evangelists and prophets might be very different, but they must go together.

Evangelism Must Be Tied To The Prophetic

Evangelism not tied to the prophetic is either watered down or annoying.

Last week Alan Hirsch gave me that insight as I took issue with his newest book Disciplism.

I took issue with the way he talked about evangelism  and he was kind enough to dialogue back and forth with me. I wasn’t disagreeing with his points so to speak as I was reacting to the archetype of evangelist that he was attacking. I was reacting because I am an evangelist and I don’t think I do what he is suggesting evangelists (negatively) do. So I didn’t like the critique in a general sense so I emailed him to talk. As our conversation settled, he shot me an email a few days later with a thought that was brilliant:

“In The Forgotten Ways I suggest that each APEST creates the conditions and the context for the others.  I suggest that Apostolic creates the conditions for the prophetic, so too the prophet creates the right context (truth-telling and faithfulness) for the evangelistic proclamation of the Gospel.  So much of the last century’s evangelistic strategies were developed without the reference to prophetic ministry.  That’s where the theologically shallow stuff and methods we used comes from.  The quick-sell, salvation-on-tap stuff I critiqued in Disciplism.

All this to say bro that I think the way forward for evangelists in the missional movement must be to take issues of culture. justice, and proclamation seriously together.”

I totally agree and I think this is the way forward to not only powerful evangelism but more importantly a holistic witness that leads to genuine disciples of the Kingdom being made. In fact as I sat on it I realized this is how I already think about evangelism and so do many inside of InterVarsity. I just didn’t have the language. I never thought of it as the evangelist and prophet tied together. But what we have developed in San Diego, led by Ryan Pfeiffer, was exactly to this point.

Prophetic Evangelism = Witness

Evangelism that is tied to the prophetic is exactly what we have been talking about in San Diego for years and what has shaped me to this day. This kind of witness is core to my identity and the way I run a ministry and make disciples. I have been operating inside this paradigm for the last five or six years. It’s why I was so irked by Alan’s description of evangelism in the church today – I would never define evangelism as salvation on tap nor subscribe to those methods.

The Prophet and the Evangelist are meant to be tied together.


Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 11.36.41 PMIn San Diego the way that we tied those two things together was through the paradigm of a witness.

Jesus in Acts 1:8 makes it clear that the disciples are to be witnesses to the ends of the earth. And the key role of a witness is to reveal who Jesus is. Paul goes on to say in Romans 15:18-19,

18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me)to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed19)by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God”

  • Evangelist (WORD) Proclaims that Jesus is Lord.
    • Acts 8:35- “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.”
    • 1 Corinthians 2:13- “And We impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths for those who are spiritual.”
  • Activist(DEED) Shows us works of the Kingdom and justice.
    • James 1:27- “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
    • 1 John 3:18- “let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth.”
  • Mystic (POWER) displays the signs and miracles of God.
    • James 5:16- “the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
    • Acts 4:31- “And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with Boldness.

Evangelism/proclamation is part of being a witness for Jesus but not all. We need deeds and power too – we need the prophetic elements.

A witness reveals God in three primary ways through Word, Deed, and Power. You cannot be a complete witness without all three. Sure, every person leans one way and may primarily reveal Jesus through that means. But to grow as a witness you need to develop the other two circles.

But we also want to develop communities of witness and not just individuals. We want holistic communities that reveal Jesus through words: Jesus is Lord; through deeds: bringing justice; through power: healing the sick.

A witnessing person or community should reveal Jesus through word, deed, and power. Not just word.

We find evangelism annoying only when it gets divorced from the prophetic – when it is only about words and it stays at words. But a bunch of evangelists committed to proclaiming Jesus is Lord, walking hand in hand with others who are revealing the kingdom through good deeds and God’s power is not annoying but refreshing and now interpretive. It is whole.

The more and more I am in relationship with activists and mystics, I as an evangelists am shaped to see the gospel more whole, discipleship more full, and Jesus much larger. Without it I would be in danger of only evangelizing people for personal sin forgiveness instead of forgiveness plus the whole Kingdom coming and advancing in and through their life.

I will write more about this in the coming weeks but for now, answer this question for me?

How do you see an evangelist tied to the prophet being helpful?

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