|I've been thinking and observing the role of evangelism in ministry and I have some questions and thoughts. Certainly I would like to know yours' also. Since it's what I'm most familiar with, I'll use the Evangelical Covenant Church as an example and paint with some broad strokes from there.|
It seems that the day of the general associate pastor has passed. Very rarely are there associate pastors anymore, who do whatever the senior pastor assigns him/her or doesn't want to do. Everyone is a specialist now. If you are not a solo or senior pastor, you are hired for a specific duty, such as discipleship, spiritual/Christian formation, youth pastor, worship pastor/leader, gen x pastor, children and/or family ministries pastor, adult ministries pastor, senior adult ministries pastor, executive pastor, small groups pastor, teaching pastor, missions pastor, outreach pastor, etc. Of course there are many who make up their titles as they create unique positions: media pastor, women's or men's ministry pastor, minister of compassion and justice, etc.
There are almost no Evangelism Pastors, and when there are, they are always lumped with something else, i.e. Minister of Evangelism & Discipleship. My formal title is Associate Pastor of Evangelism and Youth Ministries. There are very few pure bred Evangelism Pastors, but even less, just plain Evangelist. It seems that everyone who is an Evangelist works for a para-church organization or makes up their own ministry.
Honest question: Do you know of a church with an Evangelist on staff? Let's take it a step up the food chain, do you know any denomination that has an Evangelist on staff? Perhaps a Director of Evangelism but what about an Evangelist? Anyone? Buehler? Now in the Covenant, we recognize there are people with the gift of evangelism and we call on them for special events, but they primarily have other jobs.
There's an assumption behind all this. It is assumed, or more likely imagined, that evangelism is incorporated into all those other roles. Pastors of Adult Ministries occasionally teach a Contagious Christianity course. Youth Pastors teach their teens how to lead another person to Christ or will likely do evangelism with youth. The Small Groups pastor teaches the small groups leaders to have an "empty chair" for a new person to become involved. And preaching or senior pastors are must know how to proclaim the gospel and give an invitation.
I think it is also assumed that every lay person can be or is supposed to be involved in evangelism or be a witness, but not everyone can lead worship or small groups or youth ministry. So we hire specialists for there areas that require and generally leave evangelism to everyone or a certain church committee.
Now despite the fact that some believe there is an official office listed in the Scripture for that of Evangelist and NOT for youth, worship or small groups pastor, I don't exactly think this is wrong. But I just wonder ...
What would the church look like if we had a paradigm shift, and we hired Evangelists or Evangelism Pastors as a priority BEFORE we hired youth or media pastors. There are plenty of stories of people who volunteered to lead the youth group and then became the youth pastor. What if we started raising up evangelists like that? What if we found those people with the gift of evangelism and began training them further. Then we got creative and developed a host of different opportunities for them to proclaim Christ and call people to faith, i.e. affinity events, or evangelistic small groups, or festivals, etc. What if our churches began developing a cadre of evangelists? They could lead evangelistic ministry teams in our communities attempting to reach every segment of the population.
Now as I type this, I don't really even believe it could happen. My mind keeps saying, what about ... what if ... how could we .... etc. Is there enough work for them? Would they peter out like the Alpha courses that churches do, which start big and eventually they run out of people to attend? Do we believe that anyone is gifted enough to be a local evangelist? Do we even believe the role of the evangelist is even culturally appropriate?
OK. So hiring evangelists is far out. But what about pastors of evangelism whose primary job is training personal evangelists in the church, creating servant evangelism teams, leading Alpha courses, etc. What if our churches started hiring for these positions first, and kept our youth, small group, visitation, media all volunteer led or hired for them secondarily? What would our churches look like?
I'm just wondering how our churches would look different if when hiring staff, we hired evangelists and pastors of evangelism first and then other positions second. What do you think would happen? I honestly don't know and I'm just wondering out loud. I'd love to hear your opinion.