Friday, August 18, 2006

Evangelist

What is the role of the Evangelist? Who receives the evangelists ministry in the first instance? Nearly all thought suggests the role is to the world, by that I mean an evangelist ministry is street preaching etc. Reading the passages below (only the Ephesians passage is descriptive), it would seem an evangelist ministry is first and foremost 'to preach the gospel to the church', any thoughts?

Relevant passages

  1. Acts 21:8
    Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven.

  2. Ephesians 4:11
    It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,

  3. 2 Timothy 4:5
    But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

15 comments:

Shieldsy said...

"it would seem an evangelist ministry is first and foremost 'to preach the gospel to the church'"

How did you come to that conclusion?

Dave said...

How did you come to that conclusion?

Eph 4:11 onwards seems to read this way does it not


It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

dinsy said...

I wondered that too. Presumably it is from the verses that follow on from Eph. 4:11 - to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up ... attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (v12,13).

I suppose it depends on how you interpret "building up the body", is it growing in strength, growing in numbers, or both. I think it is hard for the body to grow in numbers if it is not at the same time growing in strength in the members that make up the body.

A lot of Paul's teaching seems to be aimed primarily (if not solely) at the church - he was after all writing to churches - presumably on the grounds that we can contribute to our own growth in Christ (or actively resist it) whereas we can do nothing about who God calls to join the body. So from this standpoint it seems reasonable to suppose that evangelists have a strong role to the church, as do pastors, teachers etc.

When the church is not showing Jesus to the world, there is little incentive to seek him, because you have no idea what he is like, so again the church is in need of teaching and strengthening.

If Paul had told us what are the actions expected of an evangelist, it would be easier to tell. Shame he had already told Timothy privately. (I don't suppose it was to preach with his name in lights to 1000+ seater stadiums of non-believers.)

dinsy said...

Thanks Dave, your post had not appeared when I started mine. Glad I guessed your text correctly! The rest of my post still stands.

Dave said...

Dinsy,

We always apply outward preaching to evangelist, but not the other ministries listed, pastor etc.

If an evangelist is to preach to the 'unsaved' then we must rely on a few 'gifted' individuals to do this work. The Spirit though uses these ministries to build the body so they can do this world facing work.
There was a man once who turned the world upside down using this method, sadly we have situations where churches look for an evangelist to do the work that they should be doing...brings us back to the Hebrews you should be teachers by now cry.

I think Paul did tell us the role of an evangelist, that is what Eph 4 is about, it is all about preparing God's people for service. Logically every church should be full of people who are being built up who will in turn, on reaching maturity (spiritual), continue the process, and on it goes, that is why the Kingdom is like the Mustard tree or the yeast, it spreads like crazy.

Sad thing is there are people who have sat in church so long and still have reached no maturity, and who is to blame? Slightly off topic, but look at Dingwall - where is the spiritual growth in the church...hence the Solemn Assembly

Shieldsy said...

I think there's an assumption that spiritual maturity comes through gaining more knowledge/understanding. I've come to the conclusion that spiritual maturity has nothing to do with either of those things. Think it's more to do with service.

I matured more in my faith when I started using it to serve/minister to others than in 1000's of hours sat 'receiving' teaching.

Peter said...

Well said, Shieldsy, I couldn't agree more. Instead of sitting outside the church nipping at its heels, God's people should be inside the church serving, and so maturing in the faith, with servant hearts. In doing so they will Put what they learn from scripture, into practice. It doesn't matter if you've been hurt by the Church feel rejected by the church or ignored by the church. The place to be is in the church serving, challenging. The easy option is to sit outside licking your wounds trying to work out your revenge, as some do. For me Evangelism is about taking Christ to a lost world not talking about it. Through serving the community and the chuch with Christ in our hearts we are evangelists.

Dave said...

Peter, I am not sure what you mean by 'people sat outside nipping heels'

can you explain, is this something you have experienced. I know some people who have been deeply hurt and abused by church (even physically), do you condemn them for being scared of going into another abusive system.
We have a number of people from a 'christian recovery' forum view this site, most of them would rather sit outside 'church', and yet they serve each other daily.
Can we only serve in a church?

Dave said...

If spiritual maturity has nothing to do with gaining knowledge and understanding, then why do we have passages like this

About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God.

They need to be 'taught'(that is to impart knowledge. Why did the writer not just tell them to serve more?

Did the disciples just serve? No, Jesus taught them, then the Spirit through the apostles carried that teaching on, and still continues to teach us through apostles.
If we gain knowledge for academic prowess then we have missed it, yet if our knowledge and understanding disciples us then we will be able to teach others.

How do you equate spiritual maturity with service, where does this conclusion come from.
Maybe your 1000's of hours teaching was not hearing the gospel, for I have heard men and women teach things which have radically altered my life as I understood more of Jesus message.

dinsy said...

