Evangelism is the spreading of the “Good News”, therefore, an evangelist is the individual bearing the responsibility of the presentation of the “Good News.” As Christians, this “Good News” continues to be as the Apostle Paul succinctly put in I Corinthians 15, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ! When considering the cause of, and responsibility for evangelism, it is important to stay rooted in the reality of the message that an evangelist is to present.
As a Christian from the Pentecostal tradition, the conception of evangelism is woven tightly into the preaching, genre of worship and overall Christian expression of the believer. Evangelism, the spreading of the “Good News”, the Gospel, is an expectation of every believer, a fruit of the indwelling Spirit of God. For Pentecostals, evangelism is not a buzzword, or a part of denominational culture, it is an expression of the Christian life and serves as a means to present hope to non-believers by inviting them into the Kingdom of God that is being fulfilled on Earth. To be a Christian in the Pentecostal tradition is to be engaged in the responsibility of evangelism. The reality of the expressed Spirit of God in Pentecostalism is a sign to believers that the Kingdom has come to humankind and is in the beginning of its eschatological consummation, therefore, a sense of responsibility and urgency is laid on their hearts to “reach” the world with the Gospel.
It is without question that this concentration of evangelism in the Pentecostal tradition has contributed to its remarkable and continued growth throughout the globe. However, it also has the potential to be spiritually hazardous in the individual and collective lives of Pentecostals. Language that is often used in Pentecostal churches such as “winning souls” or “soul-winner” echo the sentiment that somehow individual believers, empowered with the eschatological Spirit, have the capacity through their efforts to save non-believers and transition them into the Kingdom of God. This unintended consequence removes the concentration of the spreading the “Good News” to a focus on the number of souls that an individual feels personally responsible for “leading to Christ.” In order to correct this imbalance often found in Pentecostalism, Pentecostals must advocate for theological training amongst its clergy, not just Spirit empowerment.
It is important to note that Pentecostal scholarship is indeed an emerging field and will be a powerful tool for the Church by teaching, discipling and grounding believers in the faith in order to keep evangelism in the proper perspective. Christian discipleship and scholarship within Pentecostalism will also aid the global Church in expanding the scope of what evangelism can look like through the broad efforts of social justice and advocacy for the marginalized and voiceless in the world, areas which it traditionally has been weak. Broadening the definition of how one shares their faith will also broaden the Pentecostal influence globally.
In closing, Pentecostals have done well and must continue to advocate for the presentation of the Gospel in the world. They have taught that evangelism is not an exclusive responsibility of a few select individuals, but one which all must take seriously as followers of Christ. For Pentecostals, the coming of the Spirit of God, is an eschatological empowerment to partner with Christ in the expanding of the Kingdom of God in the world, and the Gospel continues to be for them, as it was for the Apostle Paul, “…the power of God unto salvation…” (Romans 1:16)