There are a few things that evangelists are known for in our generation, because of evangelists over the past few decades. Some of these things are good and some are bad.
From my experience, the negative connotations brought to mind when hearing about evangelists can generally be summarized by "pride, exaggeration, sexual immorality, lack of financial accountability and lack of intelligence." An emerging evangelist should and will be none of these.
An example of these negative perceptions occurred recently when Pastor Ted Haggard was caught in homosexuality. Instantly, the news reports declared him an "evangelist," because of the association with past televangelists and sexual impropriety. When studying the history of evangelists over the past fifty and sixty years, each of these negative perceptions can be traced back to a source. For whatever reason they seem to be a norm in the mind of the general public. Perceptions matter. We can and should manage people's perceptions of us. When it comes to perception, it really doesn't matter what's really in your heart, because based on a person's perception of you they will or will not discredit your ministry and the truth of Christ.
In my next few blogs, I would like to tackle some of these negative perceptions along with an encouragement on how we can emerge from the rubble left to us by those from the past and into a new place of authority God has called us to.
Today, I would like to tackle the issue of the evangelist's lack of intelligence. During my senior year of Bible college, in a class entitled Systematic Theology IV, a professor taught us on the five ministry callings as defined in Ephesians 4. He taught eloquently on the callings of apostle, prophet, pastor and teacher, but when it came to our notes on the evangelist, he literally had on the power point and had us write in our notes, "evangelists are...not very smart." His experience as a pastor with evangelists had left an impression on him.
It is always sad to me when people generalize. And speaking generally, the general public generalizes a lot. Another thing that bugs me is narrow mindedness. It is so sad when a pastor or any person to base their view on the (biblical, God called) evangelist by one or two people they have met. But there are fewer evangelists than pastors, and it's easier to base our opinion of an evangelist on one or two experiences. When really, there are plenty of evangelists out there with Ph. D's. I know of several. The truth is, intelligence and evangelism can coexist. As emerging evangelists, we must work hard to manage negative perceptions so that we can be all God wants us to be and open people's minds for future generations of evangelists. Here are a few ways we can accomplish this:
-Read and always be learning (I recommend at least 2 books a month)
-Grow in your communication skills
-Seek mentors and pastors in your life.
-Be open-minded towards critiques of sermons, writings and theology.
-Write new messages constantly (I recommend for most speaking engagements)
-Spell check emails and writings (using spell check on your computer)
The truth is we are constantly seeking open doors to minister, speak and preach. And one of the main things a Christian leader will want to know about us is: do we have something worth saying? Emerging evangelists do.