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In our last lesson, we showed that an evangelist is someone Jesus has called and gifted to be highly effective in 1) winning the lost and 2) motivating, training and equipping everyday believers to be effective witnesses. We saw that all believers are called to be Jesus' witnesses, that job does not fall to only the evangelists. We saw that Jesus usually backs up the proclamation of the gospel with a demonstration of His power - the sick are healed, demons are cast out, etc. God does that for everyday believers as well as for those in the office of evangelist. However, those in the office of evangelist tend to see it on a bigger scale.
Now let's move on and look at some of the things that evangelists have to be very careful about:
We will look at the first two now then look at the next three in the next lesson.
All believers are examples of Jesus, but particularly those who are in the public eye, such as evangelists or Christian TV or radio personalities. Those who are in the public eye need to be blameless in all areas. They can't get away with things that others can get away with. 2 Timothy 4:5 gave instructions to evangelist Timothy. It says, "But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry."
If you are an evangelist, then all aspects of your life and ministry must clearly and accurately reflect Jesus. Anything that makes you look bad also makes Jesus look bad, and gives a black eye to the cause of the gospel. Evangelists promote Jesus as loving and as the solution to people's problems. Therefore, they must model loving and godly behavior in all they do. The overseer's qualifications from 1 Tim. 3:2-7 are an excellent description of qualifications and code of conduct for an evangelist:
"Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap."
Promote Only Jesus
Resist the temptation to promote yourself instead of promoting Jesus. This plays out in two areas. The first is that evangelists are frequently thrust into the public eye. It can be overwhelming to a person to suddenly have a whole bunch of people wanting to know his/her opinion on this/that. There is a saying, "fame destroys." In other words, godly people can get caught up in the "fame" aspects that often come with being promoted by God to promote Jesus. It can be tempting to fall into pride, to become arrogant or to get your eyes and focus off of Jesus. It can become tempting to start to lift up your own name and reputation instead of lifting up Jesus. But evangelists must not do that. They must think of themselves like John the Baptist, whose job was to go before Jesus and point people to Jesus. John 3:26-36 puts it this way:
They came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan - the one you testified about - well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him."
To this John replied, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of Him.' The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less. The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."
The second area is that we must not have men look to us for something God is doing. This plays out in many areas, but let me use healing as an example. Some evangelists have a strong healing anointing. People come to their crusades, not because they want to hear about Jesus, but because they want to be healed. They will tend to look to the evangelist to heal them, and it is important for the evangelist to redirect and clarify that he doesn't heal anyone, Jesus does.
Let's take Benny Hinn as an example. I know he is a controversial figure; some love his ministry and others can't stand him. I used to be in the "other" camp; I had a very low opinion of him. I had been to one of his meetings once and the people lined up to get in were like a mob, pushing past each other and sometimes knocking each other down to get a good seat. That offended me (I was more easily offended in those days than I am now), and I decided the man was bad news and I did not want to have anything to do with him ever again. I thought he was one of those hype faith healers and I avoided his ministry like the plague.
Then one day God told me to turn on the TV and the Benny Hinn show came on. I was going to change the channel, but God said, "Watch it. There is something coming up I want to show you." The next thing that came up was an announcement of a Benny Hinn crusade in my area and instructions on how to volunteer as an usher. Then God spoke to me clearly and said, "Teresa, you put him down in your mind, so I am sending you to go serve his ministry for a season and learn about it. I want you to go and serve as an usher."
I was shocked that God would tell me to do that, but I obeyed Him. I had to go through some training and I learned that Benny was an evangelist, not a faith healer. (I never knew that he was an evangelist before that training meeting.) They spent a long time training us how to politely but effectively handle the eager crowds. I saw that the area where I had been so critical of them was indeed an area of great concern to them. I also learned that Benny's highest priority was the presentation of the gospel. Somehow I ended up being a captain of ushers instead of just an usher. I served at all the meetings in my area and then God told me to travel once at my own expense with the ministry and continue to serve in that capacity. So I did.
Serving as an usher captain gave me a great opportunity to see and observe a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff. For instance, it became very clear that the focus and target of the meetings was to share the gospel and that the healings were God backing up the gospel with His power and authority. I was down on the field during the altar call and again during the healing ministry time. There was not hype and there was a clear presentation of the gospel. Over and over again, I heard Benny correct people who said he healed them. He would tell them that Jesus healed them and that he (Benny) could not heal anyone. Over and over again people tried to look to him for the healing or to give him credit for it. And over and over again, he would give the credit and glory back to Jesus. Benny had a very strong agenda that Jesus' name be lifted high. I gained a respect for the man and his ministry as I served under him and watched him go to great lengths to assure that ONLY the name of Jesus was lifted up at his meetings.
It certainly can be tempting for evangelists who move in signs and wonders to encourage people to look to themselves instead of to Jesus. It can be tempting to take credit for some of what God is doing. But every evangelist must discourage that and point the people back to Jesus.