We are not all called as evangelists

We are all called to make disciples. But we are not all called as evangelists.ย There is a distinction.

The Great Commission states:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.โ€ Amen (Matthew 28:19-20, NKJV).

Note two things. First, it says “make disciples,” not “make converts.” Second, Jesus was speaking to people who had been discipled. (He wasn’t telling someone who had just started following Him to start discipling others.)

Ephesians 4:11-12 states:

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (KJV).

I Corinthians 12:28 offers a similar list, enumerating several other gifts:

And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues (KJV).

Let’s set aside the debate over whether the gifts of miracles, healings, tongues, and apostleship are still active in the church today. That’s a discussion for another day (or an open thread!) Let’s focus on the point of these passages: God calls different members of the body of Christ to different roles. Some of us are called to be evangelists. Others are called to be teachers. Others are called to helps and governments, helping the administrative aspects of the church’s mission run smoothly.

We’re not all called to helps and governments. Some of us couldn’t coordinate an NQC evening program to save our life, let alone a children’s Christmas play. We’re not all called to be teachers; some of us thrive under the opportunity to preach the Gospel, while others are petrified to be standing in front of an audience.

And we’re not all called to be evangelists. Yes, God calls some of us to be the next street preacher or the next Luis Palau. (And yes, some who have that calling are hesitant to exercise it.)

We are all, however, called to take new Christians under our wings, walk alongside them, and disciple them.

God has a place for those unforgettable souls who never knew a stranger and can strike up a conversation with drying paint. But there is alsoย room and a role for the shy and the introverts in the Kingdom of God.

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28 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. As an introvert, I so appreciate this post. Thank you.

    • You’re welcome!

  2. Well what a surprise! I’m with ya. Furthermore, evangelism without discipleship is shameful on (at least within the context of community). Interesting wording on The Great Commission. “Go” is a participle of attendant circumstance in the Greek, and is mostly implied. It’s correct, but it’s tricky.

    Many people have translated that “as you go…make disciples”, which yes…you should do, but grammatically, that wasn’t the intention. Which means, the main point is not to go, but to make disciples to the nations.

    Nations won’t hear the Gospel unless people don’t go. But, nothing substantial will ever come of it unless they are made disciples. Evangelism without discipleship is scary. So you’re right on the money.

    • Evangelism without discipleship has been the Achilles heel of American Christianity.

      • Very true …

  3. Good post, Daniel.

    I might add that all of us are called to be evangelists as well…keeping in mind that evangelism is not limited to preaching or testifying verbally all the time.

    As Christians, our lives are meant to be a witness to a lost and nonbelieving world. After all, as the saying goes, we might be “…the only Bible some people ever read.”

    • I would make a distinction between evangelize and called to be evangelists.

      We are all called to make disciples, and unless it’s a situation where someone sowed, another watered, etc., yes, that process starts with sharing the Gospel.

      But the gift / calling of evangelism is a specific calling which God gives some and not others.

  4. This isn’t meant to be offensive so please don’t take it that way…

    How does this post relate to SG? To me this appears to be a random theology post which has nothing to do with any current happenings in the industrt

    • This is a news and commentary site, so don’t be surprised to see commentary on pertinent issues from time to time. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I am curious Daniel, was there something specific that prompted you to write this post?

      • Several things.

        First, this topic came up in a recent real-life discussion with a friend who seems to think that every Christian is called as an evangelist.

        Second, and perhaps more pertinent, the discussion over Calvinism and Arminianism took a side track of altar calls last week. That got me to thinking about if every group needs to give altar calls – and if every group needs to focus on evangelism. If so, do we need to limit participation in SG’s singing ranks (or at least emcee ranks) to the percentage of the church that has that gift?

  5. Sorry. That was supposed to be industry.

  6. Thanks. Just asking.

    It seems to me this a Daniel J. Mount sight so you can make it a all J.D. Sumner (ugh) all the time sight if you would like ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I’m not sure I follow. (?)

      I have no intention of being acerbic.

      • Acerbic? Are you speaking in tongues Daniel? ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ J/K

        I’ve enjoyed the thread. I’ve always said, “God doesn’t confine us to a box, and He doesn’t want to be put in one either.” He takes what we have and uses it for His glory.

      • Yes, sir! English!

