In most of the churches I have served there has been an Evangelism (or Outreach) Committee. This team of dedicated christians worked to help the church share the message of Jesus with their community. They did things like:
- buy tracts for members to share with their neighbours
- set up a booth at the local fair to hand out information and a free gift
- organized a community event (like a Fun Fair or BBQ)
- hosted ‘how to share your faith’ workshops or classes
- planned an annual ‘Bring a Friend’ Sunday
What struck me about these opportunities was that for the most part it was always the same people participating: those who were serving on the team, and those who already had a heart for sharing their faith. In addition, the numbers were usually small, the results difficult to measure, and the team was usually frustrated that no one else came out to help.
I would like to consider the possibility that a church should not have an Evangelism Committee. As I see it, I wonder if having such a committee actually works against mobilizing christians for sharing their faith.
The word ‘evangelism’ is rooted in the Greek word “good (eu) news (angelion)”. This of course relates to the good news of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God. Because of Jesus, our relationship with God, and each other, and the world has been restored and revitalized. As disciples of Jesus, we are learning what it means to worship God, to fellowship with other believers, and to serve our neighbors. Through all of these relationships, the good news is witnessed by to those who do not know about Jesus.
Instead of seeing worship as something different from evangelism, it is a form of sharing our faith. Consider how many psalms describe worship as a testimony to the nations (Psalm 117). Consider how the community that worships together with humility, sincerity and devotion can impact unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:24-25).
Instead of seeing fellowship as something different from evangelism, it is a form of sharing our faith. Consider how Jesus says that how we love each other shows the world that we are His disciples (John 13:35).
Instead of seeing service as something different from evangelism, it is a form of sharing our faith. Consider how our good deeds in the world ultimately lead “the pagans” to glorify God (1 Peter 2:12).
As I see it, the task of a Discipleship Team (whether for adults or for children and youth) is to train and equip Jesus followers to show and to share their faith, hope and love with others. The task of a Worship Team, Fellowship Team and Service Team is to provide opportunities in their respective ministry area for Jesus followers to show and to share the good news – through our worship, fellowship and service.
Looking at the above tasks performed by Evangelism Committees: The Worship Team can plan a ‘bring a friend’ Sunday, and help make sure the service is appropriately seeker friendly. The Discipleship Team can host ‘how to share your faith’ workshops, or sermon series, as well as make tracts available for sharing with their neighbours. The Service Team can help organize a booth at the local fair, or host a community event (like a Fun Fair or BBQ).
The advantage of disbanding the Evangelism Committee is that every member becomes a part of the evangelism experience, not just those who serve on the team. A further advantage of this approach is that those naturally gifted and passionate about evangelism are free from committees and planning to do what they do best – witness to Jesus! They can also spread into the other areas of ministry (Discipleship, Worship, Fellowship, Service) and infect them all with more ‘good news’. And finally, this makes one less committee in an already over-committeed church!
Evangelism, like mission, is not just one thing among many that we do as Jesus followers. It is the heart and soul of all that we do: missional discipleship, missional worship, missional fellowship, missional service! May everything we do as a community of Jesus followers be infused and energized by the good news of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God. May our neighbours and communities see and feel the good news in and through us!