How to Inspire the Next Generation of Evangelists
How to Inspire the Next Generation of Evangelists
While here I primarily mean dedicated “full-time” evangelists, those who get most of their living from preaching (1 Cor. 9:14, 1 Tim. 5:17) let’s remember that each Christian has the duty and opportunity to spread the news of the kingdom, both by example (Matthew 5:14-16) and by sharing the word of hope (1 Peter 3:15).
If our family of faith is to grow throughout the country and the world, it will require young men willing to prepare themselves for the special work of preaching the gospel, bravely doing like Peter, and setting aside his nets (Matthew 4:18-20), doing like Timothy, and leaving his home (Acts 16:3).
Many of us are concerned that fewer and fewer young men are willing to make that commitment. How can we inspire them?
Talk About the Importance of Preaching ... and Souls
God could rearrange the stars to spell the name “Jesus” and thus evangelize the world. But His chosen method is to spread the news of salvation through faithful people who tell the story of Jesus (Acts 10:41-42). “How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? How will they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14).
This means those who work to evangelize are vital parts of God’s efforts to save souls. This work is uniquely important. A financial planner might save your nest egg, a doctor might save your leg, but an evangelist introduces you to the word which saves your soul from an eternity of Hell. Nothing—not one single aspect of life—is more important than one’s destination in eternity!
If you believe this, and if God has granted you the ability to learn the word and preach it, why would you want to waste your time with anything as insignificant as the study of law, politics, medicine, or nuclear physics? Why would you have anything more than a necessary passing interest in money or sports or video games when you could be a part of “what Christ has accomplished through [Paul] ... the obedience of the Gentiles”? President James Garfield, a preacher and elder in Restoration churches, proclaimed upon his inauguration, “I resign the highest office in the land to become president of the United States” (https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/James_Garfield). He had the order correct.
Talk About Preaching as a Calling
Paul testified “I am under obligation ... eager to preach the gospel...” (Romans 1:14-15). Sure, those of us who preach week-in and week-out had better enjoy reading and research, preparing outlines and public speaking, the creative process of figuring out what to say and how to say it (1 Timothy 4:15-16). But preaching should also be viewed as a responsibility toward people who are lost and struggling (Rom. 10:1, Acts 15:36), a duty toward God. A have-to, not just a want-to. A duty that may, in fact, influence our own relationship to God, lest we remain silent and the blood of the lost lay at our feet (Ezekiel 33:1-9).
We tend to shy away from the language of “a calling” or vocation. But frankly one needs to see preaching, to a large degree, as a God-given responsibility that one continues to do even on those assignments where Satan makes it tough. I know I’m not a prophet, but I am convinced I’m doing what God has prepared me to do (Isa. 6:8, Jer. 1:5, Acts 9:15-16). After all, why would we fervently ...
Pray for Evangelists
... “beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:38) if we don’t think God is somehow involved in equipping men with the desire to preach? Let us pray that God would use all the means at His disposal to motivate and prepare young men to take on that role in His kingdom. God still “gives some as evangelists” (Eph. 4:11, Rom. 10:15).
Prepare and Encourage Evangelists
One of our many duties is to replicate evangelists. Paul charged Timothy, “the things which you have heard from me ... entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).
An important duty, no doubt, but one that often gets overlooked by our demand for professional and polished public speaking. A congregation should seek to be obedient to this command to identify, encourage, and train more preachers. Perhaps slots could be dedicated to members for preaching on a regular basis, such as every fifth Sunday (four days a year). The preacher could help the volunteer prepare the lesson. Stable congregations could support a student preacher for ten weeks each summer, to shadow the located preacher and learn to develop and present material. There are other ways, but this is a command that we have no right to ignore.
Treat Evangelists Honorably
Some young men testify that they were once interested in committing to preaching, but then saw how their brother or father or friend was treated shabbily by a congregation, forced to move annually, made to live in poverty. They don’t want to sign up for such an experience, especially when counted on as the breadwinner for a young family.
This is a complicated subject with many factors (sadly, some preachers bring instability upon themselves). Let leaders of congregations simply treat an evangelist transparently and honorably. “They went out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. We ought to support such men, so that we may be fellow workers with the truth” (3 John 7-8).