I serve as a church planter in Virginia Beach, Va. My title, according to the church I serve, is evangelist. That means I am a minister called to proclaim the gospel in a particular community and to labor toward the organization of a local congregation of Christ’s body in that place.
The title evangelist can be confusing. It can give the impression that the pastor is the only evangelist in the church. It can lead people to believe that gospel proclamation is only for those who are called to ordained ministry. But this undermines the very goal of church planting—the establishment of a body of worshiping witnesses in a particular location.
You see, the local church is a body of worshipers. When we evangelize, it is to bring new worshipers into this body. The purpose of evangelism is not simply to “get people saved.” The purpose of evangelism is to make known the God of the Bible in His Son Jesus Christ. When people come to know the Father, through faith in Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, they become worshipers. Another name for worshipers is disciples. The great task of the church is to “make disciples of all nations.” But how does someone become a disciple? Through an act of worship: “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19).
The local church is more than an assembly of worshipers, though. Worship is the center of the Christian life. Yet, while all of life may be worshipful, we do not always live in the holy of holies of corporate worship. Our lives are punctuated by brief moments on the mountaintop of the Lord’s immanent presence as we gather on Sunday. But what is our calling in the much longer space between Lord’s Days? The answer is that we are to be witnesses of the risen and reigning Lord Jesus Christ.
A witness is someone who gives testimony to what he knows or has experienced. A Christian is a witness to the truth of the gospel. He is a witness to the incarnation, virgin birth, sinless life, substitutionary atoning death, resurrection, ascension, and present mediatorial reign of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. These realities we take hold of by faith, not by sight. They shape how we think about everything, thrilling our hearts with the “expulsive power of a new affection” so that we begin living holy lives in an unholy world. We testify to a living Savior who is all our righteousness and all our hope, and who is coming a second time for our salvation. We bear witness to Christ, not as detached observers but as those who have experienced Him in our hearts by the inward work of the Holy Spirit.