“The helping of the wretched, and the saving them out of the earthly, hellish conditions in which such multitudes live, and the saving of souls of the people in larger numbers, and the organizing them when they are saved for still further victories, is the dream of almost every hour of my life.”
This week we’ve been looking at how the concept of skin in the game applies to the church.
Today, I want to look at how evangelists can have skin in the game.
For those of you who only think of loud preachers on television asking for money when you hear the word “evangelist,” let’s start with a definition. Evangelists are people who share the good news of Jesus with others with ease. Every Christian is called to be a witness to the greatness of Jesus. But not every Christian is called to be an evangelist. Evangelists are specially gifted to help people understand the Gospel and help other believers in the body of Christ share the Gospel. Most evangelists never get on camera or in front of a large crowd. Most quietly do their work of sharing the good news about Jesus in their homes, neighborhoods, and workplaces while helping the churches they are in get better at it as well.
While Evangelists love sharing the Gospel with lost people, they can have a tough time having skin in the game depending on their maturity level. Often evangelists are so at home with lost people that they are uncomfortable within the church. Church politics and religious veneers can frustrate evangelists who rightly understand that our emphasis should be on the good news of Jesus and getting it to the lost. Evangelists also sometimes struggle with discipling those that they lead to Jesus. Short conversations about the Gospel are easy for them. The long slog of helping a newly converted individual learn to follow Jesus over years of time is a lot harder for many evangelists.
So how do evangelists develop skin in the game?
The first thing evangelists should do is recognize that they need to be a meaningful part of the church. Even evangelists with traveling ministries should have long term relationships that function as church for them. The body is designed to need input from others with different gifts from ourselves. Evangelists are no exception.
But there’s another reason evangelists need to be involved with the church. The church needs them. As frustrating as the church can be at times, we need evangelists to pull us back to our call to be witnesses to the greatness of Jesus. This can be a frustrating process, but a mature evangelist knows they have much that benefits the church and will stay engaged in a church, not just for themselves, but for the good of the church. Remember, Paul tells us God gave us “evanglists…to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ,” (Ephesians 4:11-12).
Lastly, evangelists can have skin in the game by making disciples. One of the critical problems with evangelism is the lack of discipleship that often happens after a person has come to faith. Evangelists, as the people who have won someone to Christ, are natural candidates for discipling the new believers they have led to Christ. Some of these converts will naturally imitate their evangelistic mentors and become evangelists themselves. Others won’t and will struggle, and this is where a good partnership with pastors and teachers will help an evangelist struggling with discipleship. Regardless, it does us no good to lead someone in a prayer to receive Christ but not teach them how to follow Him. Remember, our commission is to make disciples, not converts.
Evangelists need the church. The church needs evangelists. But the greatest truth is that lost humanity needs evangelists with skin in the game.
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Some of you aren’t good at sharing your faith. You are fearful. You have a hard to bringing up Jesus in conversations. When you do,it’s muddled.
I understand. I’ve been there.
There are two things that I think every believer should understand about sharing their faith.
The first is that, with some exceptions, most of you were the best at sharing your faith when you knew the least about Jesus, Christianity, and theology. It was your fresh love for Jesus and the wonder of being saved at all that motivated you to tell your friends, co-workers, anyone who would listen about how great Jesus is. Did you lose that? If you did, it’s time to get it back. Growing in Jesus shouldn’t take away the wonder. If you grew away from the wonder of Jesus, maybe you grew in the wrong direction.
The other thing is that growing in sharing the good news takes time. Don’t get frustrated if the first, second, and third times don’t go well. Press on. Sharing your faith is a muscle you strengthen over time. You don’t set a resolution on New Year’s Eve to get in shape and wake up on January 2nd with a ripped body. You set a goal, work towards it, and slowly see improvement. John Wimber used to say you couldn’t say God didn’t heal today until you prayed for 100 people and nothing happened. I would submit to you that you can’t say you’re not good at evangelism until you shared the Gospel 100 times and nothing happens. In the mean time, pray, get closer to Jesus, get around some people who will support you in this journey. You will get better.
I’ve been doing this for the last couple of years, and finally, after a lot of ups and downs, I’m starting to get good at sharing the Gospel. No one’s come to faith (yet), but I’m somewhat regularly sharing in a way that I know connects to the hearts of people around me.
You can, too, if you don’t give up.