Obstacles to Evangelism – Part III (An Improper View of the Pastorate)

Here is another obstacle to evangelism that is often inwardly assumed even if not outwardly articulated:

“That’s my pastor’s job.”

We often simply don’t evangelize because we think that it is someone else’s job to do so.

Church members often assume that evangelism is one of the things that they pay their pastor(s) to do.  And that is correct as far as it goes.  But it doesn’t go far enough.

While a church does pay their pastor to (among other things) evangelize, they do not pay their pastor to evangelize for them.  At least that is not the biblical model.  In other words, fulfilling the Great Commission is still the whole church’s responsibility, not just the responsibility of pastors.

Consider Paul’s words in his epistle to the Ephesians:

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, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV)

So our pastors are there to equip the saints (the whole church) for the work of ministry, not to do the work of ministry for them.  And not only that, but he clearly emphasizes “each part” (i.e. every member of the body) doing his or her part in the building up of the body of Christ.

So what about evangelism?  Look at the book of Acts.  While the apostles and ordained servants (i.e. Stephen, Philip, etc.) are certainly front & center in the work of making disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, that particular work is by no means limited to them.

In Acts chapter 8 we read about a great persecution that broke out against the Christian church in Jerusalem (v.1).  It was so bad that everyone but the apostles fled for their lives (ibid).  And what do we see those scattered Christians doing?  Sharing the gospel!  In Acts 8:4 Luke writes,

Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.

Those were not just the church officers – those were ordinary believers, not necessarily gifted in evangelism.  And they did this while fleeing for their lives! (I dare say that most of us allow far lesser concerns to keep us from sharing the gospel.)

So the task of making disciples is our job.  That is how each and every one of us in the church should think of it.

You may not think that you are particularly gifted at evangelism.  You may be painfully shy or introverted.  But remember that our Lord still delights to use you to share His gospel.

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