by Shawn Seguin, Church Plant Resident on Staff
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…” (Mat. 28:19-20). The great commission is a well-known command from Jesus, yet most believers do little to no evangelism. While I think we could all do better at this, I believe that the church leaders all over the states have simply not offered enough training in the area of evangelism. The average attendee is terrified of seeming like a salesman for Jesus, or simply being judged for their faith. Church leaders, like the average attendee, should not only know the importance of sharing the gospel, but, unlike the average attendee, their responsibility to equip all believers to do the same.
In Ephesians 4:11-12 Paul writes, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…” Paul makes it clear that the leadership of the church is responsible to “equip the saints for the work of ministry.” If believers in our congregations do not share the gospel with others, we have not done enough equipping as leaders of the church. This is actually one reason why I am starting a new ministry within our church that trains people in evangelism.
I will soon be launching a ministry called Equip. This is a ministry for anyone interested in growing in the area of evangelism. This is not going to be a class where we teach tactics on how to convince, convict, and convert people. Convincing, convicting, and converting are not our responsibilities. The Holy Spirit is already at work on hearts. Our responsibility is to become co-laborers with Christ. We are simply called to share the good news because we love people too much not to let them know how much they are loved. If we are not evangelizing because we are compelled by love, we too quickly fall into the trap of trying to play the role of the Holy Spirit. But, if we truly love people, we should desire to offer spiritual wholeness as much, or even more than, physical, mental, social, and emotional wholeness.
It is true that many evangelists in the past have given evangelism a bad reputation, but that doesn’t mean we should stop following the command of Jesus. Many of us have been so worried about looking like those bad evangelists that we have stopped doing any evangelism. We claim that we don’t want to make Jesus look bad, but we are often just worried about our own reputation. I know this is true, because I have been faced with this reality many times. How many times have I thought about bringing something spiritual into a conversation, but backed down because I didn’t want to be lumped into a category of “one of those Christians.” I claim to be in it for the “long-haul,” call it “relational evangelism,” but 6 months pass and people still don’t know anything meaningful about my faith.
The reality is that if we truly care about people enough to start spiritual conversations, pray with people, and maybe even share the gospel, I believe we would be pleasantly surprised. I know I have been. We must remember that God is already at work on hearts all over the world. He simply invites us to participate. In Luke 10:2, Jesus says, “And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Today there are still few laborers and there is still a great harvest.
This is what Equip is for. As a church leader, I want to take responsibility for our congregation. I have a deep desire to build up laborers who know how to articulate the supernatural message of the cross, in natural and relational ways. We will be meeting on a weekly basis to pray and then go out to coffee shops, bars, parks, busses, grocery stores, and households to practice starting spiritual conversations. We will also have a monthly celebration and training time where we will share stories and discuss how we can improve. The more we practice and discuss this, the more natural it will be for us to be the witnesses we are called to be.
While I believe I could do a better job at being faithful to the great commission, I also think I could do a better job at equipping the saints. I am passionate about building up a church that truly loves Jesus and loves people so much that they live as co-laborers. The harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few, so let us pray that the Lord of the harvest would send out laborers. Let us pray that we become the laborers we are called to be where we work, play, live, and learn. Where you lack love, pray for love. Where you lack faith, pray for faith. God has big plans for your city and he wants you to be a part of that plan.