It’s not unusual for me to hear people talk about evangelism as a spiritual gift. I’ve done so myself.
Because I love to teach on personal evangelism and help others to share their faith, people sometimes say that I have the gift of evangelism. Barna released some research saying, “Among the interesting facets of the research was that just 1% of believers claim to have the gift of evangelism (down from 4% five years ago).”
If I’m good at it and like to do it, does that make evangelism a spiritual gift?
A reader asks asks a great question:
What if I don’t have the gift of evangelism?
Evangelism is not in the lists of gifts.
In the lists of spiritual gifts we find in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12-14, evangelism is not specifically mentioned, so how might we call evangelism a spiritual gift.
1. It’s implied.
One argument might be that evangelism could be a specific example of a type of prophesy gift found in Romans 12:6:
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with yourfaith.
One might be able to say that prophesy is the verbal sharing of God’s truth for today. Evangelism could a specific form of that. Preaching could a specific form of that. Perhaps certain types of counseling and encouragement might fit under that. If someone is skilled in the specific application of the gift of prophesy, then perhaps it could be labeled a spiritual gift.
2. It is the gifting (skill set) of the Evangelist
In Ephesians 4:11, it says that God gave the church (gift): the apostle, the prophet, the Evangelist, pastor and teacher. The Evangelist is a ROLE in the church, or what some traditions would call, an OFFICE. The church is equipped with Evangelists.
Evangelists are skilled in sharing their faith, passionate about leading others to Jesus, and help the church and her members grow in the skills of personal and congregational evangelism.
3. Non-Exhaustive lists, so Paul didn’t exclude it.
One could argue that the Bible doesn’t give an exhaustive list of spiritual gifts. Perhaps the lists that Paul gives us are simply a reflection of the gifts he sought to address in a particular context.
Since no one in Corinth was abusing a gift of music, it’s not in the list.
4. We speak of giftedness, so that might imply a spiritual gift.
We speak of someone as gifted with music, poetry, craftsmanship or some other skill that people are good at.
I’ve heard people say, “She has the gift of music” so she leads the church in singing. You might say that your intercessors are gifted in prayer. You might know people who are gifted in deliverance ministry.
But giftedness might simply be a way we describe people really talented in that area. Perhaps they have studied it, mastered it through practice, and we are simply impressed at the beauty of what they do.
I might be making a subtle distinction, but the way we use “giftedness” doesn’t always point to evidence of a spiritual gift not mentioned in the New Testament. To say that evangelism is a gift because one is skilled at it (gifted) might be an argument from silence.
Sadly, some people may simply absolve themselves of personal evangelism because it is not their gift. They have the gift of mercy, of exhortation, of giving, or what have you. I’ve not personally encountered people who throw this at me as an excuse.
I believe this is a call to all believers to go forth and make disciples of the all the nations (Matt. 28:16-20).
You cannot hide behind the claim “I don’t have that gift.” Nor can you become jealous of those who are a little more skilled or comfortable with talking about their faith.
Rather, you need to find the way that evangelism works for you and then do it. It might take several clumsy attempts, but with each conversational encounter, you’ll improve if you take the time to learn and debrief. You might need to learn more about your style of evangelism and then grow in it.
When we receive the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we can be witnesses (Acts 1:8). We are all called to be witnesses.
So grow in your skills. Overcome your fears. Begin to find ways to do evangelism in the ordinary course of life.
If you want to read more about how I do evangelism, check out this tutorial.
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Let me ask you this?
Do you think Evangelism is a spiritual gift? Or am I out in left field? Leave your answer in the comment field below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.