybe it’s also that we are ill-equipped and therefore lacking confidence. Could it be that the ‘Ephesians 4 Evangelist’ is meant to be more than a visiting preacher who comes to preach at a guest service? Could it be that God is raising up gifted individuals who can equip the whole of Everyday Church to share our faith and to lead people to salvation with renewed confidence? God wants to gift us with leaders who can mobilise the whole of our church to share the Gospel and to see much spiritual fruit through this coronavirus crisis. Let’s pray for God to raise up many Evangelists who will preach the Gospel from platforms, but who will also equip all of us to evangelise on a daily basis.
1)   Do you agree that a weakness of the church in the West is our inability to share our faith with nonbelievers? How can Evangelists help us with this?

2)  Do you agree that we need to change our view of the ‘Ephesians 4 Evangelist’? Do you agree that we have pigeon-holed them into being big rally preachers, rather than people who equip us all to share the Gospel?

3)   How is Covid-19 changing your own heart towards the lost people around you, as they sink into increasing despair? Ask the Lord to increase your passion and your effectiveness in sharing the Gospel with those around you.
Father God, forgive me for the times when I have sat back and assumed that the task of sharing the Gospel with nonbelievers is for somebody other than me. Please would you raise up many Evangelists among us? Please gift Everyday Church with leaders who can equip people like me to be more confident in sharing our faith! Amen.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.
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