The image of an evangelist is often one of someone standing on either a stage or street corner. They may be holding a black floppy bible. As I wrote when I was exploring ‘what is an evangelist?‘, this is far from the truth. You don’t need a stage or street corner to have a calling to be an evangelist. An evangelist maybe you.
According to the Church Army (www.churcharmy.org), the Evangelist is someone who interprets the world to the church, and the church to the world. They are full of life and grace. It is sharing the love of Jesus brings them that fullness.
But it can be hard for an evangelist to always recognise themselves as one.
In my experience, an evangelist is eager to share Jesus with those who don’t yet know him. If I meet someone like that, they want to tell me about the wonderful privilege of doing so. They can’t help themselves. The conversations about faith seem to happen, even when they don’t try.
They also often seem frustrated, that other Christians don’t do the same!
Starting to discover a calling to be an evangelist
Someone might have said to them they are like an evangelist. That could be the minister who has said it, or the congregation, even someone who doesn’t yet know Jesus! The recognition could come from anywhere. But like so many callings, the one being called is frequently that last to hear it.
Before we go further, an evangelist doesn’t have to be ordained but might be. Nor undergo many years of special training to be an evangelist before they are ‘let loose’.
I have known very effective evangelists start in their primary schools…and younger.
The different ‘shapes’ of calling to be an evangelist
We have come up with 4 ‘shapes’ that the calling to be an evangelist might take shape within the Diocese. I hope that this will help people discern if God may be calling you to be an evangelist and be part of the whole ‘evangelist network’. You may find that more than one shape is a good fit, and that’s fine!
These are based on different ways in which we see evangelists going about their ministry in the day to day.
So, do you see yourself as…
1) An individual evangelist?
You find yourself talking to people about Jesus, whether it is friends, or family, or at work, or in a coffee shop. Sometimes it feels like you are the only one doing it.
2) Mentor evangelist?
You seek to encourage others to share their faith. Yes, this is a real evangelist calling! A mentor is someone who takes someone else with them whilst they go and share faith.
Accompanying someone who is confident in sharing their faith is a fantastic way to learn. You can see that the response to talking about Jesus is not as negative as feared.
The mentor evangelist would encourage them to have a go.
Are you an evangelist who can inspire others? Do you take people with you?
3) Champion evangelist?
You long to see your local church engage in mission, witness and faith sharing. By helping others see where God is at work, you can inspire them to be involved.
We are building a network to inspire and support mission and evangelism in the Diocese of Bath and Wells. Could you see yourself as someone who is a champion in your church, benefice, or deanery? We can support you!
4) We are seeking to bring together a group of identified evangelists
We are building a community of recognised evangelists who have influence across a wider area of the diocese. This community will engage regularly in theological reflective practice. Not as scary as it sounds, it is about noticing what God is doing and joining in. The focus of the group is to be ever more eager to share the gospel and encouraging one another to continue in this vital ministry. The evangelists in the group will be willing to encourage, accompany and inspire other areas around the diocese not just in their more local area.
If you are wondering about being an evangelist, you may find it useful to read about the surprising things that motivate an evangelist.
Mike Haslam, Chaplaincy Development Adviser