In the circles of Christianity that I run in, we believe that some are called to preach, some are gifted to teach, but all are called to be evangelists. Any born again Christian should be able to communicate to another person what Christ has done, even if the exchange is one on one. You do not have to be a preacher, Sunday School teacher or any sort of public speaker to share the Gospel. Apologetics is about presenting a defense of our faith and any Christian if asked ought to at least be able to explain why he or she is a believer. There are some, however, that still preach from the pulpit that only the ordained minister can evangelize from the pulpit. Consider this summary of one reformed pastor when responding to this issue on the Puritan Board website:
I believe most of us are all settled on the role of the preacher in declaring the gospel. I doubt many on the PB will argue against missionaries proclaiming the gospel. But how about the individual pew sitter? Is there a biblical mandate for them to witness or share the gospel? Is one needed? If I am honest to scripture, I have to admit that I cannot find one inference that commands individuals to preach the gospel.
It is the view of some Christians, and entire churches, that the Gospel is to be shared from the pulpit and not beyond that. In their minds, preaching the Word and administering the sacraments are the responsibility of the ordained minister and that the responsibility of the laity (non-ordained church members) is to read the Bible, pray, and be good citizens in the community. They bear witness by their upright behavior, not in proclaiming the Gospel message.
Please read A Biblical Defense of Lay Evangelism by Bob Gonzales. He very systematically lays out a number of New Testament passages that some reformers are willing to overlook when they declare only the minister can be an evangelist. The article is not short and was not written as a blog post. Give it some time and not just a glance. I have a few responses, but would love to have a discussion in the comments:
1) The goal of every Christian is to imitate Christ. He certainly preached the Gospel but wasn’t preaching when to the thief on the cross when he was saved. The teaching and healing ministry of Jesus gave him many opportunities to share the Gospel in ways other than preaching. It is Paul’s desire in Philippians 2 that we have the same mind in us that Christ had. If we, the body of believers, have the same mind as Christ we will feed the hungry, visit the sick, support the widow and orphan, and do a multitude of things while sharing the Gospel as each of those things creates opportunity to do so.
2) “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only.” James 1:22 Martin Luther, the original reformer himself, had little regard for the epistle of James. He called it “that right strawy epistle” and in his translation of the New Testament placed it at the very end. James is still included today in our New Testament canon and there is enough support for “be doers of the Word” found in the teachings of Jesus and the writing of the Apostle Paul for this command to apply to the lives of believers. Compare what James said about the relationship between faith and works to the sermon in Isaiah 1, particularly verses 12-17.
3) From 1 Peter 2: “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” 2:4-5
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 2:9
1 Peter 2:9 is referenced by Gonzalez in his article. I wanted to put that verse in its larger context. So what are your thoughts?