  7. Thanks so much for this post today. It is for me a reinforcement of something that has been percolating since I read Ernie Haase’s comments in his e-mail last week regarding the song Doug Anderson performs, “I’ll Take What’s Left” . . . the broken pieces, the mess you think you’ve made of things and He builds something beautiful.

    I’ve been thinking about that a lot and God put the opportunity before me Saturday night to pay a young man’s Student Bill to Bible College for the semester–which I did today. Exercising the gift of “helps”. I do feel at this point in my life that is a gift God has given me–the resources to help Him answer the prayers of others.

    • Ruth, that is an excellent example of the body of Christ working together. Different people have different roles, and if they are faithful to those roles, then the work goes on and the Gospel moves forward!

  8. Interesting So what about “and He gave some singers” where is that? Is anyone called to sing? Is everyone called to sing? Just curious on what your opinion is on this Daniel.

    • SOP, I believe that the presuppositions (assumptions) underlying that question involve a level of confusion between the calling and the methods/tools used to accomplish that calling.

      God calls some to be teachers. They’re teachers whether they teach behind a pulpit, write a blog post, share an iTunes podcast, or craft a doctrinally instructive song lyric.

      God calls others to be evangelists. They’re evangelists whether they are sharing the Gospel on a street corner, in a stadium, over dinner with a neighbor, or through song in a concert.

      God gives others the gift of helps. They might be the ones vacuuming church before the service, making meals for a shut-in or a new mom, or quietly funding an evangelist or a teacher’s ministry.

      And the list goes on! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Ok. I understand, but you’re saying we are not all called to be evangelist, so you would agree that not all are called to be singers? I personally don’t think God has called anyone to sing, but I do believe He has called us all to share the Gospel, preach the gospel, tell the Gospel, and do something for the spreading of the Gospel, not just sit around on our blessed assurance and do nothing, or for the arminian side sit around a bite our finger nails. I think we worry to much about the “call” instead of just keying in on the gifts/talents God has given us and using those to spread the Gospel, but wouldn’t that make us all evangelist? A person who seeks to convert people to Christianity.

    • I’m intrigued; although this discussion distinctly isn’t subtle, you did hit on a point I was subtly making.

      Not every singer has the calling of an evangelist. Perhaps some singers are called as teachers, and have a role of teaching the Church through what they sing.

      • Again, I understand and I don’t want you to think I’m arguing cause I’m a huge fan of what you do for Christian music, but I also think even your blog site itself can be a form of evangelism. Which in theory would make you an evangelist, even though you probably wouldn’t consider yourself to be one. My point for now is that there is NO WAY that a Christian can sit back and not share the gospel in some shape or form, if he or she truly knows what he or she has. They might be shy, or laid back, or quiet about the things of the Lord but let them have a garage sale, and they’ll try to sell and talk people into buying all the junk they have, or if someone has a great recipe they want to share it etc. etc. etc. but when it comes to sharing the Savior they clam up. This fad in Christianity over the last 25 years has really hurt the church. Notice I’m not even talking about issues (sin) I’m just talking about sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

      • I consider my primary calling to be a teacher (and I suspect that shows in the sorts of posts I write), though, as I said in the original post, we are all called to make disciples.

  10. Would you say the Great Commission is a directive that was given to the corporate church or to individuals? Or both?

    I would say both, but I would lean more toward corporate.

    • I agree – both, with the emphasis on corporate. For the Gospel to go forward, the church needs some people in support roles.

      Put in the context of American church culture, the janitor is as necessary as the pastor. Yes, the pastor is more visible, but take out the janitor, or anyone doing it, and the pastor’s work will be hindered over time!

      • Exactly…so, I would counter the main point of your post with the observation that we are all called to make disciples in the same sense that we’re all called to baptize the nations, etc. It’s primarily a corporate context.

        As individuals, we can aspire to educate our fellow Christians on how to be better disciples of Christ, but some are more gifted to do that than others…just as some are more gifted to be evangelists, preachers, teachers, deacons, etc.

  11. Paul deals with the singing aspect in Ephesians 5:19 which deals with keeping a song in our heart. Then in Colossians 3:16 Paul admonishes us to teach one another songs and singing. So I guess we learn and then teach. What category of ministry this falls under is a personal interpretation. Sometimes I think we get so caught up in specialized religious training we become spiritual trench diggers that we can’t ceawl out of.