I was a broken, suicidal, religious, 21-year-old man without purpose, direction or hope. I was lost spiritually. I was lost emotionally. I was completely lost in every sense of the word. Raised in a great church, I had been exposed to some of the best preaching imaginable, yet I never could relate to the sermons or the great orators delivering them. Like masses do every year, I moved out of the church the same day I moved out of my parents’ home. I never planned on returning.
That was until two years later when an evangelist came to town.
I was invited to attend what was billed as a unique service where he would be sharing his story—a story that included attempting suicide. I saw a commercial promoting his arrival, and he seemed different—relatable and understandable. My interest was peaked, and I felt an unexplainable draw to attend. That night, I didn’t get to hear his testimony, but I did get to hear the gospel presented in an anointed way I had never before heard. Along with dozens of others, I received Christ and a brand new life.
I had attended what was known in those days as a crusade, evangelistic outreaches held by a majority of churches several times each and every year. They were not only en vogue at the time, but they were also exciting, fresh and powerful; the most successful were headlined by a full-time evangelist.
It was a time when people didn’t just talk about evangelism—they actually did it. It was a season when evangelists were seen for exactly what they were: gifted servants ordained by God to assist the church and inspire others to proclaim the gospel to the unsaved. I am a firm believer that God wouldn’t have given the gift of the evangelist to the church unless we needed it.
Today, I serve as a full-time evangelist, but many pastors I encounter tell me I am the first evangelist they have ever invited to preach. They often say they were unaware of both the need and benefit that this unique gifting would fulfill in their congregation.
Here are seven reasons why every church needs an evangelist:
1. An evangelist is specifically anointed to draw people who have yet to receive Christ. Evangelists are not always the best or most charismatic preacher, but like Phillip or Peter, they have a special gift from God to connect to those who are non-believers.
2. An evangelist will stoke the fire in those who already know Christ. There is something exciting, refreshing and inspiring about seeing new birth. Who doesn’t rejoice at the physical delivery of a new son or daughter or the spiritual birth of a friend or co-worker? Witnessing unusual numbers of people meet Jesus inspires as nothing else can.
3. An evangelist will inspire and challenge other believers to obey the Great Commission to seek and save those who are lost. Very few believers ever share their faith with those in their social spheres. As a result, many churches dwindle or have little impact on those outside their walls.
4. An evangelist will equip and train others to share their faith. Many Christ followers don’t share the gospel because they don’t know how. Exposing the church to those who spend their lives reaching out to the unsaved allows church members to learn biblical, creative and effective ways to evangelize.
5. An evangelist will engage new participation from church members who previously may have never been in a serving role through volunteering as spiritual advisors and counselors. The most effective evangelistic organizations have a simple, biblical, easy-to-follow training system that will aid the process and cultivate participation.
6. An evangelist has a specialized gift and will not only call the unsaved, but also those who have already met Jesus, to a new and deeper level of repentance. When the faith of many believers starts to grow cold and indifferent, evangelistic preaching can be the catalyst that ignites and challenges them toward a deeper and more faithful surrender to Christ.
7. An evangelist will bring a new voice, new insights and new exposure to the church and gospel within a community. Oftentimes, an evangelist’s preaching is within the context of a unique event such as a family extravaganza, outdoor expo or wild-game feast. These outreaches are attractive to those outside the church and will help bring in community members who might not otherwise walk through the doors on a Sunday morning.
In today’s culture, there are very few in full-time evangelism. Many have been starved out, or are now serving in ministry roles that are not aligned with their primary gifting.
However, there are still numbers of anointed, gifted, passionate and emboldened evangelists longing to help pastors and churches touch the nerve of their cities and congregations for Jesus.
God gave the church the gift of evangelists because he knew we needed it. Pastors, church members, church staff, the saved and unsaved all need to be exposed to this gift, so they can not only be encouraged but also help the lost and hurting discover the only hope of this world—the gospel.