This isn’t a massive thing, but I’ve heard a couple of times people claiming that they’re not effective in witnessing to their friends because they don’t have the gift of evangelism. I’ve also heard (often the same) people saying that they’d like training in how to preach the gospel, but would really need the training to come from someone with this gift of evangelism.
Now, I wasn’t sure exactly what the characteristics of the spiritual gift of evangelism were, so I did a search for every word in the New Testament that derives from evangelism (evangelist, evangelised, etc) – this is what I came up with.
1. Philip the Evangelist
So in the book of Acts Philip is described as an evangelist (e.g. Acts 21:8), but this doesn’t actually say anything – I read some articles which said that Philip must have been gifted in preaching to unbelievers, but there’s no real evidence of mass conversion under his preaching – no more than, say, Peter, who saw 3,000 people added to the church in one day, and he’s not called an evangelist anywhere in Scripture. This is a non-starter.
2. Paul to Timothy
Paul instructs Timothy to ‘do the work of an evangelist’ in 2 Timothy 4:5, but again this isn’t much help. There’s no description here of what an evangelist’s work is, and all we really seem to know is that Timothy wasn’t one.
3. The Gift of Evangelists
Here’s the real key. Ephesians 4:11-12 says: ‘And [God] gave…the evangelists…to equip the saints for the work of ministry’. This is odd. Surely God would give the evangelists to preach the gospel? Or to see the lost saved? Or something? Evangelists aren’t there for Christians are they?
So it turns out that there’s no biblical basis whatsoever for any spiritual gift of evangelism. There are evangelists, but this is a leadership role in the same way that apostles and prophets have a specific leadership role – evangelists are given to the church to equip the saints.
Evangelism as a task isn’t a question of gifting, it’s a question of responsibility for all believers, and obedience to God. Are we ready to respond to His call?