Francis Chan was interviewed at the webpage Church Leaders and one of the answers he gave was thought provoking. He was asked about evangelism in the church and this is what he said..
What would you say is one of the biggest myths about evangelism in the church today?
There are a couple of things. I don’t know what the biggest one is. I
think one of the biggest problems is that no one feels like it’s their
I hear pastors say: “Well, it’s not really my job to go out and share
my faith with people. I’m really supposed to equip the people to do
And the people say: “Well, I’m not a preacher, so I don’t like to
preach to anyone. I just try to show them by having a nice life …”
Bottom line: No one is really getting the Gospel out. The truth is it’s everyone’s job.
If pastors were out sharing their faith, then they could say: “Follow
me; I’ll make you a fisher of men. Watch how I do it.” There would be a
sense of discipleship where people can come along.
Instead, we give sermons about fishing and PowerPoints about fishing
and books about fishing, but who’s actually out there fishing and taking
someone along with them? That’s the problem. Pastors aren’t doing it,
so then the sheep don’t have that type of example.
The truth is the believers should be doing it themselves and showing
other believers—“This is what I do in my workplace, look at how I share
with them, notice how I got into this guy’s life and how we go golfing
together, and after a while, he got to see my life, and I got to lay out
the Gospel.” We’re not discipling people in that.
What we do is a big church program, send out fliers, and if you have
enough courage, maybe tell your friend to come to “Jesus on Ice” or
whatever program we’ve got going on, but we’re still not fluent in
Scripture. It’s so weird to people that Jesus is the most important
thing to us yet we’re so awkward in talking about it.
We love our kids. We’ll talk about our kids all day. We love our
wives. We’ll talk about our wives. We love a sport. We’ll talk about
that sport. But when we talk about Jesus, it doesn’t just flow out of
this natural, this is who I am. I’m crazy about God and what He did for
me. It’s supernatural how He answers my prayers, and I just love Him.
I think that is something that is pretty obvious but no one will say it. Chan gets away with it because he walked away from a comfortable world of sermons on Sunday, conference speaking and writing books to get out among the lost and he equip others in a much less traditional way to do the same. It is sad and perverse that he took a lot of flak from some corners of the church for doing that, as if going out among the lost is somehow a step down in faithfulness from delivering a sermon on Sunday morning.
Bottom line as I have written before. If a guy is not equipping the less mature in the church for the work of ministry, which includes evangelism along with works of mercy and service, then he isn't fulfilling his calling. I don't care what ecclesiastical titles he carries, whether pastor or "reverend" or priest or elder. I don't care what educational achievements he has or which conferences he is invited to speak at or how many books with glowing reviews he has written.
That is not to point the finger of blame at the pastor (acknowledging that I am not anywhere near where I should be on sharing the Gospel). There are plenty of people who are quite content to "show up and pay up" and think that the pastor is getting paid so it is his job to evangelize because they "don't have the gift of evangelism". Whether you think you have the "gift" or not doesn't change that you have the calling!
We all have plenty to learn from each other, not just pastor to laity but every Christian to every Christian (for a good blog on this see Alan Knox's new post The church as a team of player-coaches). I don't think even Ray Comfort and those guys have it down pat because it simply isn't something you can have down pat. Every person has the same need, Jesus, but they also have very different experiences and backgrounds. We just need to equip people for evangelism and a huge part of that is encouraging them to actually do it. To do that we need to get out of our circles. Chan makes a point about private school and homeschool that I think overreaches a bit but the broader point is valid that many of us are cocooned within the church circles and just don't come into contact with the people who need to hear Jesus. Granted one of the largest populations of lost people that need to come to Christ are found on the "membership" rolls and in the pews of many churches but you get my point.
Ultimately we just need to spend more time together, in formal setting perhaps but more importantly in informal settings so we can watch one another interact with unbelievers and also serve each other. We see Paul often referring to others as co-workers or co-laborers, those we work and live alongside. That is something we cannot do in tightly controlled setting for an hour a week, we need to live alongside one another because you never know when a chance to witness or serve might come along. More on this later as community among the saints is weighing heavily on my mind yet again.