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Growing Evangelists
reprinted from the September 2002 edition of Essentials

  While all believers have a role to play in spreading the gospel, there will be some who have a special aptitude for it. These individuals pepper local churches but, sadly, they often remain underutilised, languishing for lack of encouragement. Kim Hawtrey is director of Impact Evangelism in Sydney.

Used with permission from Impact Bulletin July - September 2002 (

  It is incumbent on each local congregation to recognise that in its very midst are folk who, alongside pastors and teachers, God has given to be 'evangelists' (Ephesians 4:11).
  How can we nurture the ministry of our local evangelists, to the benefit of our congregation and to the glory of God?
  First, each local church needs to regularly pray for its evangelists to emerge.
  This is in obedience to our Lord's command in Matthew chapter nine to "pray the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest". The harvest is so great, more labourers are constantly needed, yet they do not automatically materialise. We are told to pray, because in the sovereign purposes of the Almighty it is pleasing to God when we call upon him to fulfil his promises in Christ and bring people into his salvation plan.
  Second, churches should look to spot their evangelists. We need to identify them, at least informally. Budding evangelists will possess a burden and ability to reach the unsaved world around them. They will have a deep, God-given concern for the souls of men, women and children in their surrounding suburb. And an effective means of reaching them. These traits they will have in common.  
  Yet they will not all be clones.  
  One will be a school scripture teacher, another a 9-to-5 witness at work, another a quiet friend who gets alongside neighbours, another a door knocker. Not all will be public preachers.  
  Third, churches should equip their homegrown evangelists. This involves training and direction, as well as providing a supportive fellowship.  
  Exposure to a variety of experiences, participating in courses on evangelism, and receiving constructive feedback will all help the evangelist develop. While evangelists possess certain gifts, these need to be honed.  
  Taking an interest in his or her ministry, helping them process setbacks and giving encouraging comment are all part of the vital support that others can offer. Because evangelism, by its very nature is difficult, evangelists need heaps of regular encouragement.  
  Perhaps it might even mean sending them to Bible college.  
  Finally, churches should use their evangelists. This will not only reach the lost, it will benefit the whole congregation. In Ephesians 4, Paul says God has given apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers "for building up the body of Christ". By growing evangelists, the congregation itself grows.  
  It also has the added benefit of encouraging the often overburdened pastor/teacher. Talking to young pastors, C.H. Spurgeon once said that 'sound and prudent evangelists may lend help even to the most efficient pastor, and gather in fruit which he has failed to reach'. This picture of partnership between the pastor and the evangelist is one part of the solution to today's widespread problem of minister 'burnout'.  
  Incredibly, churches can easily overlook their evangelists. There is a constant 'gravitational pull' that favours maintenance over mission, frequently resulting in the local church neglecting outreach.  
  One way to combat this tendency is to recognise evangelists and utilise them as an integral part of the core business of the church.  
  Growing more local evangelists is a 'must do'; a task that is ongoing. The spiritual need is so great, and the plight of lost men and women in our community so pressing, that we dare not overlook the resources God has given.  
  Kim Hawtrey.  

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