It seems clear that you have to have both teaching and putting it into practice. Is this not what James is saying in his letter? If all you have is knowledge, then you will never grow to maturity as a follower of Jesus. But if all you do is serve, you won't know more about how to serve. Jesus praised Mary for listening to his teaching when Martha was having a go at her for not serving, after all.

Peter, how can you dismiss people's sufferings who have been hurt and abused by the church so casually as to say it doesn't matter? It might not matter to you, you might not have been abused in this way, but it certainly matters to those who have. I know from personal experience and from talking to others. Would you tell an abused child that it's sufferings didn't matter, it should just go home and serve its abusive parents?

It takes time to recover from abuse of any kind, spiritual abuse is no different, and to dismiss it in this way is not helpful.

Peter said...

I belive that we are all evangelists to some extent. When Christians disengage with one another the world loses out. It is right to say that many have been hurt by the church.
Any valid definition of the church would be familial: children of God , brothers and sisters in Christ, etc. Family is not something we pick or choose like friends,family is brought together by God. I believe that when someone is hurt, upset by the church that person should take thier grievence to the church not walk off into the sunset. Having said that it does happen. I have a family, quite a large family and we have fallen out from timre to time but we always come back to each other because we are family.

The same should apply to the Church, God has brought us all together. Christs mission on earth was one of reconcilliation.My mission has to be one of reconcilliation, after a time, its time to cease licking our wounds and to engage with the one another it means forgiving your brother 70x7. That's where the strength of any family is..in unity. Thats why I say that the hurt we have recieved doesn't really matter when put into the perspective of the redemptive purposes of Christ in the world... We have to put aside our hurt.

In the final analasis what matters is how we relate to each other as we stand before our Lord. Please Dinsey, child abuse is something else altogether and I fail to see how you can bring that subject into the same arena.
When I mentioned "nipping at the chuches heels" I had in mind Christian lies who's contempt for the church is well documented on this blog. I don't know him personally but I guess he's hurting from some bad church experience. I wish he would take it back to the church and try to deal with it. Instead of writing the way he does God loves him like he loves me. but why attack the church ? You can't change the church from outside. I have brothers and sisters that stand outside the church with steam coming out of their ears angry and hurt I would rather they were in serving the Lord with all thier hearts using thier talents and experience of life to the benefit and edification of the church in stead of bitching about the church.

If anyone thinks I haven't experienced hurt from the church they couldn't be more wrong but Christ is more important than my hurt which he can heal, his church is more important than my pain which he can take away. The saddest thing in the church is when it loses its witness to the world because of its inability to reconcile one to another. Like I said the world loses out. I hope this helps to understand my comments. A lot of people would no doubt disagree, but thats life.


Peter

Dave said...

We actually all have an evangelistic calling, as we all have a prophetic and pastoral and teaching etc ministry. Yet this is not what Paul is saying to the ephesians, Philip was an evangelist and Timothy was told to do this duty. My point was that we tend to only see the 'evangelist' as someone who preaches to the unconverted, people like Luis Palau and Reinhard Bonke. This is not what the bible tells us, the NT indicates that this ministry is to the church, the body. To see it any other way tends to have people leaning towards 'one man' ministry.
Many people have been rejected and hurt by individual churches, and yet when that grievance is taken to the church it has been ignored. What recourse does a person have in that position? Who can they turn to? Nobody wants to know and the abusers are allowed to carry on. We can forgive 490 times and more, but people have to be protected. A reading of the OT prophets shows that a voice needs to be raised for the oppressed who have no voice. Utopian church is all very nice, but it will not happen. Jesus himself refuted and tore down the false religion of the Pharisees, he never just forgave them and accepted the corrupt temple worship. Gods ministry is indeed reconciliation through the son, but Jesus accomplished this through peace at all cost, not peace at any cost, by that I mean he still challenged abusive systems.

You said that in reference to nipping at the heels you had in mind Christian Lies. Yet I am confused because you said...

Instead of sitting outside the church nipping at its heels, God's people should be inside the church serving, and so maturing in the faith, with servant hearts.

Do you consider CL as part of God's people? Whilst you raise this issue let me share a bit more...

Christian Lies is directing his complaint to the church in general, over time and across all denominations. I spoke to him by phone last night. He informed me that a senior minister in Tain, who does not know me, other than I am a English Pastor of a church, told Christian Lies (a non believer) that 'Dave Lynch does not understand the Highlands because he is an incomer'. This reveals a deep seated predjudice in this minister. If this trips so easiy from his lips then what level of prejudice colours his whole ministry. To be honest, I can understand why Christian Lies forms the opinions he does. He is a very pleasant man, but when everyone shuts the door in your face all the time you just get bitter I guess. He is justified in his contempt, and I think your comments regarding him may reaffirm it even more, maybe not.

