Consider Colossians 4:2-6
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:2-6)
This is a call to do evangelism, that is, to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.
From time to time there is a little bit of discussion among Christian folk about what Paul means here. Is every Christian called to be an ‘evangelist’?
It is possible to read these verses and declare that ‘evangelism’ is the duty of all who believe the gospel and every believer should be taking every opportunity to share the news about Jesus with everyone they can?
It is also possible to read these verses and suggest that the duty of all who believe the gospel is to live a godly life leaving the ‘evangelism’ to those who are gifted evangelists?
Both arguments are logical and have merit. What could be said as a minimum is that all believers should care about evangelism and should pray for evangelists proclaiming Christ. Further, since these verses press the interactions with those who are ‘outsiders’ (those who don’t yet have faith in Christ), then it is clear that every believer is called to engage wisely making the most of the various opportunities they have with those who don’t believe.
The opportunity to ‘evangelise’ is as relational as it is circumstantial. Speaking the gospel will at times be to those you know well and at other times to those you have only just met – and then everyone in between. And, speaking the gospel may also happen in formal public settings and at other times in informal private settings.
For those who know you better (those with whom you have the most relational currency), you have more ‘tools’ at your disposal when it comes to evangelism: your words, your actions, your history, and you have the passage of time. They know you well so there should be many things about your life that speak of Jesus. Your ‘evangelism’ will happen over longer periods of time as you take up opportunities to invite them, speak to them, live for them, and show them in love that it is a wonderful thing to know and trust Jesus. The relational circumstance means that you have far more opportunity to speak the gospel into their life than those who might be the ‘gifted evangelist’. Expecting someone else to evangelise those you know and love most, is hardly making the most of every relational opportunity.
Paul may be acknowledging that for some (like Timothy and himself), they have many opportunities for formal evangelism – that is the appointed public proclamation of the gospel that may be the ‘job’ of an evangelist or a minister or a speaker. That fact however does not relieve all Christians from the obligation to make the most of the many opportunities for informal evangelism – that is the responsive relational gospel conversation which arises throughout the normal circumstances of life.
Not all Christians are called to be a missionary by occupation, but every believer is called to be on God’s mission by pre-occupation.
For more in this Series:
Bold in Mission
Bold in Witness & the Great Commission
Believe and Confess
How to be Bold in Witness?
Practical Tips to be Bold in Witness
Is Every Christian Called to be an Evangelist?