Christ set out to aggressively meet the many needs of people—spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally. When He left this earth, He gave this mission to His disciples.
Today, we might call this ministering, and so we hire professional ministers to do the work. I am convinced this is why churches seem so uninterested in evangelism. Many churches expect their pastors to do the work of ministry. I've been told that as a pastor.
The great question, here, is “Why are we not obedient to the Great Commission?” Before you feel that I am placing all the blame on the senior pastor and his seminary, allow me to shed some clarity on where I am going with this. I have often wondered if we have professionalized the role of the pastor to the point where we expect far too much of him.
Take a drive through a large town, like Houston, and you’ll see billboards advertising local churches. Whose picture might you see? If you guessed “the senior pastor,” you’re correct. The senior pastor is the face of the local church. Everything is based on him. Nothing can get done without him. Churches come to a screeching halt when a pastor leaves until the search committee hires a new one.
If you conducted a survey in your church to find what people desired most out of their senior pastor, I’m willing to bet the results would show your church would like to hire Jesus, the Messiah. This makes much sense to me because there are people in your church. There are those who hurt emotionally and need a counselor. Those who suffer need someone to offer peace. Those who are confused need an instructor, and those who are down need encouragement.
Then, there are sick people who need to be visited in the hospital. There are singles who get married, marriages to be saved, and the dead need to be buried. Then there are the sermons. The people need deep, practical, persuasive, powerful, calm, meaningful, emotional, and convicting sermons…every Sunday. They need someone who can lead with grace, energy, and victory.
In other words, the people in the local church need a professional teacher, preacher, trainer, counselor, comforter, administrator, leader, and so on. And we tend to look to one man to offer all the above. Perhaps we have forgotten who Christ gave to the Church “to equip the saints to do the work of ministry.”
And then we come to evangelism. Just another item to add to his list of professions?
Here is what Paul stated in Ephesians 4:11-13,
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
Basically, the apostles and prophets were used as the foundational builders of the Church (as seen in Acts), and then there are pastors, teachers, and evangelists. We see many pastors and teachers in churches today, but where are the evangelists Christ gave? Has our Head ceased in supplying evangelists in churches to continue to edify the body to reach the maturity of which Paul spoke?
I do not believe Christ has ceased in giving His Church evangelists. I believe they are all over the place, and many of them are working. However, they are not popular. They don’t have pictures on billboards, or business cards to hand out to people. They may not have master’s degrees or doctorates. They probably don’t have offices inside buildings. But the evangelists are out there. They are in your church. I wonder how many there are in your church, but who have not become evident because evangelism is not the desired answer to the ever popular question: What will it take to pack out our building on Sunday morning?
It appears in Scripture that the office of the evangelist was just as important as the office of the pastor and teacher. I am not suggesting churches ought to spend extra money and put mug shots of evangelists next to the senior pastor. And I'm certainly suggesting popularity. In fact, I am not suggesting anything, save the one principle that to Christ, evangelism was equally as important as the preaching of the Scriptures.
Yet, we tend to bank everything in the local church on one human being—the senior pastor. We recognize that office, but neglect the office of the evangelist in the local church. More often than not, the senior pastor is not gifted in evangelism, and rightly so. He is gifted in teaching, or leading, or something else that the majority of the people sought for when they hired him. He is gifted by the Holy Spirit to properly teach God’s Word, or lead with enthusiasm, or administer with grace.
I’m convinced our churches do not evangelize because the evangelists are not evident. And the evangelists can lead others to effectively bring the holistic gospel to the nations. This is being obedient to our Head who gave the evangelist to His Body.