For those brothers and sisters with 'steam in their ears', maybe you should take their complaint to the churches they are angry with, act as a go between. I know you have experienced a painful break up i a church in the past, how did you reconcile with those people? What does a person do when those who have caused hurt will not reconcile, I have a friend who has lost his wife and children to a church, he has no recourse other than legal action. What do we do if we have offered terms of peace many times and yet that church refuses that olive branch?
I just wish it was as simple as you say, but true peace often comes at a price, we cannot plaster over the cracks, maybe us all coming together in the time of prayer and fasting (solemn assembly) will move us closer to God.

dinsy said...

Peter, you say when someone is hurt or upset by the church, they should take their grievance to the church. Of course they should, but once you have taken your grievance to everyone in leadership in the church that you know, and been ignored, or told you are wrong, what do you do then? How can you get a grievance addressed in the church if there is no accountability within that church.

At least if you belong to a denomination with a "chain of command" outside the local church, you can take you grievance there, but even they might dismiss you out of hand, preferring to support the minister.

So then what do you do, stay and continue to suffer with no hope of change, or leave?

I spoke about child abuse because if you are calling the church a family, the church authorities are analagous to the parents, and the people who attend are the children of the family - spiritually abused children of spiritually abusive parents. And because I hoped it would help you to realise how callous it is to tell people their pain does not matter, just stay in the abusive situation and put up with the pain, even if there is no chance of getting anything done about it. I hope you would not say this to a child, why say it to one of God's children? In fact some of the worst victims of church abuse are children.

If a church is abusive and controlling, it is NOT preaching the gospel of freedom in Jesus, so why should anyone stay there? You can learn of God's love better outside a bad church than inside it - I know, I did!

I don't understand your attitude to Christian Lies - what do you hope to gain by criticising someone who is not a christian, a man you don't even know. How is this demonstrating christianity to him?

Peter said...

"I don't understand your attitude to Christian Lies - what do you hope to gain by criticising someone who is not a christian, a man you don't even know. How is this demonstrating christianity to him?"

I don't see that I criticised him as I said I don't know him. I can only go off what comes from his keyboard.

So.. do you love the church? what keeps you away? (John Davidson loved his church and he belonged to it and was heavily involved with it when he called for a solemn assembly!) Do you still feel agrieved at the church,if so why? if not, whats your problem? Does Dave still feel agrieved..if so lets hear, it if not whats his problem? Are we going to spend the rest of our days with a church sized chip on our shoulder or are we going to get over it and move on?.

You can have all the solemn assemblies you like but if you don't love those you assemble with there's no point. Thats why it's important to take our hurt and our pain to God not carry it around with us. Thats how we move on.

Christian lies has got problems (I've seen his website)thats what happens when we keep our grievences to ourselves they fester and grow bitter within us. (Thats not a critisism thats what is evident.)

If I've hurt either of you past or present I apologise here in this very public place. That is not my intention.


You know where you can find me!

dinsy said...

Peter, what on earth do you mean "what keeps me away from the church" - I go to church most Sundays, sometimes twice, a house group meets in my house most Monday evenings, which I lead from time to time, I attend other mid week church events, regularly take communion, somtimes attend Saturday evening meetings with other fellowships that we invite to join us.

What are you talking about? Do you mistake me for someone else? Surely you can't be so narrow as to mean that because I don't go to the same church you attend, I don't go to church at all? Do you think yours is the only church in the world or something?

No, I don't feel personally aggrieved at the church on my own behalf, I spent a long time in company with other believers, at church meetings, coming to terms with what has happened to me in certain churches, and forgiving and letting go the hurt, which I would advise anyone to do who has had problems with one or more churches.

However, just because I have forgiven those churches for what has been done to me, does not mean I am callous enough, or crass enough, to say it is OK for them to hurt other people, nor that hurt inflicted in the name of Jesus Christ should just be ignored.

You ask "Are we going to spend the rest of our days with a church sized chip on our shoulder or are we going to get over it and move on?." - I no longer have a church-sized chip on my shoulder, God in His grace has shown me how to let go of it. Since you say "we", I assume that means you have a church-sized chip on your shoulder, are you going to let God deal with it?

As for Christian Lies, he does have issues that various churches will not recognise, or discuss. But how can you possibly say he is keeping them to himself, he is shouting them to any church that will listen! Yourself included. You don't seem to be listening.

It is this lack of accountability in the church that I complain of. I notice you have addressed none of my points on accountability. Why not, do you feel you should not be held accountable for what you say and do? Or for what your church says and does?

You ask me if I love the church. Before I answer you that, tell me this. Did Jesus love the Pharisees?

Please respond to my questions, instead of posting such ridiculous statements as that something keeps me away from the church.

 

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