Monday, March 06, 2006

Who is an evangelist?

This one came in through email.
Ephesians 4:11 tells us that "He gave some as evangelists." But, it seems clear to me that the work of evangelism is intended for all believers. How do we reconcile these ideas? And why then, is evangelism commonly listed as a spiritual gift if it is not given to all Christians, but all Christians are to do it?


Craver VII said...

Maybe that's a lot of question in just a little space. How about this...
I have seen that spiritual gift lists differ. Since it is a mandate for all believers, is it possible that evangelism is not a spiritual gift at all?
I may not be ready to die on this hill, but I tend to think that if Christians act whenever they see a need, that the spiritual gifts do not need to be sought out, and we do not need to make much of these lists. The gifts God chooses to give will be made apparent as we make the most of every opportunity in our daily lives.

David A. Zimmerman said...

We're also called, by Paul no less, to seek the greater gifts (1 Cor 12:31). So there is a sense at least in which we're to seek spiritual gifts.

Of course, there's a subversion of "gifts" built into the concept of spiritual gifts: they're given by God to believers in service to the church and as a witness to the world. So they're not "gifts" in the same sense that the Barbie-Doll nunchucks I gave my niece for her birthday are "gifts": whereas Olivia would never willingly share her gifts with her little sister, our gifts are given through us to the people of God.

So maybe evangelism is counted among the spiritual gifts both because it's so unnatural that it has to be commanded, and because it so purely manifests the spirit behind the gifts--the gift of evangelism doesn't reward hoarding; through the gift of evangelism, people are given the gift of grace.

Anonymous said...

Here is the way I view it. Yes, we're all called to evangelize, but not everyone is called to be a missionary or be the next Billy that are considered being "evangelists." There's a separation and difference with it. God has given some to be those things. I can evangelize without being an evangelist...if that makes any sense.