Q. I have been a Believer for many years (several decades, actually), and have sat under the Church’s teaching on evangelism feeling condemned for not “doing my part” in the Great Commission. To tell you the truth, I can not recall praying with anyone to lead them to the Savior.
Several years ago, I experienced an extreme personal revival through which time I came to love and “thirst” after Jesus like never before. It was like a consuming thing – so intense that I thought that I would explode. While this intensity has subsided (can’t imagine anyone living in that for very long), I have been permanently changed. During that time, the LORD challenged many of my religious ideas, one of which is the carrying out of the “Great Commission”. There are many individuals within the Church who are driven by their gift of evangelism. While every Believer is a Light-bearer and should be ready to give a reason for the hope within them, not all have the gift of evangelism where they see the LORD work them them to bring people to Himself.
I believe that I have a gift of teaching and used to get so frustrated with fellow-Believers that they don’t have a clear understand or love for the Bible. I see now that I was being driven by my gift of teaching in the same manner as the evangelist.
The Church today seems to be in a cycle where the key thrust is to “reach the lost”. I recall that several years ago, the thrust was a deeper relationship with God. Could it be that we Believers tend to emphasize our passion/gifts (whether witnessing, teaching, helps, etc) as the most important function of the Church, leaving each other bruised as a result?
A. Just as not all evangelists are also teachers, so not all teachers are also evangelists. 1 Cor. 12:7-11 tells us that the Holy Spirit distributes gifts through out the church as He determines for the common good. Each believer should strive to discover his or her gift (Romans 12:1-2) and then find a way to express it for the good of the body.
I agree that each of us should be prepared to discuss and explain the source of our faith whenever asked to do so, but not everyone is called to be an evangelist. And yes, the Church often makes the mistake of emphasizing the importance of one gift over another. That’s why 1 Cor. 12-14 were written.