I was recently at an excellent CEEC day on evangelism. Lots of great things were shared during the day, but I was personally struck by one comment, from one of the speakers, based on 2 Tim 4:5. In short, he challenged those of us who are church leaders to ‘lead as if we were evangelists’. Of course, we may not be gifted evangelists (I’m not), nor may we even be very willing evangelists (it varies in my life). But, Paul in 2 Timothy 4:5 calls us to an act of sanctified imagination – and even temporary godly impersonation. He wants us to hold out before the ourselves ‘the work of an evangelist’ and pursue it.

Let’s consider what this might mean. Just imagine for a moment that you and I were fiery, determined evangelists…how might we live?

  • a large proportion of our time would be spent with unbelievers,
  • we would want to know how those unbelievers think, feel and believe what they believe,
  • we would study how to persuade people with the gospel, and then we would do some persuading,
  • we would be marked by a restless desire to see people born again,
  • our minds would focus on all the people who aren’t in church – rather than all the people who are,
  • we would ‘hassle’ and train other believers until they got involved with us in evangelism,
  • our prayers would be pleading for people who don’t yet know Christ.

Whatever our gifting as evangelists, we can live like one. After all, we have a gospel. We know that this gospel is to be proclaimed. And, we know that we are called to proclaim it. Not only will this impact unbelievers around us, but the very act of doing this work will be a powerful act of spiritual leadership. The model of a minister-doing-the-work-of-an-evangelist will profoundly shape the culture and values of our congregations.

So, it might be worth pausing for a moment and taking stock. Am I actually doing this work? Here are a few self-evaluation questions to help us reflect.

  • When did I, as a leader, last share the gospel with an unbeliever – or lead anyone to faith?
  • How restless do I feel about the non-presence in my church of thousands of unbelievers around me?
  • When did someone last become a follower of Christ in my congregation?
  • What percentage of my congregation have been converted in the ministry?
  • How much do I enable church gatherings to include and connect with unbelievers?
  • How much of the corporate prayer in my church is focused on unbelieving community, city and contacts?

Of course, we and our churches fall short, and, of course, we need grace for our shortcomings. Yet, wouldn’t it be great if we could be making progress with this? We want to reach our nation, and our leadership in evangelism matters. The stakes are just too high to procrastinate.