Go into all the world and make disciples of every nation.
1 Peter 3:15
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
Evangelism is the promotion or act of publicly preaching the Gospel with the intention of spreading the message and teachings of Jesus Christ. Christians who specialize in evangelism are often known as evangelists, whether they are in their home communities or living as missionaries in the field.
Why should I evangelize?
To evangelize means to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with someone else. Personal evangelism should be the lifestyle of every true Christian. We’ve been given a great gift, and our Master left us with clear instructions: “Go into all the world and make disciples of every nation” (Matthew 28:19). Before we can “make disciples,” we must evangelize. There are other reasons, besides Jesus’ command, that should also motivate us to share the greatest news in the world with people who haven’t heard it:
1. Evangelism is an act of love. Love must be the defining characteristic of every follower of Jesus Christ (John 13:35; 1 Corinthians 13:1–7). It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, so anyone who walks in the Spirit will demonstrate love in dealing with people (Galatians 5:16, 22–23). We possess the best news in the world, and love propels us to share it with those who haven’t heard. Love wants everyone to have a chance to respond to God’s offer of salvation. Withholding news that could save someone’s life is the utmost cruelty; therefore, those who truly love God will love the people whom Jesus came to save (John 3:16–18; 1 John 4:20).
2. Evangelism builds our own faith. Nothing helps us learn a subject like teaching it to someone else. When we make a practice of sharing our faith with those in our lives, we strengthen our own beliefs. Regular evangelism forces us to wrestle through the hard questions, find answers for ourselves, and prepare to respond to the questions of others. We should “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). We prepare by studying God’s Word for ourselves, listening to sound Bible teachers, and staying in close fellowship with Jesus. Those practices keep our own lives pure so that we are not hypocrites who preach one thing but do another (Galatians 6:1).
3. Evangelism provides eternal benefits. Jesus encouraged His followers to “store up treasure in heaven” (Matthew 6:19). That treasure consists of rewards for what we did on earth in His name and for His glory. It is not self-centered to make choices that will ensure eternal treasure for ourselves. Jesus told us to! Our service to Him can be as simple as offering a cup of cold water to one of His own (Matthew 10:42). The parable of the unjust steward underscores the importance of doing whatever we can to bring people to faith in Christ (Luke 16:1–13).
4. Evangelism is an overflow of the “hope that is within us” (Hebrews 6:19; 1 Peter 3:15). When two people fall in love, they cannot help but let everyone around them know it. Joy shows on their faces; stars glitter in their eyes. They are eager to tell anyone who will listen about the wonderful person they love. So it is when we’ve fallen in love with Jesus. We cannot help but tell people about Him every chance we get. We think about Him all the time. We’re drawn to His Word, to worship services, and to others who love Him. We look for opportunities to share His truth with someone who is far from Him. If Jesus is not at the forefront of our minds, we have a spiritual problem and need to address that first before we can share the “hope that is within us.”
5. Evangelism pleases the Lord. The Christian life must never be lived according to “shoulds.” Yet we hear that word often in relation to Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, and other Christian practices. “I should do that, but . . .” The but is a bigger problem than we want to admit. God’s children will naturally want to please their Heavenly Father; it is their greatest delight. So our compass is set with God at true north. In everything we do, we feel the magnetic pull toward pleasing God. Even mundane tasks can be completed with joy because we are doing what God has given us to do (1 Corinthians 10:31; 2 Corinthians 5:9). Teaching other people how to have a relationship with Jesus is one way to please Him. And in pleasing Him we are most fulfilled (Galatians 2:20).
What does the Bible say about the role of evangelism / outreach pastors?
The role of the pastor who specializes in evangelism and/or outreach varies widely from church to church. The person who engages in evangelism and outreach should first be gifted by the Holy Spirit in these areas and that gifting should be clear to both the pastor and those he serves. Ephesians 4:7-8 and 11-13 state, “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: ‘When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive,…And gave gifts to men.’ And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Whatever the role and duties of the evangelism/outreach pastor, his primary goal should be to equip others for service within the body of Christ.
A pastor who specializes in evangelism may go out into the community himself, perhaps in a door-to-door ministry, sharing the gospel of Christ with all he meets and inviting them to church. He may conduct regular evangelistic crusades or meetings in other areas for the goal of spreading the gospel and calling others to Christ. The evangelism pastor uses the biblical method of evangelism, sharing both the bad news of sin and judgment and the good news of salvation from sin through the shed blood of Christ at Calvary.
Outreach is another function of the evangelism/outreach pastor that can have many facets. The outreach pastor may be in charge of reaching out in a practical sense to those in the church with special needs, such as widows who need help with home maintenance and repair, single mothers who need childcare help, the unemployed, the homeless, etc. The outreach pastor may have a staff of volunteers he can call upon to help identify and meet those needs. Outreach can also be another word for discipleship. Some outreach pastors meet regularly with young people in the church to help them grow to spiritual maturity. He may conduct formal Bible studies or simply meet over a meal to come alongside and encourage them.
Again, whatever the individual duties of the evangelism/outreach pastor, his primary role is “to prepare God’s 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” (Ephesians 4:12-13).